The Oakland Raiders defensive tackle situation will be one of their most important offseason decisions. Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour are scheduled to make big money in 2013, which make them susceptible to being released. Desmond Bryant played very well last season, but is an unrestricted free agent in 2013.
The Raiders acquired the three time Super Bowl champion Seymour from the New England Patriots for a first round pick in 2009. In those four seasons, Seymour has 18.5 sacks in 52 starts. In 2012 he was hampered by a hamstring injury that cost him the last eight games of the year. In the first eight, Seymour was effective with 3.0 sacks, which was good for a third place finish on the team. However, Seymour is due 7.5 million in base salary for the next four years and up to another 11.6 million in other bonuses. With the financial issues the Raiders are trying to dig out of, it would seem Seymour is a candidate for release.
Another big contract on the Oakland ledger is Tommy Kelly. Kelly is scheduled to make over 11 million in 2013 from base salary and bonuses and another 8.7 in 2014. Last season the nine year veteran started all 16 games recording 45 tackles and 1 sack. The 2011 Pro bowl alternate is a bit of an enigma. He has the size, strength, and athleticism to fill holes in the running game and get after the quarterback, but he has a tendency to be penalized at the worst possible times. Last season his mental lapses cost the Raiders on huge third and short situations. The Oakland front office's decision on whether or not to keep Kelly in 2013 could be the most interesting move of the offseason.
Desmond Bryant filled in for Seymour, starting eight games in 2012. He stood out as the best interior defensive lineman on the Raiders roster, which will make him a priority to resign this offseason. He is an unrestricted free agent and his play last season elevated his price tag. The fourth year Harvard alum accounted for 36 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble last season. If the Raiders decision comes down to Bryant or Kelly, Bryant should be the answer.
Rookie Christo Bilukidi emerged as a nice piece in the defensive line rotation last season. The sixth round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft played in 13 games and amassed eight tackles as well as a pass break up. Bilukidi came along late in the season to earn valuable experience. With all the decisions the Raiders need to make on the other big defensive tackle contracts, Bilukidi will be a contributing member of the line and counted on for more plays in 2013.
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