Oakland Raiders: Five More Free Agent Targets McKenzie Should Pursue
Jan 18, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell (41) defends a pass to Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (87) during the first quarter in the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
3. Byron Maxwell
The Raiders have a lot of very talented young cornerbacks on the roster, with DJ Hayden improving his game dramatically late last year and TJ Carrie surprising everyone with his solid cornerback play. Keith McGill showed some signs of being a quality corner late in the year, as well. Meanwhile, veteran free agent additions Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers underwhelmed, and neither of the two looks to be re-signed for 2015.
The Raiders may have identified a 2nd corner (Hayden), slot corner (Carrie) and dime corner (McGill), but as of right now the Raiders defense is missing a #1 cornerback and are in desperate need of some veteran experience in that group. Soon to be former Seahawk Byron Maxwell could provide that.
Byron Maxwell is the odd man out in the “Legion of Boom,” in that expendable “other cornerback” role opposite Richard Sherman, where both Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond both spent time. Browner and Thurmond have since caught on as quality cornerbacks for new teams. Despite sharing time over the last season with Jeremy Lane, Maxwell is viewed by many as the best cornerback available in the 2015 free agent class.
As one of the highest regarded cornerbacks on the market, Maxwell will likely command a much larger salary than the $675K he earned last season. Top-tier cornerbacks make $10M a year or more, and while Maxwell isn’t regarded as being in the same tier as Darelle Revis, Patrick Peterson or Richard Sherman, he’s certainly on par with Brandon Browner or Alterraun Verner, putting his potential value at somewhere near the $6M per year mark. He is turning 27 next week, meaning he is likely on the cusp of his career prime, which only enhances his value on the marketplace.
At 6’1″ and over 200 pounds, Maxwell is a big, physical cornerback who has spent his pro career playing a lot of “Press 3” or “Bail Zone” coverage, meaning he plays close to the wide receiver, often bumps him at the line of scrimmage, then has to fly back to a deep third zone, often having to run with a wide receiver on a deep pattern and read as he goes. With Ken Norton Jr. coming over from Seattle as the Raiders’ Defensive Coordinator, it’s likely that we see some of this coverage next year from the Raiders.
But we’ll likely see a lot more single-high cover 1 or cover 2 man coverage as well, which are Del Rio’s preferred coverage schemes. Still, a press-zone corner like Maxwell can play bump-and-run well, and his speed and quickness, along with his size and physicality, make him a good fit in these schemes as well. He’s a young corner who came up in the NFL’s best defense, the same system that the Raiders new defensive coordinator has been coaching in for over a decade. He could be the missing piece to that Raiders secondary.
Next: Target #4: Rodney Hudson