Based on how the Las Vegas Raiders attacked this past offseason, it’s clear they wanted to revamp their secondary. They made almost no effort to bring back starting cornerback Daryl Worley and Karl Joseph signed with the Cleveland Browns when it was apparent the team wasn’t going to re-sign him. Another player who saw time as a starter was safety Curtis Riley. He’s been sitting in free agency for several months now, but it appears he finally has a new home.
According to Ian Rapoport, Riley is heading to Pittsburgh to play for the Steelers.
His most notable season came in 2018 when he started 16 games with the New York Giants and had four interceptions. He wasn’t nearly as effective in his lone year as a Raider. He started three games and didn’t pick the ball off once. Riley now heads east and he will be playing in a very solid defense.
Mike Mayock ‘Anxious’ to See Secondary
The Raiders found a number of players who could replace Riley in free agency. They signed two safeties in Damarious Randall and Jeff Heath. The team will also get Johnathan Abram back from injury. After a bad year on defense, Mike Mayock is eager to see what his revamped secondary can do.
“I am most anxious to see the secondary. … We’ve got some good young talent and I am anxious to see who competes,” Mayock said, per Vic Tafur of The Athletic. “It’s awesome to have [Prince] Amukamara because he brings a veteran presence, but we have a bunch of really young corners and safeties that we think have some talent.”
Randall and Heath aren’t Pro Bowl level players, but they are solid veterans with good track records. The Raiders expect big things from Abram. If the veterans do what they’re supposed to do, safety shouldn’t be an issue for the defense.
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Raiders Relying on Youth at Cornerback
While safety appears to be shaping up nicely, cornerback is still an area to watch. As of now, it looks like there’s a real shot Trayvon Mullen and Damon Arnette could be the starters. The two men have a combined one year of NFL experience. The Amukamara addition could be very helpful at the start of the season. He’s one of the more underrated cornerbacks in the NFL.
The Raiders have the chance to be either great or terrible at cornerback. Mullen looked like he had really good potential last year but it’ll still take some time to know exactly what the team has in him. Arnette was really good in college but the lack of offseason workouts could slow his development. Also, don’t forget about Amik Robertson who could end up being the star of the group. There’s certainly massive potential with the Raiders’ cornerbacks but they also play in a division with elite wide receiver talent. There are going to be growing pains, it’s just a matter of how the young players adapt and learn from bad performances.