It only took a few hours for the Las Vegas Raiders to figure out how to replace Eli Apple after his deal fell through. With the new found cap space, the team has decided to sign a veteran safety. According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Damarious Randall is heading to Las Vegas on a one-year deal.
Randall came into the NFL as a first-round pick for the Green Bay Packers in 2015. While he was in Green Bay, he started many games as a cornerback and caught 10 interceptions in three seasons. He was eventually traded to the Cleveland Browns in 2018 and transitioned to playing safety. Randall caught four interceptions during his first season with the Browns but didn’t get any in 2019. Injuries are a concern with him as he’s never played a full 16-game season.
Will Randall Start at Safety?
The Raiders bringing in Randall should fill a need for the team. They let Karl Joseph walk in free agency. They did sign Jeff Heath, who started for the Dallas Cowboys, but the team probably isn’t sold on him being the everyday starter.
Randall isn’t going to be a long-term option, but his versatility should be an asset for the Raiders. It remains to be seen if he’ll play primarily cornerback or safety. His best chance to start will be at safety, but his most productive years were when he played cornerback. The most likely option is that the Raiders try to move him around a bit. He’ll have a good shot to start next to Johnathan Abram at safety in 2020, but he’ll share a lot of snaps with Jeff Heath and Erik Harris.
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Drafting a CB Seems Like a Certainty
The Raiders lost a potential starter at cornerback by not signing Eli Apple and added a potential starter at safety. The team had needs at both positions, but it’s clear that cornerback becomes the priority if the plan is to play Randall at safety. With the best cornerbacks already gone in free agency, Las Vegas will need to turn to the draft.
Jeff Okudah and C.J. Henderson appear to be the only guys who could come in and be starters from the onset. The latter should be available when they pick at number 12 while the former will probably be long gone. The Raiders appear to have a lot of faith in second-year player Trayvon Mullen. He shined at times during his rookie season and should be even better with more experience under his belt. They’re also really high on 2019 fourth-round pick Isaiah Johnson, but he didn’t play a lot last season because of an injury he suffered in the preseason.
It’s not ideal for the Raiders to rely on so many young players in the secondary – especially since they play the Kansas City Chiefs twice a season. They swung and missed on Byron Jones in free agency, which would’ve been a huge move. The team will have to do the best they can with what they have. Relying on youth in 2019 paid off at times for the Raiders and they’ll have to hope it works in their favor again in 2020.