General manager Reggie McKenzie has drafted five cornerbacks, signed seven expected starters in offseason free agency and claimed another on waivers during his Raiders tenure. He doesn’t have much to show for it.
The veteran additions rarely lasted long – in fairness, most were viewed as stopgaps -- averaging 1.25 seasons in silver and black, though one vet, Sean Smith, remains under contract at least to this point.
Amateur selections haven’t panned out, though there’s hope Gareon Conely can anchor his position group after a rookie season lost to a shin injury.
Last year’s first-round pick is penciled into the starting lineup, but uncertainty reigns at that position.
David Amerson was cut earlier this offseason. Smith remains on the roster, though it’s likely the $8.25 million he’s due is taken off the books. TJ Carrie is a week from unrestricted free agency.
The Raiders need to find solutions, long-term preferably, at this vital spot.
There are some top-flight cornerbacks in this draft, though it’s possible Ohio State’s Denzel Ward is gone before the Raiders select No. 10 overall.
There’s a strong belief, after speaking to league sources at the NFL Scouting Combine, that the Raiders will address the position in free agency.
Virtual sure things cost significant funds, and Raiders salary-cap folks will be mindful of the massive extension eventually due to Khalil Mack.
There’s quality set to hit the open market. L.A. Rams cover man Trumaine Johnson and New England’s Malcolm Butler headline that list. Kyle Fuller received the transition tag – it only gives Chicago the right to match an offer – and could be had with a weighty, well-crafted deal and no compensation sent the Bears’ way. Chicago, however, clearly wants to keep him. Indianapolis’ Rashaan Melvin should also be available after a breakout year disrupted some by a hand injury.
There’s also quality in the next tier – those guys would be better economic fits -- to get a No. 2 corner with Conley as the top guy.
Acquiring an established veteran shouldn’t stop the Raiders from re-signing Carrie. He wants to remain in Oakland, and the Raiders like him. He is a quality contributor who could prove a steady No. 3 with starter’s experience in 2018. Bringing him back would be a smart play.
The Raiders could still draft a prospect later on to provide injury protection and possibly fortify the group long-term.
That’s essential for a team that has ranked 20th or worse in five of McKenzie’s six seasons as general manager and no better than 24th the past three years, after he has a chance to finally fix the secondary.