As Las Vegas Raiders training camp ramps up, many eyes will be focused on the defensive backfield. There’s plenty of young potential with the group but not many standout stars. Second-year safety Tre’von Moehrig showed star potential as a rookie and should be the team’s starting free safety for years to come.
Strong safety isn’t as simple. Former first-round pick Johnathan Abram has seen a lot of first-team reps in camp but he’s had well-documented struggles in coverage. As training camp goes on, the Raiders may realize they need to upgrade the position. There aren’t great options left in free agency but there could be trades available. Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report pitched that the Raiders hit up the Minnesota Vikings for a trade for six-time Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith:
Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler spent years with the New England Patriots. The Patriots were never afraid to bring in aging veterans on team-friendly terms to boost the roster. Smith might be exactly what Las Vegas needs: a veteran voice working the back end.
Johnathan Abram isn’t the answer at strong safety since he struggles greatly in pass coverage. Smith could help direct a secondary that features Trayvon Mullen Jr., Rock Ya-Sin, Nate Hobbs and Tre’von Moehrig.
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How Much Would Smith Cost in a Trade?
Smith has been one of the best safeties in the NFL for a long time. He’s made six Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams. However, he’s 33 now and safety is a difficult position to play as you get older. The Vikings have a new head coach and may not see the need for an aging safety.
That said, it’s hard to imagine they’ll get a big return for him. He’s under contract through 2025 and makes $16 million a year. He’ll be 36 when his contract is up. Now, Smith hasn’t shown signs of slowing down as he made the Pro Bowl again last season. He’s still a very good player. If the Raiders traded for him, they’d have to be cautious of how much he has left in the tank. Nothing more than a fourth-round pick should be what the team is willing to pay.
Duron Harmon Only Focused on Winning
If Abram isn’t up to snuff and the Raiders don’t make a trade, Duron Harmon could be the favorite to start at strong safety. He won three Super Bowls with Josh McDaniels and the Patriots so he’s very familiar with the system. He’s not overly concerned with how much he plays as long as he can help the team win.
“The best players are going to play,” Harmon told Raiders.com. “I’m not going to not help them because I’m competing against them, like I want our room to be filled with people who cheer each other on regardless of who is out there because at the end of the day we have a talented room. Young but talented room.
“It’s my job to bring everybody, not just my job it’s the room’s job to elevate the level of play, to compete against each other but at the same time create a true brotherhood where we are competing and rooting for each other at the same time.”