ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders are scheduled to have 13 unrestricted free agents this offseason after the team broke through with a 12-4 season and its first playoff appearance since 2002.
On offense: offensive lineman Menelik Watson, tight end Mychal Rivera, receiver Andre Holmes, quarterback Matt McGloin and running back Latavius Murray.
On defense: defensive back DJ Hayden, defensive tackle Stacy McGee, linebackers Malcolm Smith, Perry Riley Jr. and Daren Bates and safeties Nate Allen and Brynden Trawick.
And on special teams: long snapper Jon Condo.
Middle linebacker Perry Riley Jr.
2016 base salary: $1 million
Why he should stay: Signed off the street on Oct. 4 after four games, Riley, who spent his first six seasons in Washington, immediately helped settle the middle of the Raiders defense after Ben Heeney was lost for the season with injury and rookie Cory James was unable to solidify things. Riley’s 62 tackles in 11 games – he missed the Carolina Panthers game with a hamstring injury – ranked sixth on the team and he forced a fumble on his first series as a Raider. He forced another fumble in the Raiders’ playoff-clinching victory on Dec. 18 at San Diego and by the time the season ended, he was a 12-game starter in Oakland, including the playoffs, and had the green dot on his helmet as the team’s defensive signal-caller.
Why he should go: Yes, Riley settled things down for the Raiders defense, but it was still ranked No. 26 unit in the NFL. So is that a testament to Riley’s ability or a shot at how poor the defense played? That depends upon how you look at things. Riley had two passes defensed, but he did not have a sack or an interception while starting 11 regular-season games and the playoff loss at the Houston Texans. Riley fits the mold of a journeyman and he will be 29 with a lot of mileage on him come next season.
The quote: “I love this place. Like I said, the team, the fans, opened their arms for me and welcomed me with open arms. I loved it here, so if everything works out, perfect scenario, definitely I’d come back.” – Riley, on the prospect of returning to Oakland in 2017.
The thought: Riley, childhood friends with outside linebacker Bruce Irvin, was the best the Raiders had last season at middle linebacker. So unless they draft an upgrade who is ready to contribute immediately, sign one in free agency or acquire one in a trade, it makes sense to bring Riley back for another run.
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