The Las Vegas Raiders signed Casey Hayward to bring leadership to the secondary, and he is going to have a solid impact on the young defensive backfield.
The Las Vegas Raiders made many moves this offseason, adding some pass-rushing pressure in the form of Pro Bowl defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, and they also loaded up on four secondary players in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Raiders defense will surely look completely different heading into the new season.
With so many moves made, there may be one that stands above the rest, and although he is a former Pro Bowler himself, it is not based solely on his play, but more on his experience and leadership. The man behind the mask is cornerback Casey Hayward.
The 31-year-old former Los Angeles Chargers standout may not be at his peak, but he is still more than serviceable and will look to not only bring his veteran savvy to a young secondary, but also provide them with the leadership and knowledge to finally be up to par, and compete in the quarterback dominant AFC West.
The nine-year vet was recently cut by the Chargers after a four-year stay, and two of those years were All-Pro seasons. Age and injury may have slowed him down a bit, but he should be on course for a renaissance type of season, particularly, because he will be coached by his former defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who also is coming over from the Los Angeles Chargers himself.
The Raiders have one of the youngest secondaries in the NFL, and while they did add former safety Karl Joseph to compete and play meaningful snaps, the future of this franchise belongs in the “hopefully” capable hands of cornerbacks Trayvon Mullen, Damon Arnette, and safeties Trevon Moehrig and Johnathan Abram. With all of these talented secondary players below the age of 25, the Raiders could be in for a promising future.
The chatter around Hayward bringing in his experience and leadership is not just the opinion of our team here, but Raiders general manager Mike Mayock was quoted as saying “Kids in the room are going to look up to him”, and Abram himself was quoted as saying “Getting a chance to know him, be around him, he’s a guy who’s been in the system, going on six years. Just seeing the number of things he saw. The starts that he got in this system. He pretty much knows it all.”
Key words coming from such key figures in the organization.
Many things can be said about Hayward, and the opinions have been divided on the signing. A 31-year-old coming off a recent hamstring injury can be seen as a player in decline, or with his knowledge, ability, and familiarity with Gus Bradley’s system, he can be seen as a revelation for this young core of players.
Either way, Hayward’s voice will be heard within this secondary.
Now, this begs the question, have the Raiders picked up aging damaged goods, or has the franchise struck gold on a player with plenty still left in the tank? Although many had called for Richard Sherman to be that veteran presence at cornerback this season, with Hayward, you are receiving not only that veteran voice this secondary so desperately needs, but you’re getting a player that knows this system to a T.
The Las Vegas Raiders will battle it out in the AFC West this season, and here are three newcomers they should be worried about.
Even if he may have slowed down a tad bit, this secondary should thrive with his ability to teach and lead by example.