As free agency nears, there are more and more players who are hitting the market who could interest the Las Vegas Raiders. One of the most recent players to get released by there team was Baltimore Ravens safety Tony Jefferson. He had started every game he played since he joined the Ravens, but an injury derailed his 2019 campaign. He was set to have a big cap hit in 2020, so Baltimore cut him loose.
The Raiders didn’t get great secondary play in 2019 and they could be looking to upgrade heading into their first season in Las Vegas. Ted Nguyen, an NFL analyst for The Athletic, believes that Jefferson could do well with the Raiders.
Jefferson is still young and will likely come cheap after getting cut by the Ravens. Pairing him up with Johnathan Abram could be very appealing to defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Jefferson has been a consistent starter on a very solid defense, so he could be a strong asset for the silver and black. However, he’s not a perfect candidate.
Jefferson’s Health Could Be a Concern
Though Jefferson could come in and be a starter for the Raiders at safety, there are injury concerns surrounding him. He tore his ACL early in the season and an injury of that magnitude isn’t easy to come back from. According to Vincent Bonsignore, who covers the Raiders for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, teams may take their time in evaluating Jefferson.
It sounds like the Raiders could have some interest in the veteran safety, but health is a concern. A torn ACL is one of the more brutal injuries an athlete can sustain. Fortunately for Jefferson, he is still young and doesn’t have a significant injury history before this last season. If Las Vegas thinks that he’s healthy enough to start in 2020, expect them to make some sort of run at him.
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Will the Raiders Move on From Karl Joseph?
Johnathan Abram pretty much has one of the starting safety spots locked down once he gets fully healthy. The other spot could be up for grabs if the team moves on from Karl Joseph. Joseph was playing really well for the Raiders in 2019 before he suffered a season-ending injury. Jon Gruden likes Joseph, but there’s a pretty extensive injury history there at this point. That said, he could probably still get a starting job wherever he lands.
It’s unlikely that he re-signs with the Raiders to be Tony Jefferson’s backup. Joseph made it clear that he would like to stay with the team, but it may not be up to him. Thanks to injury, the Raiders could also pass on Jefferson. Between, Abram, Joseph and Jefferson, they missed a combined 29 games in 2019. Injuries to starters can certainly derail a season as was the case this past season. The Raiders could look to investing in some sturdier options heading into 2020. However, both Joseph and Jefferson carry very strong upside, so it depends on what the team values more.