The Raiders have a young cornerback corps, in need of experience. That’s where Nevin Lawson comes in. The former Detroit Lions cover man signed with the Raiders on Wednesday night, the team announced, and joins a group headlined by Gareon Conley.
Lawson signed a one-year, $3.05 million contract, a league source said, becoming the second defensive player added in as many days.
Lawson joins Conley and Daryl Worley, fully expected back on a second-round restricted free agent tender, and second-year man Nick Nelson.
High-profile free-agent signing Lamarcus Joyner is a safety by title, but will often play slot cornerback.
Lawson played more in the slot last year than ever, with 389 snaps inside and 402 near the boundaries.
He doesn’t have any interceptions as a professional -- teammates must give him grief over that one -- but has 25 passes defensed. According to analytics site Pro Football Focus, quarterbacks have a 103.3 passer rating when targeting him.
Lawson has been a steady starter the past three seasons and will surely compete for a significant role in Oakland as well. He’ll fight for a spot inside or out, and offers veteran’s experience where there isn’t much at this stage.
It doesn’t eliminate the prospect of drafting a cornerback relatively high, but it will create legitimate position battles this summer.
Lawson’s listed at 5-foot-9, 192 pounds. That’s a bit shorter than the Raiders prefer, but has proven reliable with just four missed games in the last four seasons.
Lawson visited the Raiders facility earlier Wednesday and came out with a contract. Several other defensive backs came in around the same time. That included safety George Iloka, who played for Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther in Cincinnati. Reports also stated safety Curtis Riley was in the building. So was cornerback Tyler Patmon, per the Las Vegas Review Journal.
The Raiders could still be on the lookout for safety help on the free-agent market as they fortify the depth chart with lower-cost options after spending big on offense early in the free agent process.
Joyner was the high-profile defensive signing, with defensive lineman Josh Mauro, linebacker Vontaze Burfict and now Lawson in free agency’s later stages.