Insider reveals which Raider is most deserving of a contract extension

The Las Vegas Raiders may want to pay the defensive end before his price goes up.
Las Vegas Raiders DE Malcolm Koonce.
Las Vegas Raiders DE Malcolm Koonce. / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

Perhaps the single Raider who helped his stock most last season was defensive end Malcolm Koonce. The former third-round pick didn't do much of anything his first two seasons but also didn't really get a chance to.

When the Raiders were forced to cut Chandler Jones, Koonce was eventually able to work his way into the pass rush rotation before earning a starting job. He had a breakout 2023 as he finished second on the team with 8.0 sacks.

The Raiders have been trying to pair Maxx Crosby with another great pass rusher for years and may have finally found one. There are plenty of players in Las Vegas on expiring contracts but The Athletic's Vic Tafur believes Koonce should be the highest priority.

"Koonce seems to be the obvious first player in line, as pass rusher is a premium position and the staff seems pretty convinced he is only scratching the surface," Tafur wrote.

The last bit from Tafur is the most interesting. It sounds like he's hearing that Koonce has a lot more room to grow. If that's the case, the Raiders really should lock him down. If he finishes next season with 10.0 or more sacks, he's going to get a massive contract.

In fact, it might even be wise on his end to wait things out and see what happens. His price should still be relatively low considering he has 10.0 sacks in three seasons. Right now, the Raiders could likely sign him for around $10 million a year. That could go all the way up to over $15 million a year if he's awesome in 2024.

This is a good problem for the Raiders to have. The team already has two star defensive linemen in Crosby and Christian Wilkins. Koonce becoming a Pro Bowl-level player would give the team one of the best defensive trios in the entire league.