Just hours into the legal tampering period and inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski is already on his way to Las Vegas with a 3-year $21 million deal. The 6’2″ 242 pounder was originally selected with the 113th overall pick in the 2016 draft and spent the first four years with the Chicago Bears.
Kwiatkoski promises to be a serious upgrade in the heart of the defense, recording over 64% of his snaps in the box. He recorded career highs in sacks, hurries, stops, coverage snaps, and tackles in 2019 to return closer to the dorm he showed in 2017. He was supplanted in the starting lineup in 2018 by rookie Roquan Smith.
Nick Kwiatkoski is a solid upgrade
Despite only getting limited opportunities on a stacked Bears defense, Kwiatkoski has shown that he has the power, instincts, and athleticism to start inside as a three-down linebacker in the NFL. His ability to penetrate and cover gives him an added versatility that the Raiders have been lacking for years.
While his main strength is in his run defense and tackling, Nick Kwiatkoski proved while starting for the Bears last year that he’s no slouch covering as well. It was an unexpected opportunity, and one he seized with both hands.
Nick Kwiatkoski told NBC Sports Bay Area, “They called very early and, when I spoke to them, it was very clear there’s an excitement around the whole organization with the move to Las Vegas. That was one of a number of reasons why I made my decision.
“When we played them in London last year and I just loved the mentality they brought to the game where they come right at you. With their defensive scheme, I thought I’d fit right in. I gave it some time and took some other calls, but I ended up thinking the Raiders were the best fit for me.”