The Las Vegas Raiders have taken things slow to start free agency. Players linked to the team like wide receiver D.J. Chark and cornerback J.C. Jackson have signed with other teams as the Raiders take a more conservative approach. Luckily, there’s still plenty of time for the team to make moves.
After doing nothing on the opening day of free agency, the Raiders have finally made a move. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the team has signed cornerback Darius Phillips to a one-year, $2.25 million deal.
Phillips came into the NFL as a fifth-round in 2018 of the Cincinnati Bengals. He’s mostly a kick/punt return specialist but has played plenty of snaps on defense. He started eight games for the Bengals at cornerback in 2020. Injuries have been an issue for Phillips as he hasn’t played more than 12 games in a season since his rookie year. He can play on the outside and in the slot so he’ll provide some versatile veteran depth. He had four interceptions in just 12 games in 2019 so he’s capable of making plays in the right setting.
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Cornerback Still a Need for Raiders
With big-name cornerbacks like Jackson, Carlton Davis and Charvarius Ward all landing contracts already, the market is getting thin for the Raiders. The AFC West is loaded with elite quarterbacks and pass-catchers so the need for a great cornerback is huge. Las Vegas still has options but they need to strike quickly.
If not, expect the team to pursue one in the draft or on the trade market. The Raiders have to try something or the defense is going to get eaten alive in the AFC West. There’s plenty of time to add a difference-maker or two in the secondary so it’s not time to panic quite yet.
Raiders Create More Cap Space
Many Raider fans are already in a frenzy as the team takes things slowly. Every team in the AFC West has made big moves this offseason and Las Vegas could be falling behind. However, it’s still possible they’re gearing up for big moves. The team still should have over $30 million in salary-cap space, which gives them money to sign a big name, and they’ve created more.
According to Paul Gutierrez and Field Yates of ESPN, the Raiders have re-worked center Andre James’ contract and now he has a cap hit of $1.58 million for 2022.
There’s been talk of center possibly being a need for the Raiders but this likely means the team is going to run it back with James. He had a rough start after taking over the center job but picked things up in the second half of the season. He deserves another shot and isn’t overly expensive. The Raiders have bigger needs across the offensive line so they should focus on those before trying to make a change at center. Considering the team is still creating cap space, expect the moves to start pouring in at some point this week.