In an NFL week packed with changes and transactions, the Raiders made some roster news just ahead of Week 9’s game against the Giants. The team added linebacker Malik Reed and let go of wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson.
Reed was an undrafted free agent out of Nevada back in 2019, when he signed on with the Broncos. He worked his way into the Broncos lineup and became a starter for them, joining the first 11 for eight of the 15 games he played as a rookie. He started 13 games in 2020 and 13 again in 2021.
Reed was traded by the Broncos to the Steelers just before roster cut-down day last year, and he spent the season in a backup role with Pittsburgh, playing 14 games, which included two starts. He graded out at Pro Football Focus well, with a decent season grade of 63.8.
Reed’s second season, in Denver, was his best, as he recorded 8.0 sacks. For his career, in 59 games, he has 16.0 sacks to his credit.
Before the start of this season, Reed had signed with Miami but was released in August and signed with the Raiders’ practice squad.
Added Defensive Help Good News for Raiders Roster
Ahead of this week’s trade deadline, before the season took a drastic turn with the firing of coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler, the Raiders were reported to have been looking to add a pass rusher on the trade market.
As Diana Russini of The Athletic wrote, “The Raiders have been busy making calls around the league looking for a pass rusher since releasing Chandler Jones. They are looking for a player-for-player swap and may not want to give up too much.”
Interim coach Antonio Pierce, himself a linebacker during his playing days, acknowledged that the Raiders defense has played pretty well, for the most part. The team ranked 19th in yards allowed, and 22nd in points, which is not great, but compared to the offense—30th in points and 31st in yards—it has been passable. But the team has struggled to stop long drives fueled by opponent running attacks.
Pierce wants that to change. He is hoping that slowing the run will allow pass-rusher Maxx Crosby to thrive in clear pass situations.
“More, more,” Pierce said, per SI.com. “We’ve got to create turnovers. We’ve got to stop the long drives. Penalties have been the biggest things that have hurt us in those situations. We’ve had great moments, and then we’ve had other moments like: ‘What the hell?’
“Just being consistent, first and foremost. Being a defensive player, you stop the run, you build the wall. We make them one-dimensional, and like I tell Max, go eat. Go eat. Party at the quarterback, and let’s celebrate and have fun doing it.”
Kristian Wilkerson Part of Patriots Purge
The cutting of Wilkerson maybe should not be a surprise as the Raiders apparently are purging all things Patriots from the roster. Jones, as Russini mentioned, was released after his arrest early in the season, and now McDaniels and Ziegler, who were hired from New England, are gone, too.
Former Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, brought in by McDaniels, is now on the bench and Wilkerson, who was with the Patriots for two seasons when McDaniels was the offensive coordinator, is gone too.
Wilkerson had played in two games for the Raiders, including one start, but did not make a catch.