The Texans are fortifying their secondary. With the NFL trading deadline approaching, the Raiders have sent CB Gareon Conley to Houston in exchange for a third-round pick, according to multiple reports.
Conley was selected 24th overall by Oakland in the 2017 NFL Draft out of Ohio State. In 23 games played for the Raiders over two-plus seasons, Conley has recorded four interceptions and 45 tackles. He will make an immediate impact on the Texans roster which has had difficulties keeping defensive backs healthy this season.
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said they made the move in order to give playing time to some of the other younger cornerbacks.
“It was a tough decision, obviously, and we certainly wish Gareon the best,” Gruden told ESPN.
The move comes just one day after the Raiders were torched through the air by the Packers and QB Aaron Rodgers, who tossed for 429 yards and five touchdowns in a 42-24 win. Through seven games, the Raiders have the second-worst passing defense in the NFL. Oakland is allowing 289.8 yards per game through the air, only Tampa Bay (304.5) has allowed more.
Meanwhile, Conley will provide an immediate boost to a Texans secondary that is near the bottom of the league and is riddled with injuries.
After giving up 326 yards to Jacoby Brissett in a 30-23 loss to the Colts on Sunday, Houston is ranked 26th passing defense, allowing 275.6 passing yards per game. The Texans played the game without starting cornerbacks Jonathan Joseph (shoulder) and Bradley Robey (hamstring) and reserves Phillip Gaines (ankle) and Keion Crossen (undisclosed).
Conley Still Finding His Form
In just his third year in the league, Gareon Conley is still searching for his stride. The former Buckeye was limited to just two games as a rookie due to injury but has been a starter for Oakland each of the past two seasons. Conley recorded three picks in 2018, one of them was returned for a touchdown.
The 6-foot corner is set to make $833,285 this season, according to Spotrac. He will be owed just under $1.9 million in 2020 before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2021. It is unclear whether or not Houston will resign Conley after next season.
Raiders Continue To Reload
The Conley deal is the third trade for the Raiders since the season began last month as GM Mike Mayock continues to stay active during what is expected to be a long rebuilding process.
On October 8, Oakland acquired WR Zay Jones from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a 2021 draft pick. Also, on September 19, the team traded for WR Trevor Davis, sending an undisclosed 2020 draft pick to the Green Bay Packers.
Raiders’ head coach Jon Gruden believes Conley was expendable because of the young depth Oakland has in the secondary.
“We do have some young corners that we drafted,” Gruden told ESPN. “Trayvon Mullen, we have Isaiah Johnson coming back soon, Keisean Nixon, Nevin Lawson is coming back. We want to look at some younger players.”
The trade for Jones also caused a stir throughout the league. The former second-round pick said he was “shocked’ that Buffalo shipped him out west.
“I felt like I had a good amount of production in my second season,” Jones told the SF Chronicle after the trade. “Stepping into the third season, obviously I was hoping and planning for more. It wasn’t trending in that direction in the beginning. I was just trying to stay as patient as possible and really trust in that process.”
Texans Fortify Their Secondary
Houston is desperate for help in the defensive backfield. The injury-riddled Texans secondary struggled to defend the Colts’ pass catchers on Sunday as Jacoby Brissett threw for 326 yards and a career-high four touchdowns.
Starters Jonathan Joseph and Bradley Robey both did not play due to injuries. The depth was tested even further on Sunday as reserves Phillip Gaines and Keion Crossen were also sidelined. Houston took the field with just two healthy corners, both rookies, Lonnie Johnson Jr. and Xavier Crawford.
“For me, it was a next-man-up mentality,” Crawford told reporters after the game. “It’s the NFL, so you can’t be surprised by things that happen. It’s a fast, violent game, so people can get hurt at any time. For me, it’s a matter of staying ready.”
If Joseph and Robey can’t get healthy fast, it is presumed that Conley will slide into a starting role once he gets up to speed with Houston’s defensive playbook.
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith