Raiders Surprise by Releasing Expected Starter at Safety: Report

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Getty Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden.

The Las Vegas Raiders have already given is one big surprise recently when they decided to cut veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara. That looked like it would be the big surprise of the roster cut season but the team decided to follow it up with an even more surprising move. According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the Raiders have released safety Damarious Randall.

The move comes as a pretty big surprise as the assumption has been that they brought Randall in to start. The fact they’re going to owe him some guaranteed money makes the move more surprising. He had stricken up a friendship with fellow safety Johnathan Abram and it looked like those two would be a duo for the season. For whatever reason, the Raiders changed their mind on him and he’s no longer in the team’s plans. According to a couple of Raiders insiders, Randall wasn’t a good fit and wasn’t playing with the first team so this move probably isn’t that surprising for some.

The former first-round pick hasn’t lived up to his draft status and is struggling to find a long-term home. He has a lot of talent and versatility so he’ll land on his feet somewhere.

What This Means for Raiders Safeties

With Randall gone, that paves the way for either Erik Harris or Jeff Heath to hold onto one of the starting spots. Former first-round pick Johnathan Abram has one of the spots locked down. Heath got a lot of starting experience on a solid defense in Dallas and is probably the logical pick to have start.

That said, Harris is very familiar with this defense and has become a leader for the young team. The most likely outcome is that both players share a lot of time on the field. It’s difficult to tell right now if either man has the edge. Nickel cornerback LaMarcus Joyner has safety experience but he’s not going to slide over right now. The Raiders want him to cover slot and that’s what he’s going to do.

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Will Raiders Try to Add Another Safety?

The Raiders have plenty of capable players available to play safety on the roster but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t look for some outside help. Earl Thomas is the most obvious name in free agency. The superstar safety got cut by the Baltimore Ravens for problems he was causing in camp. It was reported back in 2018 that he wanted the Raiders to come and get him, but the team isn’t about to sign the defensive version of Antonio Brown.

Tony Jefferson would be an interesting fit. He got hurt last year but should be healthy now. He’s defended Derek Carr in the past so he’d probably fit right in. There’s also the recently released HaHa Clinton-Dix. He’s a solid player and could be a good depth option. However, it seems like the Raiders are going to roll with Heath and Harris. The reports are that they looked good in training camp and the team obviously like them.

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