The plan at middle linebacker for the Oakland Raiders quickly fell apart once Ben Heeney stepped on the field. But for the second year in a row, they were saved by a player that Washington cut. In 2015 it was David Amerson, this year it was Perry Riley.
While Riley wasn’t as huge of an impact as Amerson, he represented a significant upgrade to the position. He isn’t the long term answer but he’s a good stop gap and would make for very good depth.
The question is, will Riley be willing to sign up for that role?
If the Raiders are in agreement with me that Riley is not the answer as a starter, they won’t be offering him a starter’s salary. Before coming to the Raiders, Riley spent most of his career as a starter, logging 63 starts in 89 games. After a solid season in Oakland, Riley might be convinced he is still a starter in the league.
If so, he is likely to test the waters of free agency in search of a team willing to pay him like a starter.
Of course, there’s always the chance he is willing to stick with the Raiders at a lower price in the hope of convincing them he’s worth a better pay check. After getting cut by Washington last season, he sat around as a street free agent for a couple of months before Heeney’s injury prompted the Raiders to sign him. Perhaps the fear of another long stint as an unsigned free agent will make Riley realize the value of a contract with the up and coming Raiders.
But whether it’s on a one year prove it contract or a longer term deal at a backup’s salary. Riley is a guy the Raiders should try and re-sign. He’s got a ton of starting experience and can help them bridge the gap while they locate the starter of the future for Oakland. And hopefully, they can convince him to stay on as a backup even after they find their man.