The Raiders did not field a particularly good offensive line in 2021. Despite the franchise hiring a new head coach-GM combination, the group remains relatively unchanged. And the team endured a recent setback; Brandon Parker is battling what is believed to be a significant injury, Tashan Reed of The Athletic notes (subscription required).
Parker has not practiced since the Raiders’ preseason opener Aug. 4. The veteran blocker who spent much of last season as the Raiders’ starting right tackle re-signed with the team on a one-year, $3.5MM deal. He continued to work with the first-stringers during the team’s offseason program and into the start of training camp. The Raiders do not view Parker’s injury as season-ending at this point, per Reed, leading to no IR placement. Players can only return from IR if they are carried through to the 53-man roster after the Aug. 30 cutdown day.
The team does have other options here. Alex Leatherwood, who moved to guard early during his rookie season, is the most prominent of those choices. Though, the Alabama product widely viewed as a first-round reach last year was Pro Football Focus’ worst-graded full-time O-lineman in 2021. Still, Josh McDaniels said earlier this summer Leatherwood would be given “every opportunity” to win the job. Veteran Jermaine Eluemunor and seventh-round rookie Thayer Munford, whom the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Vincent Bonsignore notes has made “rapid” improvement, are also in the mix here. Munford, however, also suffered an injury this week.
Parker being sidelined for a chunk of the season opens the door to one of these options, with the others becoming depth pieces or swing options. The Raiders’ initial depth chart has Lester Cotton, a UDFA who has appeared in five career games, positioned as their right guard starter. Leatherwood having a road back to that gig, should he lose the right tackle competition, would make sense.
The team is not ruling out an outside addition, per Bonsignore, who adds a trade should not be discarded as an option. That may well depend on Parker’s timetable. If the team is to add a player in a non-trade capacity, Bonsignore notes a move should be expected on the waiver wire when rosters are slashed from 80 to 53 players in 10 days. But Las Vegas is not actively scouring the free agent market.
Daryl Williams resides as one of the top options available, but Reed adds the Raiders did not view him well as a Bills right tackle last season. The Bills moved Williams to guard during the 2021 slate. Bobby Massie, a longtime Bears starter who was the Broncos’ primary right-edge blocker in 2021, and Brandon Shell (a Jets and Seahawks full-timer during his career) are available as well.