Free agency is underway in the NFL the Las Vegas Raiders haven’t gotten off to much of a start. Cornerback is one of the team’s biggest needs. Russell Wilson was recently traded to the Denver Broncos so the AFC West is now loaded with elite quarterback talent. It’s going to be difficult to win a lot of games without a top-tier pass defense.
Due to the big moves within the division, it was expected the Raiders would make a run at former New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson. The All-Pro was the prize of free agency and Las Vegas was a logical landing spot considering his familiarity with new head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler. Well, Jackson won’t be reuniting with the former Patriots. According to Adam Schefter, the cornerback is signing a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Similar to the Raiders, the Chargers also reside in the AFC West and have to deal with three Pro Bowl quarterbacks twice a year each. Luckily for them, they have a quarterback on a rookie contract so they can afford to make big splashes in free agency.
ALL the latest Raiders news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on Raiders newsletter here!
Not Time to Panic yet for Raiders
Many fans were banking on Jackson being the Raiders’ big offseason move. The team really needs another starting cornerback and he was the best on the market. Not only did Las Vegas not get him, but he now goes to an AFC West rival. So it’s time for Raiders fans to panic, right? Wrong.
It’s important to keep in mind that Ziegler and McDaniels have intimate knowledge about Jackson. They saw him at practice every day and watched him play every week. If he was worth $20 million a year, the Raiders would’ve given it to him. The fact that he’s only getting $16.5 million a year makes it even more suspicious Las Vegas didn’t sign him. Jackson is a great player and an interception machine but there was a reason he was in free agency. Perhaps Ziegler and McDaniels didn’t think he was worth elite cornerback money.
Raiders Still Need a Cornerback
Even if the Raiders didn’t think Jackson was worth big money, that doesn’t change the fact that they desperately need a cornerback. Casey Hayward is a free agent and it’s unlikely he returns to the team after being their best cornerback last season. As noted earlier, the AFC West is loaded at quarterback. Even having elite cornerbacks wouldn’t be enough to fully slow down the teams in the division. Trayvon Mullen still has potential but hasn’t proven to be a No. 1 cornerback.
Nate Hobbs can be a great nickel cornerback but is still young. The Raiders need to find a true No. 1 cornerback. Options are limited now that Jackson is off the market. Perhaps the team looks to the draft or the trade market to make a move. It’s certainly a situation to watch.