Raiders: Christian Kirksey could be a part of the linebacker solution

Raiders (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Raiders (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The Las Vegas Raiders should sign the recently released Christian Kirksey given their need at linebacker, but only at the right price.

There may be no NFL team that needs help at linebacker more than the Las Vegas Raiders. And in all honesty, that might as well be an evergreen statement.

The Raiders have been a linebacker-needy team for years now and the team’s short-term fixes have proven futile. As such, a complete overhaul of the position is needed and expected to take place this offseason.

After ignoring the position for years in the draft, the Raiders will likely look to address linebacker early come April. However, they will have a few options to upgrade in free agency first.

And the recently released Christian Kirksey could be an intriguing name.

Now, let’s be clear here — by no means should he be their first option. The 27-year-old has played just nine games over the past two seasons and his level of play has declined over that time.

But for the right price, Kirksey could be a solid veteran pick up.

More from Golden Gate Sports

Players like Cory Littleton and Kirksey’s former teammate, Joe Schobert, will undoubtedly be at the top of the Raiders’ wish list. But with so many needs to address and other big names to target, paying a linebacker top dollar might not be reasonable.

After all, landing a true No. 1 cornerback like Byron Jones or adding a dynamic offensive playmaker like Robby Anderson remains as, if not more, important. Linebacker is important, but the team might not have to sign the top names to make things work.

Again, that’s where the 2020 NFL Draft would come in to play. There, the Raiders could spend one of their two first-round picks on a linebacker (Kenneth Murray, Patrick Queen, etc.) thus preventing the “stop-gap” strategy.

But they’ll need some players to pair up with that draft pick. Nicholas Morrow is still on the roster but he proved to be a low-tier starting option last season. Tahir Whitehead had been released and Will Compton is set to hit free agency.

More from Las Vegas Raiders News

They need a player with upside and experience — Christian Kirksey could be that guy.

The Iowa product was originally selected in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Browns and he’s spent the last six years of his career playing in Cleveland. Throughout the first four years of his career, Kirksey was as healthy as they come.

He didn’t miss a single NFL game for four seasons, growing more endearing to the “Dawg Pound” by the day. Kirksey was a fan favorite and vocal locker room leader. That’s why despite his declining play and recent injury troubles, Browns fans were sad to see him go.

Kirksey racked up a whopping 286 tackles in 2016 and 2017 combined, but while his tackle numbers were high, his Pro Football Focus grades were modest at best. Here is a look at his PFF grades over his career.

Keep in mind that he played just nine games in 2018 and 2019 combined, but that’s still not a great look.

Kirksey struggled at times in coverage which is likely what hurt his grade. For this reason, he isn’t the home-run free-agent signing that some have made him out to be.

But he can be a worthwhile addition at the right price. A cheap short-term deal worth no more than $5 million per season seems reasonable for a veteran who has seen better days and is coming off two injury-riddled seasons.

Kirksey’s aggressiveness and vocal leadership would make him a great fit in Vegas and he’d likely become a fan favorite with the Raiders before long.

Again, he alone isn’t the solution — but he could be a part of that solution.

Next. Predicting the QB carousel and how it will affect the Raiders and 49ers. dark

Christian Kirksey isn’t going to change the landscape of the Raiders’ linebacker core, but he’s a worthy target and would be a solid addition to the team at the right price.