The Las Vegas Raiders head into the offseason with a clear goal: Fix the defense.
Jon Gruden and Derek Carr proved that they could run a very solid offense that should only get better as some of the young pieces develop. There aren’t any glaring weaknesses on the offense. The Raiders need to invest heavily in adding defensive talent at all levels.
Perhaps the biggest issue with the defense is the secondary. The group of cornerbacks and safeties is littered with potential but they need to add a proven veteran. Harrison Smith of the Minnesota Vikings could be available in a trade and Joe Tansey of Bleacher Report believes the Raiders could make a deal:
Minnesota’s Harrison Smith is one of the more expensive options the Raiders could trade for, but he may be the secondary presence they need to keep up with the loaded offenses in the AFC.
Smith was mentioned as a possible trade candidate in Minnesota before the 2020 season’s trade deadline as the team was looking to move salary amid a disappointing start to the season, per CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.
Smith is a five-time Pro Bowler and while he does carry a hefty price tag, he’s exactly what the Raiders need. They are stuck with Johnathan Abram for now due to his status as a first-round pick but Erik Harris isn’t an answer. The Raiders need to find another starting safety and Smith might be the best option who could be available.
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Kenny Vaccaro a Potential Trade Fit?
An obstacle that faces the Raiders this offseason is that they don’t have a ton of cap space. There are moves they can make to free up some money but they probably won’t be big spenders this offseason. If the Raiders are looking for somebody cheaper than Smith, Tansey believes they could trade for Tennessee Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro:
The extra season of control may intrigue the Raiders to make a push for Vaccaro over a rental like Smith.
In his last two seasons in Tennessee, Vaccaro has been a more active tackler than he was with New Orleans. He had 84 tackles in 2019 and 83 in 2020 compared to 60 and 68 in his last two seasons in New Orleans. He only has a single interception in the last two years, though, so Tennessee may be a willing trade partner.
Vaccaro is a former first-round pick who has started a lot of games. He’s not a game-changer but he’s a solid player who would be an upgrade over Harris. Plus, he wouldn’t cost a lot in a trade.
Raiders Can’t Give up on Abram Quite Yet
Adding a veteran safety who has played at a high level might be even more important for the Raiders as they need somebody to help guide Johnathan Abram. There was so much hype surrounding the former first-round pick and while he made some flashy hits this past season, the fan base has soured on him due to some really bad plays in coverage.
Abram is eager to learn and plays very hard. He can still be a great player but he’s got a ton of work to do.