Raiders, Vikings Pursuing Kelechi Osemele

8:36pm: The Raiders aren’t alone in coveting Osemele. The Vikings are “surging” after him, according to Rand Getlin of (Twitter link).

8:22pm: The Raiders are the favorites in the race for arguably the best offensive lineman in this year’s free agent class, Kelechi Osemele, reports FOX Sports’ Mike Garafolo (Twitter link). Osemele is expected to garner upward of $10MM per year, Garafolo adds.

Since the Ravens selected Osemele in the second round of the 2012 draft, the 333-pounder has lined up at guard and both Kelechi Osemeletackle spots, starting in all 51 of his NFL appearances (14 last season). After beginning the 2015-16 campaign at guard, the 26-year-old shifted to left tackle and ultimately graded out 18th among 77 qualifying tackles at Pro Football Focus.

[RELATED: PFR ranks the top 50 FAs of this year’s class]

A report late last month indicated that the Ravens had made an “aggressive” offer to Osemele, but their decision to move him to left tackle (the most lucrative position on the offensive line) could ultimately help lead to his departure.

The Raiders might have a vacancy at left tackle as early as Wednesday if pending free agent Donald Penn signs elsewhere. Penn, who has appeared and started in 16 games in each of the last eight regular seasons with the Bucs and Raiders, is expected to reach the open market. Whether he returns to the Raiders will impact where Osemele lines up (if he signs with Oakland), ESPN’s Adam Caplan tweets. It doesn’t appear that the Raiders will have to choose between Penn and Osemele at left tackle, though, as they’re at a “stalemate” with Penn in contract talks, per CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (Twitter link).

In addition to their pursuit of Osemele, we learned earlier tonight that the Raiders are also interested in Broncos defensive lineman Malik Jackson as free agency draws closer. Led by a core of talented youth, the Raiders showed encouraging signs during a 7-9 finish last season and now look poised to put their $60MM-plus of spending room to good use in the coming days.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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