The Las Vegas Raiders went hard after a few cornerbacks in free agency, but the only player they ended up with was Eli Apple. Well, it appears they won’t even be signing him, as contract negotiations have fallen apart. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the two sides could not finalize an agreement and he’s heading back into free agency.
The former first-round pick has had a rocky start to his career and this is just the latest snag. Based on the Raiders’ reported interest in Darius Slay and Byron Jones, they clearly didn’t see Apple as a No. 1 cornerback. That said, he was a starter on the stout New Orleans Saints defense, which is noteworthy.
Why exactly the Raiders and Apple couldn’t finalize an agreement is unclear. Perhaps they weren’t completely sold he’d be an asset and they were just signing him because they missed out on some preferred targets. Regardless, Las Vegas’ need at the position just became even bigger.
Top Options Still Available in Free Agency
With Apple no longer coming to town, the Raiders will now have a little bit more cap space to try and find another veteran cornerback. He was slated to get $6 million on a one-year deal and there are many other veterans who would take that deal in a heartbeat. Former New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans cornerback Logan Ryan is probably the biggest name still on the market. The problem is that he reportedly won’t take anything less than $10 million a year. Clearly, nobody wants to give him that as he’s still sitting in free agency. The Raiders giving him the same deal they were going to give Apple could be appealing for him if he goes unsigned for a while longer.
If Ryan is too expensive, Paul Guenther could give a former player of his a call in Dre Kirkpatrick. The former first-round pick for the Cincinnati Bengals was recently released by the team and is very familiar with Guenther’s defense. He shouldn’t cost a lot of money and would be an easy transition for him.
There’s also always the option of bringing back Daryl Worley. He probably isn’t good enough to continue being the team’s number one cornerback, but he could thrive in a depth role. He’d probably come very cheap this late in free agency.
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Need to Draft CB Early Becomes More Pressing
Regardless of how the Raiders decide to address the position in free agency, they’ll need to pick up a cornerback early in the draft. Trayvon Mullen is a good player and should fill-in one of the starting spots, but they need somebody to start opposite him. If the season started today, Nevin Lawson would probably get the job. He’s better suited lower on the depth chart.
Armed with two first-round picks, the Raiders will get a couple of chances to find top talent at the position. Jeff Okudah is the prize at cornerback, but it’s almost impossible he’ll fall to the 12th pick. C.J. Henderson is the second-best option and he should be available when the Raiders pick. If they’re looking for a day one starter, those are the two guys they should be trying to land.