The Las Vegas Raiders have been active since the legal tampering window began, making noise in the form of trades and free agent signings. However, one position they’ve neglected up to this point is safety. So which free agent safeties could the Raiders pursue?
The Raiders’ biggest need entering free agency included adding help along their defensive line to generate an improved pass rush, and a roaming safety on the backend to pair with third-year player Jonathan Abram. While the Raiders took care of one need, singing pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue, they still haven’t added a free agent safety up to this point.
The current safety group consist of Abram, Jeff Heath and Dallin Leavitt. Last season, Abram displayed moments of playing like a former first round selection, but as the season progressed he experienced difficulties in coverage and teams began to exploit that. Heath has started 59 games in the NFL, mainly with the Dallas Cowboys but he’s more of a rotational player at this stage of his career, versus an every-down starter. Leavitt has been primarily a special teams contributor in three seasons with the Raiders and remains an unknown of what he can provide at safety.
Not only does Las Vegas need a starting free safety, but they need depth in particular. It appears the Raiders are content waiting out the free agent safeties to some extent. Whether that’s because they view the position deeper than others, or they’re targeting someone in the draft, the unit needs an upgrade nonetheless.
So after sitting out the first wave of free agency and seeing the top-tier free agent safeties signing elsewhere, what options still remain available?
The safety market is getting thinner by the day. Specifically, the free safety market and Ricardo Allen sits among the top options that still remain available. Allen is the best fit for the Raiders due to the previous scheme he was utilized in during his time with the Atlanta Falcons. He’s played single-high safety, roaming the back half of the field, similar to how new Raiders’ defensive coordinator Gus Bradley deploys his free safeties in his defensive system. Allen has started 28 games over the past two seasons and would help stabilize the position with his experience.
Signing a free safety to be the center fielder of the Raiders’ defense is just what the team needs. Malik Hooker fits that mold accordingly. As a member of the Indianapolis Colts, Hooker was a staple on the back end, exhibiting his ball-seeking ability in which he’s recorded at least two interceptions in three of his four NFL seasons. However, the one concern with Hooker remains his health status. Hooker tore his Achilles’ tendon in Week 2 last season so he’ll have to prove he’s put the injury well behind him before being penciled into a starting role. Perhaps a team visit or workout would indicate where Hooker is in the recovery process.
Tre Boston is another option to anchor the last line of defense for Las Vegas. Throughout his career, Boston once played in Bradley’s defensive system going back to his 2017 season, and he delivered as the single-high safety. In Boston’s only season under Bradley, he totaled the best year of his career, securing five interceptions, eight pass breakups and 79 tackles. Boston would be a plug-and-play free agent safety option who can play the leadership role alongside the youth in the Raiders’ secondary.