clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Poll Position: Do Raiders have a need at safety?

New, comments
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Since I won't be getting into special teams, we reach our final Poll Position. After this I will tally up the votes and put out the order of Raiders team needs. It's appropriate that the last position we take a look at is the last line of defense - safety.

Safety is where we find two of the longest tenured Raiders - Tyvon Branch and Charles Woodson. Branch has been with the team since 2008 (7 seasons) and Charles Woodson has been a Raider for two stints which add up to a decade in a Raiders uniform (1998-2005, 2013-14). The only longer tenured Raiders than either of these two are Sebastian Janikowski (15 years) and Jon Condo (8 years).

Let's see how the safety position looks as a whole.

Charles Woodson

Was just re-signed by the team to return for another season. He has shown no signs of slowing down even at the age of 38, heading into his 18th NFL season. He played a good amount of strong safety last season and had a lot of success there, leading the team in tackles (111) and interceptions (4). He nearly had as many interceptions as the rest of the team combined (5).

Tyvon Branch

The Raiders will have a tough call to make with Branch this season. He has been lost for the season in the first three weeks both of the past two seasons and he is the highest paid player on the team at nearly $10 million against the cap. If they cut him, they'll be saddled with $6.7 million in dead money, so best case scenario is a restructure of some kind. If not, he could be cut either this year or next because his contract only gets more expensive after this season. He is also a strong safety by trade and Woodson played better at the position last season than he did at free safety.

Brandian Ross

Stepped up and played some very good safety for the Raiders last season. It was a huge surprise considering he was one of the worst rated safety in the league in 2013. He also played a decent bit of slot corner when called upon. If he can keep up that level of play, he will be an asset next season.

Usama Young

Appeared in six games, starting three last season before being lost to injury. He is not a guy you want to rely upon to start, but he is good depth.

Jonathan Dowling

The team's final draft pick of 2014 probably should have been placed on the practice squad from the beginning of the season but for some reason was kept on the roster all season long. He was raw and needed to bulk up. Could be nothing more than depth and a special teams player.

Larry Asante

Spent some of camp with the team and then was brought back midseason as an injury replacement. Actually played fairly decent. He is a very sure tackler, but struggles in coverage.