Oakland Raiders Sign Lofton, Williams, Add Depth to Defense


Coming off a season where the Oakland Raiders run defense allowed the 11th most yards, the team added veteran linebacker Curtis Lofton and defensive tackle Dan Williams on Wednesday morning. In addition to Lofton and Williams, the Raiders also added former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith.

Under Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders have added a solid core of youngsters, including Khalil Mack and Justin Ellis, both of whom were named to the PFWA All-Rookie team last season. The problem in the past with Oakland had been adding too many over-the-hill players, along with one-hit wonders, rather than established veterans.

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With the addition of Lofton, 28, the Raiders snatched up a stout linebacker who’s played in every game since 2008 when he was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons. Lofton will more than likely start at middle linebacker for Oakland, which would mean a lot of tackles are still to come for Lofton, who had 145 tackles last season for the New Orleans Saints.

Lofton has had at least 118 tackles in every season since 2009, when he was still with the Falcons.

In addition to Lofton, the Raiders added linebacker Smith, 25, the former Super Bowl MVP from 2013. Smith, who hasn’t boasted the same stats as Lofton, is expected to play outside linebacker for the Raiders opposite of Mack.

Smith didn’t have much room for opportunity with the Seahawks, since most of his playing time came in 2013 when Bobby Wagner and Bruce Irvin missed time, but he’s primed to see plenty of action for the Raiders in 2015.

The final piece the Raiders added, which could prove to be the most valuable, is Williams, 27, who played for the Arizona Cardinals last season. The Cardinals’ defense ranked 13th best against the run last season with Williams as a main interior anchor. Yahoo’s Frank Schwab listed Williams as the second-highest ranked free agent defensive tackle, only behind Ndamukong Suh.

Oct 12, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Dan Williams (92) against the Washington Redskins at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Some may not look at the additions as home runs, but with the Raiders’ two main needs heading into free agency being wide out weapons on offense and adding stout run stoppers to the defense, the Raiders definitely added the latter.

The Raiders focuses on the defensive side now shifts to getting a QB rusher on the edge of the line and grabbing a safety to pair with Charles Woodson. However, on Thursday, the Raiders’ made another move, handling the safety issue, by signing former Philadelphia Eagles’ safety Nate Allen to a four-year deal.

Also, with the news of Jake Locker‘s retirement yesterday, there are rumors swirling that the Tennessee Titans, number two in the draft, could go all in on a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft on April 30. This could potentially give the Raiders the option of going for Leonard Williams or a WR, such as Kevin White or Amari Cooper with the number four pick.

It seems these adds are just the start for the Raiders and as free agency continues expect more moves by the Raiders. What are your thoughts on the new pieces the Raiders added?

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