The Oakland Raiders two best players are impending free agents, and left tackle Jared Veldheer and defensive end Lamarr Houston are certainly two players the Raiders would like to lock up long-term with all of the salary cap space they have available. Tony Pauline reported during the combine that the Raiders were expected to use the franchise tag of transition tag on Houston, but it doesn’t look like that will be the case. ESPN’s Adam Caplan reports, citing a source, that Houston is not expected to get slapped with the franchise tag, and the deadline to tag players is 4:00 p.m. ET today.
Houston is easily the best player on the Raiders defense, which has plenty of holes in it. If they are unable to keep him around, then defensive end would be their biggest need overall, and it would an even bigger need than cornerback. Last season, the 26-year-old recorded a career-high six sacks, but his sack numbers have never truly reflected his ability to consistently disrupt the passing game. Maybe more importantly, Houston is arguably the best 4-3 DE in the NFL against the run, and that’s something the Raiders also wouldn’t like to lose.
It will be interesting to see how negotiations between the Raiders and Houston progress, but it looks like they’ll have to get a long-term deal done before the 11th. I’m sure the Raiders want to keep him, but it’s going to be difficult to do that without the franchise tag. Although tagging a player is never a real solution, it’s a good way of buying additional time to bargain. And if the Raiders can’t keep him, then Houston will receive a huge contract somewhere this offseason as a star end hitting the free agent waters.