Starters: Karl Joseph, Erik Harris
Backups: Dallin Leavitt, Tevin Mitchell
Free agents: Reggie Nelson, Marcus Gilchrist,
With a new coaching staff in place, Karl Joseph was not highly regarded. He saw just 11 snaps on defense in the first six games and was rumored to be on the trade block along with Amari Cooper. The Raiders found a taker in Dallas who gave up a first round pick for Cooper, but didn’t get an offer that had them part ways with Joseph.
At the bye, the Raiders were 1-5 and began thinking long term. That involved seeing what Joseph could bring to the defense. It proved to be plenty as he was the best safety in the division over the second half of the season and Gruden is talking about him as a key piece to the future and the team has opted to pick up his fifth year option.
Harris was also a surprise late in the season. His emergence was not expected coming into the offseason, but Gruden gushed about him and Harris went about proving his coach prophetic. His late season play is a small sample size, so we don’t yet know whether he is the team’s long term starting safety.
Nelson and Gilchrist were short term patches who are likely to be allowed to move on. Leavitt and Mitchell are undrafted roster hopefuls.
Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden have both said safety is a primary focus this offseason. It suggests maybe they don’t see Harris as the long term answer. Joseph is a lock and Harris held his own late last season and should at least be given a shot to win the starting job. But with no depth otherwise, adding a safety or two is a necessity.
What condition do you think the Raiders’ safety position is in?
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