Much of the focus of the 2012 offseason has stayed on what to make of the Oakland Raiders offense. Few have stooped to remember what their defense will have to face. Could their needs at pass rusher push them to Cliff Avril and the Detroit Lions?
Uncertainty in Darren McFadden and Shawntae Spencer highlight Raiders
It seems no roster spot is without question marks in Oakland. That's nothing new. The problem isn't talent. The Raiders seem to have it with running back Darren McFadden or quarterback Carson Palmer among the biggest names. Fear sits with the players fans aren't sure what to make of. Most of those problems center on the defense. Everywhere from the defensive line to the linebackers to the secondary the Silver and Black have problems. Their best lineman in Richard Seymour is 33 and their best pass rusher in Kamerion Wimbley left in free agency. One of their top linebackers is at risk for jail time. Their starting group of corners in Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer give no confidence to fans except experience (both players are 30 years old). It's hard to think adding one key player can help this defense against Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. New general manager Reggie McKenzie wants young building blocks for the future. Might the team find one in the Motor City?
Avril can't see why Lions GM Martin Mayhew has contract problems
Defensive end Cliff Avril has a hard time seeing how the Detroit Lions and GM Martin Mayhew can call his contract talks "complicated" and "very complex." To him the matter is as simple as they get. He wants a deal reportedly worth at least $42 million dollar and last signs said the two sides were $2 million apart. It's a fair deal in his mind for a 25 year old pass rusher who sacked the quarterback 11 times and forced six fumbles. That's neither complex nor complicated. If forced to play under the franchise tag Avril hint he will almost certainly test free agency in 2013, something Detroit is trying to avoid. The bigger problem isn't that they won't pay him it's that they already have huge chunks of their money invested in team stars like Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh. Given how many able linemen they have on defense they can't afford to sink too much money into Avril. That's why a solid 2012 season by another end might push the team to trading him before free agency next year. One team that would love to have him is Oakland. Their need for a young defensive star is well-known and Avril could become a great block for McKenzie and the coaches to build around.
Darren McFadden and the offense deserve the spotlight for the Oakland Raiders but they can't hope to reach the playoffs with unknowns like Shawntae Spencer leading the defense. If Martin Mayhew has his hand forced, the Detroit Lions could very well trade Cliff Avril before he reaches free agency. Silver and Black would look pretty good on him.