All but one of the Raiders free agent acquisitions this offseason have been at defensive back. Even the two biggest re-signed players were defensive backs-Tyvon Branch and Michael Huff. I suppose it is no coincidence that Dennis Allen is a former defensive backs coach.
The team has added four new corners this offseason-Brandon Underwood, Ron Bartell, Shawntae Spencer, and Pat Lee. Well, technically Pat Lee has not officially joined the team but Reggie McKenzie said today that the team will be adding him shortly.
This means the Raiders will have a nearly unrecognizable group of corners. There isn't a single player among them who was on the roster in 2010 and just second year corners DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa returning from last season.
Last season's starters, Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson were both cut this offseason. And Dennis Allen sees the newly remade group as a step up.
"I think from a secondary standpoint, with Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch, I feel real good about that position." Said Allen in a Sirius satellite radio interview on Monday. "Corner was a position we had to make sure we had to upgrade. I think we did a nice job of that, Shawntae Spencer and obviously Ron Bartell. We're excited about who we have back there and we're looking forward to continuing throughout the free agency process and throughout the draft and seeing if we can acquire some more players."
At this point, adding more in the draft is a good idea for the future of the team but where would they put them all? The team can't be made up of all cornerbacks. Then again, there is still room for depth at safety. Matt Giordano is a free agent and Mike Mitchell's days may be numbered if the light doesn't come on for him in training camp this year.
But still, if Allen thinks Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer are an upgrade over last year's starters Routt, Johnson, and Lito Sheppard, it is hard to argue with that. Bartell has certainly been better at times in his career than anyone in this group and Spencer has had some success as well. And the fact that they are considerably cheaper than Routt and Johnson is a big plus for the Raiders as well.