When the Las Vegas Raiders drafted Arden Key, the hope was that he’d develop into a dependable pass rusher. He only ended up notching three sacks in 37 games with the team. The Raiders decided to cut him loose recently as they’ve signed several defensive linemen this offseason.
It didn’t take long for the 24-year-old defensive end to find a new home. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Key has signed a one-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 21, 2021
Though the Raiders are no longer residing in the Bay Area, the rivalry between the two teams is still very much alive. Key spent two years in Oakland so he’s returning to an area he’s familiar with.
For the 49ers, this is a smart move. While Key didn’t show much potential with the Raiders, he was once considered one of the best pass rushers in college football. For whatever reason, he just couldn’t make it work in Las Vegas or Oakland. He’ll now get a chance to play on a stacked defense with some of the best defensive linemen in the NFL.
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Key Was Very Happy to Leave Raiders
After he was released, Key didn’t seem very upset. In fact, he was overjoyed by the news. He even called it “THE BEST THING THAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED TO ME!” Based on those comments, it’s clear that he never felt like he was a great fit with the team.
Arden Key issues a statement on his release.
(via IG:// ardenkey) pic.twitter.com/boBWCLQPTu
— Kenny King Jr (@KennyKing_Jr) April 17, 2021
The Raiders gave him plenty of opportunities, but he just never seized them. He started 10 games as a rookie and only notched one sack all season. The team clearly had a bad defense during Key’s tenure but he didn’t do much to help. It’ll be very interesting to see how he performs in San Francisco.
Will Key Be Able to Turn His Career Around?
This should be a very good opportunity for Key. He now gets to play with a team that has a competent defense and some serious talent. Having Nick Bosa on one side of the defensive line should help Key quite a bit.
That said, there’s no guarantee he’s going to be any better than he was with the Raiders. As a rookie, Maxx Crosby got 10 sacks in the same defense as Key. If he’s got all this untapped potential, then why didn’t he show more flashes? Even Clelin Ferrell had more than twice as many sacks as Key in just two years.
Sure, it’s possible the Raiders weren’t using him in the best way but that seems like a weak explanation. Also, Robert Saleh is no longer the defensive coordinator for the 49ers. Everybody knows that Kyle Shanahan is an offensive coach and Saleh deserves most of the credit for the 49ers having a good defense. DeMeco Ryans is now the team’s defensive coordinator but he’s young and untested. Obviously, it’s possible that Key will play better but it’s hard to see it happening based on how he performed with the Raiders.
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