The Las Vegas Raiders’ safety unit struggled in 2022. With Trevon Moehrig taking a step back and the release of Johnathan Abram, it leaves plenty of questions. Duron Harmon turned out to be a sound addition last offseason. In a move that paid dividends, Harmon made several huge plays throughout the season. Yet, given Harmon’s age and Moehrig’s regression, the Raiders could still look to revamp the safety group. With the offseason upon us, here are some top options to fill the safety hole in 2023.
Raiders Free Agency: Should Las Vegas Rebuild The Safety Group?
Despite approaching 32 years of age, Jordan Poyer has shown very few signs of slowing down. The strong safety has become a fixture in a top defense, totaling four or more interceptions in three out of his last five seasons. If the Raiders decide to go in on a winning defense, Poyer is a terrific option. He would most likely be a two-year rental to fill up the middle of the field. Although he missed time in 2022 due to injury, this isn’t a common theme, and durability isn’t a huge concern. With Buffalo against the cap in 2023, I expect a slew of teams to pursue Poyer. The Raiders would be wise to do their homework on the 11-year veteran.
As a member of a dominant San Francisco 49ers defense, Jimmie Ward has been the definition of reliable. Ward’s ball skills have improved throughout his career, totaling five interceptions in his last two seasons. Although he’s 31, he would be a cheaper option than Jordan Poyer or Jessie Bates III. The Raiders could prefer the versatility of Ward to other options at safety. In his career, Ward has played nickel cornerback as well as both safety positions. The veteran, like Poyer, would most likely not be a long-term option but could play a massive part in strengthening the Raiders’ defense.
Jessie Bates III
This will get forgotten but it set up that crazy QB sneak fumble play
One hell of an angle and hit by Jessie Bates pic.twitter.com/KI7e6rhl3Y
— Brad Kelly (@CoachBKelly) January 16, 2023
We’re saving the best for last with this one. After being franchise tagged by Cincinnati in 2022, Jessie Bates III will be an extremely popular free agent target this offseason. The Raiders could use Bates’ ball skills in a turnover-needy defense. In all but one season of his career, Bates has recorded three or more interceptions. The addition of Bates could be lethal in terms of coverage if Moehrig trends upward in 2023. They’d make a potentially special duo under Patrick Graham. The 25-year-old won’t be cheap, but the Raiders should be desperate for an investment in the secondary.
*Top Photo: Getty Images Pool