The Las Vegas Raiders will need to take a long look at the cornerback slot this offseason. Soon-to-be Baltimore Ravens free agent Anthony Averett could help.
Most Raiders fans get triggered by the notion of their team drafting a cornerback this year, much less spending big money on a free agent at that position. However, there are several questions surrounding it that should lead us to believe that a move must be made, preferably through free agency. Casey Hayward could end up following Gus Bradley to Indianapolis, and defensive backs coach Ron Milus could also be out.
Damon Arnette was let go during the season last year and is now unequivocally a bust, a lasting reminder of the failed Mike Mayock era. As far as Averett goes, don’t let the hair fool you; he’s no Arnette retread. You won’t confuse him with a prototypical number one shutdown corner, but he’d be a solid addition.
Raider Nation would like to see Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler make a run at JC Jackson. Unfortunately, that might not be as feasible as it seems. It’d be shocking to see Bill Belichick part ways with his top cornerback.
What would the Raiders get with Averett?
Averett started 14 games for the Ravens in 2021 and had a decent stat line. He amassed 54 tackles, three interceptions, and 11 pass deflections. Pro Football Focus graded his coverage at 55.0 for last season and it was 60.6 the previous year.
Originally a fourth-round selection out of Alabama, Averett is only 28 years old, so a three-year deal could secure his services as he enters the final stretch of what you would call the prime of his football career. As a side note, for those of you who may have forgotten, Averett ran a 4.36 in his 40-yard dash at the combine just a few years ago.
In other words, Averett has speed, and that’s something the Raiders will need if Hayward’s gone, and let’s not overlook Trayvon Mullen. The once-promising cornerback was unable to stay healthy last season. Should the team be concerned with his health moving into next season?
Optimally, you’d want the Raiders to retain Hayward at all costs, given what he accomplished last year. If you have a healthy Mullen and a returning Hayward, and you pick up Averett to go along with rookie nickel sensation Nate Hobbs guarding the slot, the Raiders have a solid cornerback group. Also, by accomplishing this, you don’t necessarily have to break the bank on the position. In addition, this would allow the Silver and Black to draft a run-stuffing defensive tackle and replenish the linebacker corps through the draft, considering that Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski are dead weight at this point, unfortunately.