Lamarr Houston a 'must-sign' free agent

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders have 18 pending unrestricted free agents and, it has been written in this space before that defensive end Lamarr Houston should be one of the team’s top re-signing priorities.

ESPN.com NFL Insider Mike Sando agrees.

In an Insider piece on ESPN.com, Sando lists Houston as one of his 25 “Must-Sign” free agentsInsider, ranking him No. 8 on his list.

“The Raiders do not possess enough talent to let productive young players get away,” Sando wrote. “Houston, 25, tied Cameron Wake with 41 quarterback hurries this season, according to Pro Football Focus. Not bad for a 300-pounder.”

Not bad indeed, especially for a guy who made the switch to the right side after playing on the left the first three years of his career.

Houston started out strong, getting four of his career-high six sacks in the Raiders’ first seven games. But he wore down a bit as the season went on and only registered one sack over Oakland’s next eight games before getting one in the season finale.

He said after that game he believed the Raiders and coach Dennis Allen “might be looking to move on and have me go to another team and find something more what they want for their system and their scheme.”

Allen was taken aback by Houston’s comments.

“I did see that quote, and that’s not the case,” Allen said in his season-ending media conference. “Obviously, I sat down with Lamarr ... and had a nice discussion with him. We’d love to have him back. We think he fits our system and what we’re trying to do, and we think he’s a guy that we can build with.”