Defensive Back Still Remains Raiders’ Biggest Need

Nov 22, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (center) in the huddle with teammates against the Kansas City at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders have had a busy start to free agency, but defensive back still remains the Raiders’ biggest need. They addressed the defensive line, and now it’s time to go after a veteran presence in the secondary.

Vegasí defense last season was awful, and thatís being nice. The defensive line struggled to get after the quarterback, and the secondary always looked confused. New defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has his work cut out for him in year one. 

The team has made moves to beef up the line by adding Yannick Ngakoue, Darius Philon, and Quinton Jefferson. Adding an actual veteran presence in the back end could have that defense finally turn the corner next season. 

The Defensive back still remains the Raiders’ biggest need. The Raiders have been trying to find its answer in the draft, and it hasnít worked out the past few seasons. Itís tough to get any rookie production when there are no quality veterans to help mentor them.†

Sometimes you need to give up draft capital or spend a little money to help take that next step as a franchise. 

Here are some available free agents the Raiders should think about signing in the next few weeks. 

Richard Sherman 

Dec 13, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman (25) looks on against the Washington Football Team during the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
© Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Sherman is getting up there in age, but he is still one of the top players at the cornerback position. He would bring championship experience, on-field production, and a presence to the locker room these young players need. 

Look what Sherman did for the 49ers just two seasons ago. He could do the same for the Raiders.

Sherman is also familiar with Gus Bradleyís defensive system. He was Shermanís coordinator for his first two seasons in Seattle. 

Malcolm Butler 

Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) intercepts a pass intended for Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark (17) during third quarter action. The Jacksonville Jaguars hosted the Tennessee Titans Sunday, December 13, 2020, at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jaguars trailed at the half 17 to 3. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union]
© Bob Self/Florida Times-Union via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Any football fan knows who Malcolm Butler is based on one play in the Super Bowl. The Titans released him before free agency because they didnít want to keep paying his massive contract he signed in 2018.

He is coming off of his best season since joining Tennessee. He played all 16 games, intercepted four passes, and helped Tennessee win the AFC South.

Heís 31 but showed he still has some left in the tank. Butler could be a solid option on a one or two-year deal in Vegas. 

Defensive back still remains the Raiders’ biggest need. The Raiders have struggled to get pressure and generate turnovers over the last several seasons. Butler could help change that immediately.†

Steven Nelson

Jan 3, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talks with cornerback Steven Nelson (22) during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
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Nelson was just let go by the Steelers after two seasons with the team. The Raiders should be all over this and work fast because he wonít be on the market very long.

Nelson is an underrated cover corner who could come in and start right away. He played on some good Steeler and Chiefs defenses throughout his career. 

He could come in and make an immediate impact in the Vegas locker room.

Xavier Woods

Sep 20, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback safety Xavier Woods (25) celebrates after they recovered an on-side kick in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
© Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Xavier Woods is an interesting free agent. Heís been a reliable option on a Dallas defense that has been slandered over the past few seasons.

Woods has been durable since entering the league. Heís only missed four games in four seasons and has been to the playoffs. He is one of the more undervalued safeties in the NFL. 

The Raiders need another safety to pair with Johnathan Abram. Abram is better when he gets to blitz and check players at the line of scrimmage. 

Adding Woods to this secondary will bring leadership and compatibility to help this young group take the next step. 

Malik Hooker

Dec 1, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback safety Malik Hooker (29) reacts to recovering a fumble against the Tennessee Titans during the first quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
© Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Hooker would be a young, versatile option at the safety position. Abram is better around the line of scrimmage, where he can use his physicality. Hooker would be that centerfielder who helps guide the defense from the backend. 

Hooker is coming off a severe achilles injury and hasnít played an entire season since entering the league. However, he is only 24 years old and wonít cost a ton in free agency. 

I believe Hooker has a lot of untapped potential, but heís been plagued with injuries. Vegas could be the place he thrives. Certain players need a change of scenery, and a few players found it in Vegas last season. 

Thereís no reason Hooker wouldnít be able to do the same.

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