Free agency is coming up for the Las Vegas Raiders and there is no shortage of needs, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerbacks Rock Ya-Sin and Anthony Averett will be free agents and could move on to other teams. Nate Hobbs and Amik Robertson are under contract next season but the team would be wise to add more talent to the secondary.
According to Spotrac, the Raiders will have $46.3 million in salary cap space in free agency, which is the fourth-most in the NFL. A large chunk of that could go to whoever replaces Derek Carr at quarterback but they’ll still have plenty of money to address other needs. There are some good cornerback options who are available to the Raiders this offseason but they could try to bet on a young player with upside coming off of a down season. Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report believes that the Raiders should try to sign Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy in free agency.
Still, young cornerbacks are valuable, and Murphy has shown a high level of play previously. He started 16 games in 2021, logged four interceptions and allowed an OPR of just 87.6. Murphy will be targeted as a starter in free agency.
The Las Vegas Raiders should be among the teams doing so. Las Vegas was atrocious against the pass in 2022, finishing 29th in yards allowed and 28th in yards per attempt surrendered (6.7).
Background on Murphy
Murphy came into the NFL 2019 as a second-round pick of the Cardinals. He’s started 48 games over the past four seasons with the team. His best year came in 2021 when he caught four interceptions and made 64 combined tackles.
Murphy was last successful in 2022 as he only played in nine games due to injury. He had no interceptions and finished ranked as Pro Football Focus‘ 46th-best cornerback in the league last season. While he didn’t have the best 2022 campaign, he still has upside. He could be a cheap option for the Raiders if they don’t want to spend big on a cornerback. He needs some work but the risk could be worth the reward.
Should Raiders Retain Ya-Sin or Averett?
The Raiders’ defense didn’t work last season, especially against the pass. The 242.9 passing yards a game they allowed last season was the fourth-most in the NFL. Nobody would blame the team if they completely overhauled their secondary. That said, Ya-Sin showed promise. He was the team’s highest-graded cornerback last season, per PFF. The Raiders also gave up a Pro Bowl pass rusher in Yannick Ngakoue to land him in a trade. There are certainly worst cornerbacks out there and Ya-Sin was not the main reason the passing defense was so bad. The Raiders will likely at least try to bring him back.
Averett, on the other hand, will almost certainly be seeking new employment this offseason. He missed 10 games with injuries last season and didn’t play well when he was on the field. The Raiders were hoping he’d be a dependable starter but he wasn’t a great fit. There’s no reason for either side to want to run it back. Averett would be better off going to a new team.