With Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels now running the show for the Las Vegas Raiders, there could be some big changes. Neither man has any attachment to the players on the current roster, even if they were a high draft pick. The team has had some really bad whiffs in the draft over recent years so there could be some high-profile names who get let go.
Cornerback is a position group that Ziegler will need to attack this offseason. Casey Hayward was the Raiders’ best cornerback in 2021 but he’s a free agent. He could re-sign but that’s not a guarantee. Despite the need at the position, Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report believes that the team needs to cut 2019 second-round pick Trayvon Mullen:
With Mullen largely out of the lineup this past season, the Raiders secondary was solid. Las Vegas ranked 13th in passing yards allowed and eighth in yards per attempt allowed. We’re in another situation where the incoming front office will see that it can succeed without a player.
Mullen will be a free agent in 2023 anyway. Las Vegas can save roughly $2.5 million by parting with him a year early.
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Cutting Mullen Wouldn’t Make a Lot of Sense
Mullen only played in five games last season due to injury. Prior to that, he was the team’s other starting cornerback next to Hayward. The 24-year-old out of Clemson has shown real promise at times but hasn’t been consistent. That said, it doesn’t make much sense for the Raiders to cut him right now.
Mullen is a starting-caliber cornerback, which is a position usually worth a lot more than the $2.5 million the team would save by cutting him. He’s young and has great size at 6-foot-2. He can still develop into a dependable cornerback. The Raiders would be wise to hold onto him and see if he can live up to his draft status.
Will Raiders Bring Back Hayward?
After a rough 2020 season for Hayward, opinions on him were low. It appeared that his best days were behind him. However, he proved that he has plenty left in the tank in 2021. According to Pro Football Focus, Hayward was the 13th best cornerback in all of football last season. He should be getting a better contract this offseason than the one-year, $2.5 million the Raiders gave him last offseason. It remains to be seen if Las Vegas will be giving it to him.
Ziegler and McDaniels haven’t had a chance to fully evaluate the team’s roster yet so it’s possible that Hayward is in their 2022 plans. Regardless of what defensive system they choose to run, he’ll be an asset. If the Raiders choose not to retain him, the need at cornerback will get even bigger. The team has tried to draft cornerbacks in early rounds for years now and the results have been bad. Perhaps Ziegler will turn to free agency to address the position. J.C. Jackson is coming off an All-Pro season with the New England Patriots and will be a free agent. Ziegler is very familiar with him and could make a run at the superstar cornerback.
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