The Las Vegas Raiders have invested heavily in their defense after a historically bad season in 2020. All roster subtractions and additions aside, the team still has some free agent options ahead of camp.
We recently looked at some offensive free agents that could still make their way onto a Raiders uniform. Much like the team’s offensive line, the defense went through a makeover of their own. The unit will continue featuring promising contributors from last year’s group such as Trayvon Mullen, Nicholas Morrow, and Nick Kwiatkoski. Of course, the team’s mainstays will return in 2021 such as Maxx Crosby, Clelin Ferrell, and Johnathan Abram.
To compensate for several of last year’s deficiencies, the Raiders signed a bevy of defensive line free agents along with cornerback Casey Hayward. As of this article’s writing, Over The Cap has the Raiders listed with upwards of nearly $5.8 million in cap space ahead of camp. With the draft fully in the organization’s rearview mirror, some current defensive free agents are still worth a look.
Who should the Raiders at least consider?
Melvin Ingram III, EDGE
The defense got a major upgrade when the team’s brass made their splash signing in Yannick Ngakoue. The team made several changes at the EDGE position, in particular, they parted ways with Arden Key but kept Carl Nassib. The organization also drafted linebacker Malcolm Koonce who’ll be battling for snaps as he develops into a full-time pass rusher. However, Ingram is a proven commodity who can still make an impact if he can find a way to stay healthy.
With a few potential playmakers in place heading into camp, Ingram’s value could come as a depth piece. Also, with Ngakoue likely commanding a lot of attention, this will free up Crosby and in theory, Ingram if he were to join. The veteran will likely have to settle for a one-year deal somewhere, maybe the Raiders will make the call.
Nickell Robey-Coleman, CB
Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has an interesting cornerback group in his first season. Mullen is solid and could certainly become a Pro Bowler under his scheme. Damon Arnette struggled mightily in his rookie year but he’s far from being done and could bounce back in 2021. Hayward’s a Pro Bowler himself who had his best years under Bradley in Los Angeles. How these pieces will be used to address the slot remains to be seen. The team still has Amik Robertson but taking a flyer on Robey-Coleman wouldn’t hurt.
The former Philadelphia Eagle could provide a veteran boost to help man the slot by committee. As a part of one of the better NFL secondary’s in Los Angeles from 2017-2019, Robey-Coleman posted three interceptions and 20 passes defensed. After his run as a Ram, his production took a huge dip in ‘Philly’ but he’s still aggressive and could turn it around under Bradley being only 29 years old.
Gareon Conley, CB
Yes, the same Conley that was canned by the Raiders’ brain trust. The thing about any defensive failures these past three years for the Raiders is that we have the ‘Paul Guenther’ factor. I’m not suggesting Conley will suddenly become a Pro Bowler under Bradley but we have to wonder how he could perform in his scheme. As a side note, per Pro Football Focus, Conley’s forced incompletions on 22.2% of his targets, the second-best rate in the NFL since 2017.
The former 24th overall pick still has potential after missing the 2020 season. So, why not take a flyer on him and see if a competent defensive coordinator can make a difference?
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