Raiders free agency outlook: Chris Clemons

How good was Chris Clemons to the Oakland Raiders? They probably can't afford to let him go with their uncertain status all along the defensive line.

Chris Clemons

2007: Finished tied for the sack lead on the Raiders despite minimal playing time early in the season and playing primarily on passing downs.

Grade: B

Market interest level: Medium

Raiders interest level: High

Clemons was a huge free agent pick-up in 2007 and was well worth whatever risk Oakland took in signing him.

Now that they know what he can do -- matching Derrick Burgess for the team lead with eight sacks -- the Raiders need to get Clemons inked to a long-term deal. They won't need to break the bank to do it but it's a move worth making for several reasons.

Chief among them is that the Raiders have to find a starting right defensive end for next season. Tommy Kelly, who started there this past season, is a free agent himself. Even if he re-signs with Oakland, Kelly is all but certain to move inside to the three-technique position where he'll replace the retired Warren Sapp.

Clemons paired with Jay Richardson to man the right end spot after Kelly was injured mid-season, but it was Clemons' work early in the season filling in for Burgess on the left side that caught the attention of the Raiders' coaching staff.

He lacks the bulk to be an every-down player but Clemons counters that with a great first step and acceleration that allows him to close down on opposing quarterbacks.


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