For the better part of the last decade, the Raiders have been looking for someone to take over the middle of their defense. Rolando McClain looked like he might be the answer for the organization, but off-the-field issues prevented that from coming to fruition. Then a handful of free agents walked in and out of the doors but the team was stuck with the same issue.
With how long the problem has persisted, many people feel the upcoming offseason will finally be the year the Silver and Black use a significant amount of capital to address the position. Current Green Bay Packers’ linebacker, Blake Martinez figures to be in the mix for general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden.
Martinez certainly can provide run support as he has accumulated 512 total tackles, which ranks second at the position since he entered the league in 2016. Granted, this past year was the worst of his career as he missed 18 tackles, but he still has a solid body of work throughout his four-year career.
While defending the ground game is important, coverage has been the biggest issue that has plagued the Raiders’ linebacking core over the years. The Stanford product can help in that regard as well as he allowed 570 receiving yards, a passer rating of 102.1 when targeted, and two touchdowns in 2019. For comparison’s sake, Tahir Whitehead gave up 655 yards, a passer rating of 139.4, and six touchdowns.
The chess match between Seattle’s quarterback Russell Wilson and Martinez is something Raider fans should certainly keep an eye on. Wilson likes to use his legs in the passing game which can put linebackers in tough spots, so it will be interesting to see how the upcoming free agent fares against one of the league’s bests.