The Las Vegas Raiders now have an opportunity to bolster their defensive backfield and bring two familiar faces back together.
Cornerback Casey Hayward, a player that new Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is familiar with, was recently released. The Silver and Black desperately need help in their backfield, as the pass defense was 26th in the NFL last year. There’s some promising talent at cornerback but more will be needed. Trayvon Mullen is a potential Pro Bowler but last year’s rookie, Damon Arnette, struggled mightily. Picking up Hayward could give the Raiders a reliable corner, perhaps an instant starter. This would also address that need ahead of the NFL draft.
Another benefit of adding Hayward would be his familiarity with Bradley and his system. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if Bradley does indeed request Hayward with the start of NFL free agency days away. In a crucial season where the Raiders are hoping to finally make the playoffs, surrounding Bradley with reliable talent will be of the utmost importance.
What would the Raiders be getting with Hayward?
The caveat in signing Hayward would obviously be his age, soon-to-be 32 years of age playing a position where Las Vegas needs speed. Furthermore, the Vanderbilt product is coming off a hamstring injury that landed him on the Injury Reserve list last year. At the same time, the Silver and Black don’t have anyone on their defensive roster with the kind of accolades that Hayward has earned. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler with two All-Pro nods and a recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
Prior to his injury, Hayward was having another solid campaign in 2020. In pass coverage, he was targeted 77 times, surrendering 38 receptions, and a 49.4 completion percentage. In addition, he accumulated eight passes defensed and one interception. For the right price and if he’s truly healthy, there’s no reason the Raiders shouldn’t pounce on Hayward.
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