The Raiders didn’t lock down Ndamukong Suh.
The prize of the free-agent market is set to sign a massive contract with Miami when it can be executed on Tuesday.
There’s no time to mourn top targets cashing checks elsewhere. That won’t add much-needed talent along the defensive line. The Raiders are heavily invested in Denver’s Terrance Knighton, per a league source, a fact that should come as no surprise considering the defensive tackle’s connection to new head coach Jack Del Rio.
[BAIR: Sky not falling for Raiders after missing out on Suh]
Knighton followed Del Rio from Jacksonville to Denver, and has played on a team without the respected coach just once in six seasons as a professional. His affinity for Del Rio is well known, and Knighton has said Del Rio would be someone he would speak to if a deal can't get worked out in Denver.
Respect between the two men is mutual. Del Rio spoke highly of Knighton last month at the NFL Scouting Combine.
“We drafted him, and we thought at that time he was kind of a dancing bear type,” Del Rio said at the time. “Kind of a big powerful man that can stay on his feet and run down the line. This game is about big, powerful men, so that the guys that have the skill level can do their things. So, this big, powerful man played well in Jacksonville. We got back together, he played well in Denver and so I appreciate that. I respect that.
“We have to have those kinds of people in our trenches on the offensive and defensive line in order to play the kind of football we expect to play.”
[BAIR: Raiders miss on top target Cobb; what's next at WR?]
According to the ESPN and the Denver Post, Washington, Indianapolis and Chicago are also showing serious interest in Knighton, a 28-year old looking for a large pay day in free agency.
Competition could drive Knighton’s price up, especially with Suh essentially off the board. The Raiders can certainly afford Knighton, and they've made it clear they're willing to compete for his services. Knighton best known as a run stuffer and a gap-plugger who makes others better. He has some interior pass-rush ability, with 18 total pressures in 2014. He would also be a champion for Del Rio in the locker room and a real asset in the trenches who could form a tough tandem with Justin Ellis on running downs.
NFL teams can contact and negotiate with representatives for unrestricted free agents through Tuesday morning, after which they can execute contracts.