With reports circulating that the Denver Broncos may release safety T.J. Ward, and the Raiders needing all the help they can get, could they make an effort to sign the veteran ball hawk?
Despite being one of the NFL’s most consistent and toughest safeties, T.J. Ward is on the verge of being released or traded. For the past three seasons, he has been the heart and soul of one the league’s toughest defenses. He may turn 31 during the upcoming season, but Ward can still help the Raiders young inexperienced safety crew.
Currently the Raiders will be trotting out safeties Reggie Nelson and Karl Joseph as the starters for Week 1, with Obi Melifonwu mixing in when either of them need a breather. Reggie Nelson may have finished the 2016 season with 65 total tackles and five interceptions, but he is on the wrong end of the age spectrum for the NFL.
He is 33 years of age, odds are he is near the end of his career. Surely, he won’t be able to play nearly as much as he has in the past few years. Since the 2013 season he has missed a total of three games between stints with the Bengals, and last season with the Raiders.
Joseph will be in his second year out of West Virginia, showing major potential last year we know he will be one of the mainstays for the future of this defense. Joseph may have only played in 12 games, while starting nine, but he would finish the season with 60 tackles. That number should jump tremendously with him starting every game.
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At 30 years of age, Ward is not the future of the safety position for the Raiders. That distinction belongs to Melifonwu, who the Raiders selected in the second round of the most recent draft. One thing Ward can bring to the team is veteran leadership that knows how to win. In the 2015 season, Ward was a part of the Broncos team that beat the Carolina Panthers to win Super Bowl 50.
Being from Antioch in the East Bay, Ward may be willing to give Oakland a hometown discount in order to return to his old stomping grounds. If he does sign with the Raiders, one thing he will not be doing is giving up winning. Oakland will be one of the best teams in the AFC West for the foreseeable future, maybe he could even win another Super Bowl.
Given that the Raiders have only two serviceable safeties, they will not be throwing Melifonwu out to the wolves to let him get burned every game. Signing Ward could prove to be the one key piece that is missing in this defense that aims to be one of the best in the NFL.
Do you think signing Ward would be the player to put the Raiders over the top in the AFC West? Let us know in the comments below!