The Las Vegas Raiders have done a lot to improve their roster this offseason but many are still not convinced they’ve done enough to field a winning team. The offense has been solid over the years and should be solid again in 2021. However, there are still questions surrounding the defense and if the unit will improve.
The team allowed 29.9 points a game last season, which was good for 30th in the NFL. Former defensive coordinator Paul Guenther was fired during the season and has been replaced by Gus Bradley. The Raiders also signed former Pro Bowlers Casey Hayward, Yannick Ngakoue and Gerald McCoy this offseason. Things are looking up for the defense but it’s still not an elite unit.
If Las Vegas hopes to contend for a Super Bowl this year, Chris Roling of Bleacher Report believes they need to swing a trade for a former Defensive Player of the Year:
Luckily for the Raiders, Stephon Gilmore of the New England Patriots has been a staple of trade speculation since last year’s deadline. He enters 2021 on the final year of his deal and skipped mandatory camps in June.
Acquiring Gilmore wouldn’t come cheap (perhaps in the second-round range), but he could boost a weak unit on a team that has potential to make a run if it gets hot at the right time.
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What Would Raiders Give up for Gilmore?
Roling mentioned that the price for Gilmore could be a second-round pick. That seems a little steep for a 30-year-old cornerback entering a contract year who had a down season and is hurt right now. Perhaps more so than any other position, cornerbacks have a really hard time staying elite when they reach their 30s.
That said, Gilmore is a rare breed. He’s only one of two cornerbacks to win Defensive Player of the Year since 1994. It’s possible that last year was just weird due to the pandemic and some injury issues. He almost certainly has at least one more good season in him but considering his contract situation, the Raiders shouldn’t give up anything more than a third-round pick and change.
The team would need to consider that Gilmore won’t be able to play until Week 7 as he was recently put on the Patriots PUP list.
Raiders’ Secondary Could Be Better Than People Expect
There’s no doubt that Gilmore would be a big upgrade to the Raiders’ secondary. If he can return to form, he may be up there with Jalen Ramsey as the best cornerback in the NFL. However, the Raiders’ secondary is being underrated headed into 2021.
Hayward is past his prime but can still be an effective player. He was once ranked among the NFL’s best cornerbacks and is only a year older than Gilmore. Perhaps a change of scenery is what he needed to return to Pro Bowl form.
Trayvon Mullen will be entering his third season and showed really good flashes last season. There were some bumpy moments last but he has big-time potential. Nate Hobbs, Damon Arnette and Amik Robertson could give the Raiders some really good young depth if they continue to develop. Obviously, if they can get Gilmore at a discount, they should but it’s not a massive need.