Many players from the Jon Gruden era of the Las Vegas Raiders could be in for a rough time in 2022. Outside of players like Darren Waller, Maxx Crosby, Hunter Renfrow and several others, many players that Gruden acquired during his tenure with the team could be without a future in Las Vegas. The players who are most on the hot seat are the trio of 2019 first-round picks.
Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs and Johnathan Abram got hit with some bad news this offseason when general manager Dave Ziegler announced that the Raiders wouldn’t be picking up fifth-year options for any of them. For all three of them, this could be their final year with the team. However, the future isn’t set in stone. Out of the three, Abram is the least likely to return. The safety plays hard and wants to be great but is a liability in coverage and can’t stay healthy.
He’ll need to make major strides in 2022 if he hopes to return to the team for another year. He’s stayed quiet about the contract situation but finally had a chance to address it. He made it clear that he’s trying not to think about it.
“I just show up to work every day,” Abram said when asked about his contract after Wednesday’s practice.
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Abram Talks Patrick Graham
A big thing that could work in Abram’s favor is that the Raiders have a new defensive coordinator in Patrick Graham. The veteran coach is one of the strongest defensive minds in the NFL right now and is known for getting the most out of his players. Last year, Gus Bradley had Abram play as a box safety. That’s not a position that Graham utilizes as much.
It remains to be seen how he’ll use Abram but the safety trusts his new defensive coordinator.
“Honestly he’s the glue,” Abram said. “He’s the guy that brings us all together.”
If Abram can’t show improvement under Graham, it’s unlikely he’ll have a future with the team. There’s no doubt he’ll work hard to improve but the most important thing for him is to simply stay healthy.
How Abram Can Get Another Raiders Contract
While many are ready to say goodbye to Abram once the season ends, it’s premature to suggest he has no chance. He was a first-round pick for a reason. He has the talent and athleticism to be a good player. He just hasn’t figured out how to put it all together.
The biggest thing for Abram is improving in coverage. He’s one of the worst pass defenders in the NFL. That’s bad news for a defensive back. One option is for the Raiders to have him play a hybrid linebacker role. Jabril Peppers is a good player to look at when talking about Abram. The 2017 first-round pick spent the last two seasons player under Graham. While he was listed as a safety, the team had him play a lot of snaps at linebacker. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Graham has a similar plan for Abram. If he can show promise in a hybrid role, the Raiders might want to bring him back on another contract.