Three weeks into the NFL season and it’s becoming clear that the Las Vegas Raiders have major problems on defense. There have been times when the unit has put together some good stops but opposing running backs are just eating the team alive right now.
Johnathan Abram has made some plays but he had his worst game as a professional against the New England Patriots. There were at least three plays where an oncoming runner completely burned him. Couple that with the fact that Erik Harris hasn’t been good all year, and the Raiders have serious problems in their defensive backfield, particularly at safety. Luckily for them, there is some serious talent at safety that happens to be available.
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Earl Thomas a Potential Fit?
If the Raiders are desperate enough, they could give a call to seven-time Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas. He’s coming off of a disappointing, short tenure with the Baltimore Ravens. He was causing issues so they cut him loose. No team has decided to bring him in but Chris Roling of Bleacher Report named the Raiders as a potential suitor for Thomas:
But from an on-field standpoint, Thomas has plenty to offer. He’s still just 31 years old and appeared in 15 games last year, rebounding from his injury-shortened 2018 with 49 total tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and four passes defensed.
The Raiders went down this road with Antonio Brown last year. It’s always risky to sign a player that causes issues in the locker room. Perhaps he’s been humbled by what happened in Baltimore. He expressed remorse after the incident that got him cut. If he’d come in on an incentivized contract, it could be worth the Raiders while. Abram has a lot of potential but he’s clearly got work to do. Harris is a team captain and a great leader for the defense but he just isn’t making a positive impact. Lining Thomas up next to Abram could greatly improve the defense. It would be a risky play but could help give the team a boost.
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Thomas Not the Only Option
If the Raiders decide that Thomas is too volatile, there are other strong options at safety available. HaHa Clinton-Dix is another former Pro Bowler and was surprisingly cut by the Dallas Cowboys before the season. Roling also believes the Raiders would be a fit for him:
While things have been quiet for him since, the 27-year-old safety tallied 78 total tackles, two interceptions and five passes defended in 16 games with the Chicago Bears last year for a PFF grade of 74.2.
That’s starter material from the 2014 first-round pick, so the aforementioned teams dealing with injury, if not contenders, might make the most sense for Clinton-Dix.
Clinton-Dix isn’t elite but he doesn’t have the character concerns that Thomas does. He’d more than likely be an upgrade over Harris. The second coming of Charles Woodson isn’t going to come walking in but the Raiders are going to have to figure out this issue. They can’t just let offenses run all over them. At a certain point, changes will need to be made.