Providing a Safety Net: Reggie Nelson or Shalom Luani?
The preseason is over, the heavy hits begin next week. It’s time to start cutting the fat.
Now that the Oakland Raiders have gotten through the headache that is preseason, it’s time to get down to brass tax. Who’s getting cut and who’s officially donning the silver and black will soon be known to the world. The most anticipated area of the field on the Raiders’ roster is undoubtedly the secondary. There’s no question that the defensive backs corp of the Raiders has been questionable at best, but the offseason saw some promising acquisitions.
One such acquisition was in the 7th round of the draft when Oakland general manager extraordinaire Reggie McKenzie chose Washington State safety Shalom Luani. This proved to be a very lucrative late-round steal. Luani has spent the preseason showing the bosses why he deserves his roster spot.
The Battle to be the Best
In order to make himself valuable in the long-term, Luani has a very big name to compete with: pro-bowl safety Reggie Nelson. Nelson signed a 2-year contract with the Raiders in 2016, which will expire after the 2017 season. He didn’t have quite the impact on paper that was expected, but on the field showed a different story. He saved the day on several occasions, with 4 of his 5 interceptions being late game-winning picks. Watching him run around the field and trying to be a cover man in every aspect showed that he’s still willing to work for his money, but he might be more willing to pass on his knowledge to benefit the next generation.
But being a 33-year old safety in the NFL means your time left on the field is short. Perhaps that was the thought process, after all, Reggie McKenzie is known for his foresight and investment in the future.
Matching a player like Luani with a safety that has hit elite status the level of Reggie Nelson means that the Raiders may benefit both in the short- and long-term. They still get the benefit of a veteran on the field who is showing that he has some fight left in him yet. Plus, the team gets the advantage of the athleticism and youth of a rookie who clearly wants to make his mark on the game.
Who wins there? The Raiders, all day long.