The Las Vegas Raiders can try to make all the coaching changes they want but their defense isn’t going to magically get better unless they start adding talent. It looked like they landed some good players last offseason but players like Carl Nassib, Maliek Collins and Cory Littleton have been wildly disappointing. This offseason, the Raiders need to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to fix their defense.
One way to do that is to get rid of bloated contracts from Marcus Mariota and Tyrell Williams and use all the money to land strong defensive players. According to Joe Tansey of Bleacher Report, the Raiders should target Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons:
Denver’s Justin Simmons will be one of the top defensive backs on the market along with Anthony Harris and Marcus Williams.
To move up the AFC West standings, the Raiders need to make defensive back improvements to deal with Kansas City’s speed and depth and Denver’s growing group of young weapons.
Simmons’ 67 tackles in 2020 already eclipsed the 65 he wracked up in 2019. He has three consecutive seasons with 65 tackles and four interceptions for the second straight year.
The Raiders actually reportedly had an interest in Simmons last offseason before he was hit with the franchise tag. It remains to be seen if he’ll reach a long-term deal with Denver but if he doesn’t, Las Vegas should pounce. He was second-team All-Pro last season and is having another strong year. Johnathan Abram deserves more time to figure things out but the Raiders need two good safeties. Abram with Simmons could end up being a dynamic duo for the silver and black.
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Leonard Williams a Good Fit?
During last year’s trade deadline, there was speculation that the Raiders could be interested in a trade for Leonard Williams. It’s looking very bad in hindsight that they didn’t pull off a move. Williams’ 8.5 sacks this season should earn him a Pro Bowl nod and would easily be the best on the Raiders. Tansey thinks he’s another guy the team should target:
To contend for the postseason on a consistent basis, Las Vegas needs to be better in all facets of the defense.
Adding a run-plugger like Williams would go a long way in establishing the tone on the interior in matchups that may have been difficult to handle in 2020.
Williams is what the Raiders were hoping Collins would be this season. He grew up a fan of the team and was hoping to get drafted by them back in 2015. That’ll give the silver and black an edge in free agency if they’re willing to pay him. Based on this season, they should be willing to hand him a big contract.
Raiders Need to Spend Big on Defense
The Raiders are among the biggest spenders in the NFL when it comes to the offense but among the league’s cheapest when it comes to defense. Those facts have been showing on the field as the offense has been good while the defense has looked dreadful.
The Raiders have committed a number of high draft picks on defensive players but the early returns on those guys haven’t looked great. The offense is ready to compete with the best teams in the NFL. If the Raiders hope to become Super Bowl contenders, this offseason needs to be all about defense. Finding an elite pass rusher, a safety and another linebacker is paramount for this team.