One of the Las Vegas Raiders’ top priorities in the 2023 offseason will be improving their defense. Patrick Graham’s unit ranked 26th in points per game allowed, 27th in yards per game allowed, and 30th in red zone defense. None of that is acceptable, but luckily, the Raiders will have plenty of cash available to fix the problem. Denzel Perryman and Rock Ya-Sin could be brought back by the team, but it’s unlikely that Clelin Ferrell will be, and the Raiders will have several holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball.
This free agency class is heavy on star defensive players, so this is as good a time as any to make a splash. Here are three defensive studs the Raiders should consider bringing in this offseason.
Raiders Free Agency: Addressing The Defense
Target No. 1: DB Jessie Bates III
For whatever reason, the Cincinnati Bengals haven’t made a long-term commitment to the 25-year-old Bates. He played on the franchise tag in 2022, and Cincinnati has made no overtures about signing Bates to a bigger deal. Bates is excellent against both the run and the pass and has been the heart of a Bengals defense that has made the playoffs the last two years. Bates is an iron man at safety, logging the second-most snaps at the position since 2018. Duron Harmon has played well across from Trevon Moehrig, but Bates would be a major improvement and solidify the Raiders’ secondary.
Target No. 2: DT Daron Payne
Payne has been an excellent run defender for the Washington Commanders since being drafted out of Alabama in 2018, but it’s his pass rush ability that should be most intriguing to the Raiders. Las Vegas hasn’t had a premier pass rusher on the interior since Richard Seymour, and Payne has been improving in that respect each year of his career. He has 95 quarterback pressures over the last two seasons, 10th best amongst defensive tackles, and has a very solid 11.8% pass rush win rate. Payne’s skill and presence in the middle would do wonders to open up more opportunities for the Raiders’ edge rushers and make Maxx Crosby even more dangerous than he already is.
Target No. 3: CB Marcus Peters
As an Oakland guy who plays a position of need, it’s a wonder Peters hasn’t been a Raider already. He’s a potential lockdown corner who wouldn’t break the bank and has been a defensive stalwart and a ballhawk on a very good Ravens team for several seasons. Peters is just the sort of talented veteran the Raiders should bring in to counter the outstanding quarterbacks in the AFC West. The Raiders need a lot of help with their pass defense, and Peters could certainly fit the bill. Peters is 30 and had an ACL injury in 2021, so he won’t get a long-term deal, but he showed against the Bengals in the playoffs that he’s still one of the best in the business.
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