The Raiders were on the hunt for safety help in free agency. They tried to land Jimmie Ward on Monday night, but didn’t get him. He ended up staying with the 49ers.
Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock kept on pushing and landed Jeff Heath on a two-year contract Tuesday afternoon, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area.
ESPN's Todd Archer first reported the news and said Heath’s deal is worth up to $8 million.
The 28-year old former Dallas Cowboy has been a full-time starter the past three seasons. He has eight career interceptions and five forced fumbles.
The Raiders have been looking for someone to pair with 2019 first-round pick Johnathan Abram, who missed 15 games last year with a shoulder injury. He’ll be healthy and ready to go whenever the Raiders offseason is allowed to start following an indefinite postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Heath had 63 tackles in 13 games played in 2019, allowing 31 receptions for 324 yards and two touchdowns in coverage, per analytics site Pro Football Focus.
Erik Harris will compete with Heath for playing time alongside Abram after starting at free safety most of last year.
The Heath signing also makes it far more likely Karl Joseph signs elsewhere. The Raiders’ 2016 first-round pick was playing his best football in 2019 before suffering a season-ending foot injury. The Raiders declined his fifth-year option last spring, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Heath becomes the fourth presumed defensive starter added in free agency. Collins should start on the interior defensive line, with Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski has frontline linebackers. The Silver and Black would still like to add a cornerback, if possible, to start opposite Trayvon Mullen.