Now that Josh McDaniels has mostly filled out his new coaching staff with the Las Vegas Raiders, it’s time to put the focus on the roster. With the NFL Combine and free agency coming in March, the coach is about to have a lot on his plate. The Raiders had a roster that was good enough to get to the playoffs last season but some important pieces need to be added before they can even think about competing for a Super Bowl.
A major position of need will be cornerback. Casey Hayward was the best cornerback the Raiders had last season but he’s a free agent and might leave elsewhere. Las Vegas could be big spenders on a cornerback once free agency starts up. In the meantime, the team is starting to make some moves on players who are currently in free agency. The Raiders announced that they’ve signed veteran defensive back Cre’von LeBlanc.
This is the first roster move that the Raiders have made since McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler took over.
ALL the latest Raiders news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on Raiders newsletter here!
LeBlanc Has Bounced Around the NFL
It should come as no surprise but the first player that McDaniels and Ziegler have signed has ties to the New England Patriots. He got his start in the NFL as an undrafted member of the Patriots in 2016. He didn’t end up making the team as a rookie and eventually signed with the Chicago Bears. He started 10 games in two seasons with the team and caught two interceptions.
He eventually landed with the Philadelphia Eagles where he spent three seasons. He made his way back to the Patriots in 2021 as a brief member of the practice squad just before the season ended. New Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham spent a long time in New England so LeBlanc should be familiar with the type of defense he’s going to run. It’s early in the offseason but his familiarity will give him a shot to make the regular season roster.
Raiders Could Look to Other CBs With Patriots Ties
McDaniels has proven early on that he isn’t afraid to take advantage of his ties to the Patriots. The Raiders coaching staff is littered with former assistants in New England. It’s safe to assume that a number of players the team targets this offseason will also have Patriots ties. That could benefit the Raiders.
One of the best free agents who should be on Las Vegas’ wish list is J.C. Jackson. The Patriots cornerback was named Second-Team All-Pro last season and leads the NFL with 17 combined interceptions over the last two seasons. He’s due for a big payday in free agency and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Raiders gave it to him.
Former Patriots Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore is also going to be a free agent. He’s older at 31-years-old but he should be less expensive than Jackson and can still make a difference on defense.
READ NEXT: Mark Davis Won’t Go Over Number in Derek Carr Extension: ‘Buckle Up’