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Raiders Offseason 2023: Two less heralded but key re-signs

Duron Harmon, Jarrett Stidham are priority in-house free agents Las Vegas should bring back before market opens

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers
Veteran safety Duron Harmon (30) is an unrestricted free agent but his return would provide valuable knowledge to what’s likely to be a young Las Vegas Raiders secondary.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

One is long in the tooth. The other is still scratching the surface.

Yet, Duron Harmon and Jarrett Stidham remain key aspects to the Las Vegas Raiders, making the veteran safety and quarterback priority resigns before free agency opens in March.

Both showed flashes of quality play this past season and are well-versed in the defensive and offensive scheme. So, if nothing else, Harmon and Stidham can serve as valuable bridge type players at their respective positions as the Silver & Black continue to blaze a path under head Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler.

And here’s the kicker on both players: They won’t be overtly expensive.

When the new Raiders power structure of McDaniels and Ziegler began to install their philosophy and system in the desert last offseason, Harmon and Stidham provided value knowledge transfer to the rest of the roster. The 31-year-old safety had a grounding of the defense from his six prior seasons with the New England Patriots from 2013-19, while the 26-year old quarterback is steeped in the offense since getting drafted by the Patriots back in 2019.

Both were go-to types for answers to questions from other players on the roster on assimilating to McDaniels’ offense and Patrick Graham’s defense.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Las Vegas Raiders
Bringing back Jarrett Stidham to the Las Vegas Raiders fold would prove fruitful for general manager Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels. He’s so well-versed in the offensive system he can continue to impart that knowledge and help teammates grow.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“We were all out there trying to learn formations, and he’s (identifying the middle linebacker) and all that,” tight end Darren Waller recalled of the offseason and how Stidham facilitated things before the Raiders Week 17 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. “Right away, we took note that he knew what he was doing. Guys have been asking him questions since this whole thing started, so we believe in him for sure.”

“We knew who he was since camp,” running back Josh Jacobs said of Stidham, echoing Waller’s thoughts. “He can spin the ball. He’s been in the system and knows what’s going on. He knows what reads to make.”

Stidham’s two-game showing at the end of Las Vegas’ 2022 campaign was enlightening as it showed the signal caller at his best (23 of 34 for 365 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions with 34 yards rushing on seven carries in a 37-34 overtime loss to the 49ers) and worst (22 of 36 for 219 yards, one touchdown, one interception, 50 yards rushing on seven carries and sacked six times in a 31-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs). He did go 0-2 in his starts, but the flashes Stidham shows merits another go-around as McDaniels’ quarterback.

Harmon, on the other hand, was a steadying presence in the secondary ravaged by injury and ineffectiveness. The 10-year veteran started all but one game this past season and finished with 86 total tackles with two interceptions (one a pick six), five passes defensed and two forced fumbles. Pro Football Reference charts Harmon with allowing 44 receptions for 693 yards and three touchdowns. Not encouraging numbers but considering the defense as a whole was ineffective, that’ll put it into context.

Reupping both Harmon and Stidham to short deals — Harmon did sign a one-year pact this past offseason — can prove fruitful. In Stidham’s case, a potential two- to three-year deal may be in order. Because in the quarterback’s case, unless Las Vegas lands another McDaniels disciple that can hit the ground running at the position, Stidham is the best in-house bet.