Raiders Secondary Will Need More Fine Tuning This Offseason

The Raiders secondary showed flashes of growth, but they were exactly that, glimpses. There’s exceptional young talent in the backfield but more so than most positions, it has to be addressed annually.

Moving up or Moving on? Vol. 9: Secondary

Let’s take a look at who should be moving up with the Raiders, or moving on.

Daryl Worley, CB

Split decision; In 15 games, Worley racked up 58 tackles (51 solo, 7 assisted, 1 for loss), eight passes defensed and one fumble recovery. He is an unrestricted free agent and could be brought back for the right price. Both may decide to part ways and pursue something different. I believe he should be brought back on a one-year prove-it deal.

Trayvon Mullen, CB

Moving up; Mullen played in all 16 games. He racked up 48 tackles (40 solo, 8 assisted), had 10 passes defensed and one interception. Going into the second year, he has something to build on and can be the starting corner the Raiders have lacked for so long.

Related: Raiders shouldn’t overspend in free agency

Nevin Lawson, CB

Moving up; Lawson was just extended through 2020. In 2019, he racked up 23 tackles (19 solo, 4 assisted, 2 for loss), one quarterback hit and five passes defensed in 11 games.

Isaiah Johnson, CB

Moving up; Johnson started the season on IR, after that, he played five games with one pass defensed. Played mostly in Special teams but has the potential to earn a starting defense role in camp, or at least rotational.

Lamarcus Joyner, S

Moving up; Joyner played in 14 games racking up 49 tackles (41 solo, 8 assisted, 3 for loss) and had three passes defensed. Given his contract, Raiders should have gotten more out of him but I also feel he was misused. He has played corner and nickel well in the past, but roaming as the free safety is what built his reputation and I look forward to seeing him being reverted back to that in 2020. His contract is worth $9.2 million, but Las Vegas would be on the hook for $11.7 million of dead cap if he were cut.

Related: Raiders in Review: Darren Waller

Curtis Riley, S

Moving on; Riley is an unrestricted free agent and should not be brought back. In 16 games, he racked up 31 tackles (24 solo, 7 assisted, 2 for loss) one fumble forced and one pass defensed. The stats weren’t completely horrible but the visuals border-lined on it, I saw him get toasted too many times and with the Raiders saying Joyner will go back to free safety, I see no reason to keep Riley around.

Erik Harris, S

Moving up; Harris played in 16 games, he racked up 68 tackles (59 solo, 9 assisted, 1 for loss), eight passes defensed as well as three interceptions, two brought back for touchdowns. He is signed through 2020 but should earn an extension as he’s one of the bright spots on the defense. His story of going from chip factory worker to professional football player is also one that makes him a big fan favorite. You just have to love a good underdog story.

Karl Joseph, S

Split decision; Joseph is coming off an injury and is an unrestricted free agent. In nine games, he racked up 48 tackles (37 solo, 11 assisted, 4 for loss) three passes defensed, one fumble recovered and one interception. He reminded me of Arden Key this year in the sense that once the Raiders started to see him become the player he was meant to be, he got injured. I believe he has unfinished business with Las Vegas and should go back but that is something for both sides to discuss and could go either way.

Related: Possible Reinforcements for Josh Jacobs

Johnathan Abram, S

Moving up; Abram only got to play in one game this season as he was injured on the first game. Although only getting five tackles (1 solo, 4 assisted), and one pass defensed. He was all over the place and hurt himself early but played through it, showing his toughness. Here’s to hoping that was just a fluke and he has a great long season in 2020.

Any Others?

Raiders signed others that are under contract but never really saw the field like D.J. Killings and Nick Nelson. They also have a few others signed to reserve/future contract like Makinton Dorleant, Dylan Mabin, and Jordan Brown. I imagine a few of those guys will end up in camp, and maybe even win roster spots on special teams. There still should be free agent acquisitions and draftees coming in.

Final Words

These positions are not solid enough to stay as is. I would expect at least a safety and corner drafted for depth and camp battles, maybe even another veteran. These units were banged up all season and saw a lot of rotation. There are some bright spots here but more competition is needed to push those guys further. Paul Guenther has mentioned he likes safeties playing linebackers at times. The Raiders may add a few more so he can finally use those “disguised blitz packages” he keeps talking about.

One thing we do know for certain is in this pass happy league. The secondary should always be a primary concern. Nothing worse than seeing a line push a team back to 3rd and 20, only to watch the quarterback pick it up easily with a 40 yard pass between 2 defenders looking confused pointing at each other.

You May Also Like: Raiders Special Teams: Who’s leaving and who’s staying?

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