Much has been made about who the Las Vegas Raiders should pick up in free agency, but the team also has a lot of 2019 starters about to hit the market on the defensive side of the ball. Considering how bad the Raiders’ defense was last season, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team let a lot of them walk. However, there are a number of players who could still help the squad.
Las Vegas has already extended some of the players they would like to stick around. With free agency about to close in, it seems unlikely the team plans to extend any more of their defensive free agents and will let them test the market. Below we’re going to go through the most notable Raider defenders who are currently without a contract.
Daryl Worley & Karl Joseph
Safety Karl Joseph has had an up and down career at this point. He came into the league as a high first-round pick but has been hampered by injuries a lot of the time. Joseph looked like he was coming into his own this season and looked like he was playing his way to a potential extension. Unfortunately, his most memorable play of the season, a game-winning interception against the Los Angeles Chargers, ended with him suffering a season-ending injury. At the NFL Combine, head coach Jon Gruden let it be known that the team is going to let Joseph hit the market.
“It’s a process,” Gruden said. “We have to see where the market is and weigh all the options. He is weighing them, we’re weighing them. It’s a tough part about this business, no doubt. He is a good young player. He is a hitter that made an impact for us this year. He really improved in Year 2 of our system.”
Joseph has said that he would like to return to the Raiders in the past, but he could get a better offer elsewhere. Another starting defensive back will reportedly be joining Joseph in free agency, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic:
Gruden said the Raiders are going to let safety Karl Joseph test the free-agent market, and the same is true, I have been told, of cornerback Daryl Worley. They liked him fine, but he is not what they are thinking about when they talk about a No. 1 cornerback.
Gruden has praised Worley in the past and he played well at time during the season. However, he started most of the games for the Raiders in 2019 and they struggled greatly in pass defense. Worley has to take some of the blame for that and it could lead to the team letting him walk.
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Will Compton & Vontaze Burfict
If there’s any position group that should feel uneasy this offseason, it’s the linebackers. There are already rumblings that the Raiders are planning on moving on from Tahir Whitehead. He currently is still under contract and a move there remains to be seen, but it’s sounding like Vontaze Burfict’s days with the team are numbered, per Tafur:
The Raiders love Burfict. The coaching staff thought that he was very good not only on the field, but in the locker room and on the practice field, helping young players learn old friend Guenther’s defense. And Mayock and Jon Gruden have a huge hole at linebacker.
But unless something goes really wrong in free agency and the draft, it just won’t be worth it. The Raiders would need the league to tell them that it is going to ease up on Burfict a little bit, and that his first questionable hit won’t result in him being put back on the shelf.
Burfict was only brought in on a one-year deal last year and it’s doubtful the Raiders will re-sign him thanks to the fact that there are too many unknowns with him. The same goes for Will Compton, who the team brought in during the season. He revealed on Twitter that he is set to hit free agency.
Compton was a pleasant surprise for the Raiders in 2019 and would be a solid depth pick up if he’s still available later in free agency.
Other Who Are Likely to Hit Free Agency
Benson Mayowa is probably the biggest name that there hasn’t been any news about. For most of the season, Mayowa led the team in sacks and was aiming for an extension. The Raiders did not oblige and for some reason, he didn’t always get a lot of playing time. Considering he had his best season under Brenston Buckner, it wouldn’t be surprising if he made his way back to the Arizona Cardinals to reunite with his coach.
The only other notable name is Josh Mauro, who started several games for the team. He impressed with his run defense and that could be enough to get him another contract with the team. He’ll probably have to wait until later in free agency though.