How free agency impacts each Las Vegas Raiders position group
By Matt Holder
There are reports that the Raiders made a massive offer to Byron Jones, but he opted to sign with Miami on a five-year $82.5 million deal. Only time will tell if he’s worth the money, but Las Vegas did walk away from Free Agency with a much more cost-effective consolation prize in Eli Apple.
After spending the first four years of his career with the Giants and Saints, Apple joins the Silver and Black on a “prove it” one-year $6 million contract. While his time in New Orleans was certainly better than it was in New York, the Ohio State product won’t or shouldn’t be the last cornerback added to the roster. Addressing the position with one of the team’s first two picks is still an option, and said player will enter training camp in a battle with Apple and Isaiah Johnson for the team’s number two spot on the other side of Trayvon Mullen.
Another inexpensive transaction Las Vegas made was acquiring former Cowboys’ safety Jeff Heath on a two-year contract that’s worth up to $8 million with incentives. This move adds value to the team in a couple of areas, on special teams and it increases the depth at safety.
Heath was a significant contributor on special teams in Dallas and he reunites with his former coach, Rich Bisaccia. The seven-year pro famously stepped up as an emergency kicker in 2017 and has been effective in kick coverage as well. He’s a coach’s dream as he’s not afraid to do the dirty work and can rise to the occasion when the team needs him most.
As far as a defensive position goes, it’s unlikely that Heath will walk in on day one as a starter over Johnathan Abram or Erik Harris, but the former Cowboy can certainly be in the rotation as the third safety. If the organization does decide to add another defensive back through the draft, he may end up on the chopping block, but he at least keeps the position from being a dire need.