One position the Las Vegas Raiders will surely consider in free agency, which starts on March 17, is safety — and fortunately they are in luck.
The position is loaded and keeps getting better. This week, safety starters Ricardo Allen and Tre Boston were released by the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers, respectively. Both are now free to sign anywhere.
The Raiders are expected to upgrade at safety. Third-year player Johnathan Abram has had trouble staying healthy, and has struggled in coverage and with on-field discipline.
Meanwhile, Jeff Heath is the type of player teams would rather have as a backup, and Erik Harris is a free agent.
The Raiders are far from giving up on Abram. They need to pair him with a good, strong back-of-the-defense partner. I wouldn’t get too worried about the need for a free or strong safety, however. In today’s NFL, most safety spots are interchangeable, so the Raiders will be flexible in their pursuit at the position.
The Raiders won’t have a ton to spend and they have other needs, so they will likely not be at the top of the free-agent market. That may take them out of contention for top safeties Justin Simmons and Anthony Harris, if their markets are robust.
But the good news for the Raiders is there are so many quality safeties and it is not a high-priority position around the league, so there will be some bargains out there.
Players like John Johnson (who might be a perfect fit for Las Vegas because he is so fundamentally strong), Marcus Maye and Marcus Williams could all be great upgrades for the Raiders at a reasonable rate. Other safeties who could fit the Raiders in free agency include Jaquiski Tartt, Shawn Williams and Daniel Sorenson.
Former first-round picks Malik Hooker and Keanu Neal could also be cheap reclamation projects. Then, there’s Raiders’ 2016 first-round pick, Karl Joseph, who is back on the market after a one-season stint with the Cleveland Browns.
Chargers’ free agents Rayshawn Jenkins and Jaheel Addae could be interesting because they played for new Las Vegas defensive coordinator Gus Bradley in Los Angeles.
Whatever direction the Raiders go at safety, there are plenty of solid options in free agency.