Las Vegas Raiders improve the defense but holes remain

The Las Vegas Raiders have signed several players to vastly improve the defense but there are still holes that need to be filled.

March 17 was the busiest day of the Las Vegas Raiders offseason so far as the Silver and Black retooled and reloaded the defense with several key signings. As of the end of day Tuesday, the Raiders had signed two linebackers in Nick Kwiatkoski And Cory Littleton, two defensive linemen in Maliek Collins and Carl Nassib, and a safety in Jeff Heath.

Of the five signings, Kwiatkoski, Littleton, and Collins all project to be starters though both Nassib and Heath have started their fair share of games over their careers. They are also massive upgrades over their predecessors in the 2019 version of the Raiders defense, particularly at the linebacker position.

Though the progress is remarkable in the early days of free agency there are still some holes that need to be filled, primarily in the defensive backfield and at depth on the defensive line. As of today the only starting caliber cornerback on the roster is second year player Trayvon Mullen.

The Raiders made a serious run at former Dallas Cowboy Byron Jones but the Miami Dolphins won the bidding war for perhaps the best DB that was on the market. There are still some big fish available but with the amount of cash paid out to the five aforementioned free agents, selecting a corner in the early rounds may be the more prudent choice.

As for the safety position, the Jeff Heath signing likely spells the end of the Karl Joseph era with the Raiders and it is not certain that Heath is much of an upgrade over Erik Harris. Heath can provide excellent depth and has a great track record on special teams but he is just not a starting caliber player and the figure he signed at, two years and $8 million, suggests the Raiders staff feels the same way.

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The bright side to all this of course is that there is still plenty of time left in free agency to bring in more talent and filling the holes via the draft is a viable option as well. There will be a lot of turnover between today and start of the 2020 season but one thing is for sure, the Raiders defense will be a much improved unit in 2020.