Happy Easter, everyone. It’s a day many celebration the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And since we cover the Raiders around here, we look at players rising their careers from the dead. And in the process hope to pull the team fortunes from the depths as well.
This is a franchise that is classically known for the players they have pulled off the scrap heap and returned to glory. They built championship teams in the early 80s with career comeback players like Jim Plunkett, John Matuszak, and Todd Christensen.
That continued in their early 2000s success with players like Rich Gannon, Tyrone Wheatley, and Lincoln Kennedy. And it lives on to this day with players like Darren Waller.
In that spirit, and the spirit of Easter, we take a look at a few more current Raiders players who are looking to follow in the footsteps of these classic Raiders and re-awaken their careers this season.
WR John Brown
Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown (15) runs with the ball against Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Nevin Lawson (26) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Brown’s 2018 season saw him average 17 yards per catch over 15 starters, which earned him a three-year deal with the Bills. In his first season in Buffalo, he started 15 games and caught 72 passes for 1060 yards and six touchdowns. Last season, he would appear in just nine games before landing on injured reserve, limiting him to 33 catches for 458 yards and three touchdowns. He was then cut by the Bills. He looks to get back to previous form with the Raiders.
Oct 7, 2018; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Darius Philon (93) reacts after sacking Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) during the second half at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Consecutive seasons with at least four sacks in 2017-18 earned Philon a two-year deal with the Cardinals. But an arrest with assault charges ended up getting him cut and he has been out of the NFL awaiting trial. In February the case was dismissed and the 27-year-old will finally get a chance to get his career back on track.
Oct 25, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Cory Littleton (42) tackles Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (28) in the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
A year ago, Littleton was the top linebacker on the free agent market. He was widely considered one of the best all-around linebackers in football, earning him a lucrative long term deal with the Raiders. Then the pandemic hit and Littleton faced a tough task to learn a new, complicated defense with no organized offseason practices. He hopes a full offseason with a new defensive coordinator can get him back to the player he was with the Rams.
DT David Irving
Nov 24, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle David Irving (95) attempts to block a pass against Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium. Dallas won 31-26. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Substance abuse is what derailed Irving’s once promising career. In 2017, he had seven sacks in eight starter before being suspended the rest of the season. The following season he was suspended indefinitely after just two games and therefore missed all of 2019. Last season, he bounced between the Raiders practice squad and the roster. This will be his first full offseason with a team since 2018 in a wide open competition at the 3-tech DT spot.
DE Yannick Ngakoue
Dec 15, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) is pressured by Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (91) during the Raiders final game at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum before relocating to Las Vegas for the 2020 season. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
For Ngakoue it’s about finding a home and a team that really wants him. When he was signed by the Raiders to a two-year, $26 million deal last month, he joined his fourth team in a calendar year. Ngakoue was a Pro Bowler in his second season in 2017 with 12 sacks and six forced fumbles. And though he’s never had fewer than eight sacks in any of his five NFL seasons, he hasn’t been seen as a game changer and certainly not an every down player.