The Las Vegas Raiders aggressively signed key defensive players this past free agency. One of them, safety Jeff Heath, talks about the process of giving the team’s defense a makeover.
The Raiders had a porous secondary in 2019. As as whole, they allowed 32 touchdowns. Needing to improve their unit, the Raiders added Heath among others. In the latest Upon Further Review podcast, Heath talks to host Eddie Paskal about how he joined the Silver and Black.
Raiders: It Wasn’t A Difficult Decision
Heath wasn’t the only ex-Cowboys player to join the Raiders in free agency. Maliek Collins and Jason Witten signed with Las Vegas too. On the podcast, the safety brings up a phone call he had with Witten.
“We talked on the phone for like an hour on the phone. Just talking about all the stuff, all the meetings, all the stuff that we are learning, he’s learning on offense, I’m learning on defense. You also mentioned Maliek, whose locker room in Dallas was right across from mine. We were always talking, hanging out. It’s funny when coach Gruden was talking to me during free agency. I’m gonna try to get Witten and Maliek Collins too. Before I even made my decision I saw the scroll on ESPN. Maliek Collins and Jason Witten sign with the Raiders. I think that’s my sign, I think I have to go ahead and do this too. I’m really excited to have those guys out here too.”
Walking Down the Same Road
Las Vegas secondary will have a complete different look in 2020. Fortunately, this is not the first time Heath goes through a situation like this. The safety experienced something similar with the Cowboys, and that should equip him to smooth the transition.
“I think it’s super exciting. I went through something like that in Dallas where I think it was between either my third and four year or my fourth or fifth year. We had five DBs leaving in free agency all veteran our DBs left in free agency and we drafted four DBs. I went from being the youngest guy in the group to the oldest guy in the group with all these new rookies. I think we had a couple of second-year guys. It was in a matter of months that the room had five guys out, five guys in.”
The Beginning of Something New
Heath sees this as an opportunity to build rapport with all his teammates after being part of similar process in Dallas.
“That was an awesome opportunity really to just build a new kind of mentality, a new goal. Especially, when you get these young guys that kind of come in and have all this energy. It’s just a different generation, but those guys are really important to keep them around and groom up, keeping it fun. Then, the veteran players you have there to hopefully teach the young guys how to mantain their career in the NFL and how to become a pro. How to take care of their bodies, all that stuff. It sounds like we have that with Las Vegas too. You have a great group of veteran guys, a great good of young guys, we’re all new We’re going to be in a new place, we’re going to go through that together. I think it’s just really exciting.”
Heath will play a vital role on both special teams and defense for the Raiders. Also, he will serve as a veteran presence that helps the organization improve on and off the field.
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