The Las Vegas Raiders need to add depth at corner in free agency after it begins March 18th.
Las Vegas should take a corner who can compete for playing on the outside, like Trayvon Mullen last year. This corner class is not one of the best, especially the top prospects, though.
Even if the Raiders wait until the second or third round to address the corner spot, Vegas should add a veteran corner in free agency. Over the past few offseasons the Raiders have been aggressive going after defensive backs. This year should be no different as they still need help in the secondary.
Maybe this is the year the revolving corner door stops? Here are free agent corner for the Raiders to consider in free agency.
The Silver and Black will let two of last year’s key defensive backs test free agency, safety Karl Joseph and corner Daryl Worley.
Curtis Riley rounds out notable secondary members hitting the open market for the Raiders. It makes sense, given the Raiders gave up the 8th most passing yards for last year. That means Las Vegas should pursue some defensive backfield additions in the draft.
Safety Jonathan Abram got hurt, although many, especially himself, expected the rookie safety to the league by storm. Corner Trayvon Mullen started the second half of last season and showed enough potential to be in the mix as a top corner again this year.
The Rest of the Secondary
Last year they signed Nevin Lawson who was good enough to get an extension. LaMarcus Joyner was signed as a safety, slot corner hybrid. Joyner was hit and mostly miss but it appears the team is not taking their way out of his deal.
Thus, the Raiders could do well to find another starter at corner on the outside, opposite Mullen. They could also get a safety to compete with Joyner as well as supply some insurance for Abram. I say that because this will all came from the same budget. Here are some corner solutions the Raiders could consider.
Byron Jones – A Dream
Jones will hit free agency largely due to the Cowboys having a bunch of other priorities hitting the market. He is connected to current d-line coach Rob Marinelli through Dallas the past years. Marinelli was the d-coordinator with the Cowboys and some expect he could take over the position with the Raiders this year if they do not improve the unit. Jones stats don’t pop but he is a freakish athlete with experience to match which makes him a good candidate to play across the secondary. He could probably start at corner or safety depending what the Raiders do with Joyner. The 2018 Pro Bowler will be 28 next year and Vegas will probably be one of many teams trying to sign Jones.
James Bradberry – The Fan Favorite
Bradberry is a big corner off 3 interceptions last year and has 8 career interception in four seasons. He screams a player who could hit the bank in free agency. That hasn’t stopped many Raiders blogs from speculating him as a perfect fit for the Vegas. Bradberry would be the starting corner opposite Mullen right away as he brings 60 games of starting experience. My bet is the Raiders might get outbid. Not to mention, the last corner the Raiders blogosphere desperately wanted was Rashaan Melvin which turned out amazing.
Chris Harris – Welcomed Foe
Harris knows the division. He could return to the slot corner spot. Sure, Harris is off a down season with only one interception and is about to turn 31. However, Harris is already cool with Josh Jacobs based on their twitter activity. Why not bring the former Broncos corner to Vegas? Tackling could be an issue but at least Harris knows what it takes to try and cover Tyreke Hill.
Jimmy Smith – The Dark Horse
Smith also finished with only one interception last season. Still, the 31-year-old is a big DB who can play corner or safety. His veteran experience wand swagger along with 14 career interceptions makes him valuable. Smith restructured his contract the past few seasons and battled injuries so he is most likely out of his long-term plans in Baltimore. Vegas is only a few hours from his hometown in SoCal which is an added bonus. Smith could be a sneaky good move for a team that needs depth, leadership and playmakers. At worst, he is a fourth corner you rely on for the stretch like the Raiders haven’t signed older and more washed corners before.
Logan Ryan – A Wild Card
Ryan concluded his best year as a Titan with 4 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles and 4.5 sacks last season. He will be 29 next season but he could still be good in the slot for the Raiders. Logan can play outside too so he might find himself looking for another big contract after that big season in Tennessee. However, I’m always hesitant to sign a player after a big season. The Raiders should consider Ryan if the price is right.
Kendall Fuller – Why Not?
Fuller can play inside or outside corner as well as a bit of safety. He is only going to be 25-years-old and could have a good year in a new place. Fuller registered 2 interceptions last year and four the year before. Plus, he just won a Super Bowl with the Chiefs. Vegas makes sense as a short-term one-year destination for Fuller if the market is slow after he only started 4 games last year.
Trae Waynes – Productive
Waynes caught one interception in 14 starts last year and he has seven across his five year career. He is a solid starting corner but not exactly known for his tackling either. He played in a Vikings defense cut from the same cloth as Paul Geunther’s scheme with the Raiders. Waynes could also benefit from moving to the slot. Worse case scenario, he’s a good backup for Mullen.
Mackensie Alexander – Time for a New Spot
Alexander played mostly in the slot over his four seasons with the Vikings. He is a year younger than Waynes so the Vikings might keep him or they might let both walk. Alexander is an affordable slot option. He might want to prove himself as an outside corner with the Vikings or another team. PFF also graded Alexander average. The Raiders can offer him that if he is takes a good price.
Darqueze Dennard – Connections
Dennard hasn’t had an interception in two seasons but the 29-year-old finished with completion percentage below fifty. He graded out as one of the better slot corners by PFF. His connection to Cincinnati is real thru Paulie G. who once coached there. Dennard is a low key corner who might get a nice deal. The Raiders should use their connections to add Dennard at a fair price.
Ronald Darby – Buy Low
Darby had a down season but he is still only 26. He hasn’t played more than 11 games since his second season in 2016. That could make him a bargain. His tackling isn’t great though either. Darby also contributed to that Super Bowl run in Philly which means he understands a Championship culture. The Raiders never overlook that so they should consider Darby, especially if his market is really quiet.
Darius Slay: The Trade
There are already rumors that the Raiders are interested in Slay. The corner has been falling out with the Lions for a while so this is not really a surprise. Slay will be 29 next year and he is two seasons removed from a 2017 season with 8 interceptions. He has been a Pro Bowler the past two years as well with 5 picks combined over that time. Of course, the Raiders would have to give up a draft pick to get Slay. That means paying the price somewhere between the player and mid round draft pick the Ravens gave up for a Marcus Peters fire sale or the first round pick the Rams gave up for Jalen Ramsey. This becomes more challenging since the Raiders don’t have a second round pick to trade or make up for trading away one of those three third rounders. Maybe, the Raiders offer a third rounder for Slay and that is enough. Either way, Vegas would still have to extend Slay past the 2020 season which isn’t ideal for a corner about to be 30, already making over $13 million this year.
Bashaud Breeland, Bradley Roby, Prince Amukamara, Eli Apple, Vernon Hargreaves and Josh Norman have all been free agents the past year. They all fall in that we should have signed you a few years ago category with the exception of Apple who has been traded a few times in his young career. Yeah, I know Darby was free before too. The point is, the Raiders have always been a scorn lover and they don’t forget when you did not consider them.
Again, the Raiders plan for corner will come down to price and value. Vegas should a lot at least eight figures to the corner position to not one big name guy and potentially another veteran for depth.
There are a number of corners who are hitting the open market because the teams don’t have flexibility to bring them back even on reasonable contracts. That’s why it is difficult to predict what route the Raiders go in free agency.
Obviously, they’ll start with Jones since he is versatile and probably the best player in the group. He could play safety and let Joyner move to the slot or play outside and keep Joyner out of the slot.
Bradberry is also another guy who is hitting the market at the perfect time. The Raiders should work hard to get him but he will be in high demand especially given the lack of top corners in the draft.
Personally, I side on experience and price over youth and potential in free agency. That’s why I like Jimmy Smith or Chris Harris if the Raiders strike out on the top corners. Their Super Bowl experience is priceless and they have the swagger Raiders DBs need. However, I wouldn’t be mad if they took a shot on Fuller long-term or short-term. I also like Dennard, MacKensie or Alexander if the price is right. The Raiders can spread the extra cash around the rest of the defense that way too.