After sitting out the first part of free agency, the Raiders have finally made a splash. They have acquired linebacker Kamerion Wimbley from the Browns for one of the Raiders' third round picks according to several NFL sources.
Wimbley was originally selected 13th overall out of Florida State in the 2006 draft. He plays outside linebacker which has long been an area of need for the Raiders. And it became even more thin when free agent linebacker/special teamer Jon Alston signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This is an incredibly smart move by the Raiders as it cost them very little in the trade. Wimbley has had some success in the league. Particularly as a rookie when he compiled 11 sacks. He has also started every game in his four years in Cleveland totaling 26.5 sacks in that time.
This is curious move in that we don't know exactly what the Raiders have planned for him. He played defensive end at Florida State and was converted to outside linebacker by the Browns. The Raiders could use another speedy pass rusher off the edge but their need at line backer is far more desperate.
Although his sack totals have not reached double digits since his rookie season, it will not matter to the Raiders. As an outside linebacker in Cleveland he played in a 3-4 where he was a rush end half the time. If the Raiders choose to play him strictly as an outside linebacker, he would be dropping into coverage and protecting against the run with the occasional blitz.
As a defensive end he would fill the role that Derrick Burgess had during his three years with the team. Which makes it all the more ironic that the pick they traded away to get Wimbley was the pick they acquired from New England last off season in exchange for Derrick Burgess. And while Wimbley will probably not put up the same numbers Burgess did in his first two seasons in Oakland, he is far more durable. Burgess was injury prone while Wimbley has missed one game in his entire four year career and it was with the flu.
And with a 2010 salary of just $1.065 million, he comes considerably cheap too. At least for now.
This could prove to be one of the smartest moves by any team this off season. Even if the Raiders could get similar numbers from him as he got in Cleveland (avg 45 tackles, 6+ sacks per season) it would certainly be worth what was given up for him. And he is still very young too so he has a lot of great football still ahead of him.
But unlike some former Raider reclamation projects, he is not being pulled off the scrap heap. He has been a productive linebacker. Perhaps just not what the Mike Holmgren and the Browns have in their plans.
The Raiders made a very smart and unexpected move here. Wimbley is a low risk and high reward acquisition.