To say the Raiders have need at cornerback is not breaking news. They've had a need a cornerback for some time now. This includes last offseason when they did nothing in free agency to fix the issue. At least not until stumbling upon David Amerson on the waiver wire after week two. Here they are again, but this time the need could match the market, with several very talented corners set to hit free agency.
Here are the players who I could see the Raiders showing considerable interest:
Trumaine Johnson, Rams
Better man cover skills than Janoris [Jenkins], but less of an overall athlete. Has grown into perhaps the more reliable player, but definitely needed time on the learning curve. Has the better size of the two and carries it well. Has a more worrisome injury history than Janoris after four NFL seasons, most notably with an MCL injury in 2014. -- Joe McAtee, Turf Show Times
Arguably the best corner set to hit the market. I say "set to hit the market" because I see no way the Panthers don't at very least slap the franchise tag on Josh Norman.
Johnson was a the third round pick by the Rams in the 2012 draft out of Montana. In his four-year career, he has totaled 15 interceptions and 42 passes defended including a career year in 2015, with seven interceptions and 17 passes defended.
It would be homecoming for this Stockton Native to come to Oakland. Though if he were re-signed by the Rams, he would be heading to Los Angeles, which isn't so far away either. At 6-1, 205 pounds, he also has the size the Raiders covet.
Janoris Jenkins, Rams
"Solid man cover skills, but is overly aggressive. Will get you picks based on instinct, but is incredibly vulnerable to double moves. Requires safety help to keep the top on. Definitely meets the mark for athleticism and strength, though he is a bit undersized. Plus tackler in run support for a corner." -- Joe McAtee, Turf Show Times
Yup, two Rams corners top this list. Both are good, and the Rams would be hard pressed to keep both. Johnson seems the most likely to be held onto, though with several key free agents the Rams must re-sign, including two top corners, it seems likely one of them will get away, with whichever of the two agrees to a more friendly deal would get that contract.
Janoris Jenkins was selected in the second round, 39th overall, in the 2012 draft, coming out of the University of North Alabama after transferring from the University of Florida due to run-ins with the law and character concerns. Jenkins has cleaned up his act during his NFL career, and has continued to play well, totaling 10 career interceptions and 48 career defended passes, as well as five touchdowns on interception returns. in 2015, Jenkins had three interceptions and 15 passes defended.
Sean Smith, Chiefs
"I would put money on him leaving KC but the Chiefs really should find a way to bring him back. Their defense was completely different without Smith, who is a very good corner. Not a shutdown corner type but a physical corner who will do more good than bad. He signed a team friendly deal in KC three years ago so I suspect he's looking for a big contract. Unless KC uses the franchise tag on him. I assume he's gone. - Joel Thorman, Arrowhead Pride
It's always good to take top players from division rivals. As far as the secondary, Eric Berry would be the ultimate prize, but Sean Smith would be a nice consolation. He has been a starter in the NFL since day one as the Dolphinssecond round pick in 2009 out of Utah. Just like Trumaine Johnson, Smith is a big corner (6-2, 215) and, being from Pasadena, he would be making his return to his native California.
Casey Hayward, Packers
Casey Hayward is a pretty darn good slot corner. If you need somebody with quickness, good anticipation, and good ball skills, Hayward is your guy. If you want somebody tall with good deep speed to match up against tall and fast receivers like Demaryius Thomas, you should probably look elsewhere.
Hayward's best season was his rookie year, when he picked off six passes and burst on the scene. That year, he actually played relatively well on the perimeter, but he has been "just a guy" when playing outside since then. His 2013 was a lost season due to hamstring injuries, and in 2014 and 2015, he was used primarily in the slot. - Evan "Tex" Western, Acme Packing Company
The first original draft class players are now coming from Green Bay in the post-Reggie McKenzie era, so there are no direct ties to Reggie McKenzie. However, McKenzie learned everything he knows about being a General Manager from working with Ted Thompson, so they tend to have similar tastes in players.
Patrick Robinson, Chargers
The second best CB on the Chargers last season, they'd be nuts to let him walk. He was excellent as a nickel CB and even better when he was called to start in place of Brandon Flowers. He plays the player more than the ball in man-coverage, and can sometimes get lost when going up against someone like a Demaryius Thomas, but that's few and far between. Grading him just on the 2015 season, he's ready to be an above-average starting cornerback in the NFL. - John Gennaro, Bolts From the Blue
Just like the Chiefs, the Chargers have two key members of their secondary set to become free agents. Eric Weddle is all but gone already. Robinson's exit would be another hit to that defensive backfield. Should the Raiders be unable to get one of the above top free agent corners, Robinson could be a solid addition.
Other decent options:
Brandon Boykin, Steelers
Boykin is a great slot cornerback, but doesn't transition well to the outside. Great in coverage, but certainly lacks physicality and sometimes shies away from tackling.
My prediction: After his treatment in Pittsburgh he can't wait to find a change of scenery, but stranger things have happened with the Steelers desperate to keep at least one of their three starting CB free agents on the team. - Jeff Hartman. Behind the Steel Curtain
Nolan Carroll, Eagles
"[After signing a 2-year free agent deal] He spent most of the 2014 season as Philadelphia's dime cornerback. The Eagles kept Carroll around for the 2015 season despite some speculation he could be cut to save cap space. Eagles players and coaches raved about the offseason Carroll had. He entered training camp in a position battle with rookie Eric Rowe for the outside cornerback job. Carroll won it easily and started for most of the season until suffering a season-ending ankle injury on Thanksgiving. Carroll was a solid No. 2 starter, in my opinion.
I don't think he's exceptionally good or exceptionally weak at anything. Just an overall solid cornerback to have. Not a guy you break the bank for. Just a cost effective starter." - Brandon Gowton, Bleeding Green Nation
As you can see, there's a lot of talent to be had on the free agent market. There's no excuse for the Raiders not to land one of these starting caliber free agents. I expect one of these players will be signing a deal in Oakland here in a month.