June 18, 2024

The Las Vegas Raiders are short on experience in their cornerback room as training camp approaches, and it appears they have been considering addressing the position. According to a June 9 X post by KPRC 2 Houston’s Aaron Wilson, the organization was considering signing former Houston Texans cornerback Steven Nelson.

However, Nelson declared his retirement from the NFL.

Nelson, 31, may have had a few years left as a capable starting cornerback. He had four interceptions last season, indicating that he was still playing at a high level. Nelson would have been a great fit for the Raiders.

He’s hardly a household name, so he probably wouldn’t have demanded a lot of money in a free agency contract. He would have been the Raiders’ most veteran cornerback and a proven leader. He may have been a valuable player in a youthful secondary. Regardless, he’s leaving the game, and the Raiders will need to look elsewhere for a cornerback.

Las Vegas Raiders May Rather Focus on Youth

Wilson’s story comes shortly after The Athletic’s Tashan Reed revealed that the Raiders have no plans to spend on any more free agents this offseason. The team has been quiet since adding defensive tackle Christian Wilkins early in free agency, and they haven’t spent much money.

Tom Telesco, the team’s new general manager, appears to be focused on developing the roster’s youthful players. Last season, head coach Antonio Pierce and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham did an excellent job of developing young players, and I believe some of them will make significant improvements this year.

Signing an experienced cornerback is not guaranteed to work. Casey Hayward was signed by the Raiders prior to the 2021 season and proved to be an impact player. However, last year, the team signed Marcus Peters late in free agency, and his play was so dismal that he was released in the middle of the season. Adding an aging player this late in the game is always risky, but they are easy to get rid of if they sign a small contract. It wouldn’t hurt the Raiders to bring someone in if they don’t like what they see at mandatory minicamp.

 

Veteran cornerback Steven Nelson retires from NFL at 31 - ESPN

Who Is Left for Las Vegas Raiders to Target at CB?

Nelson is no longer available, and Xavien Howard is dealing with a legal situation, leaving the Raiders with fewer cornerback alternatives. Stephon Gilmore is still available and would make sense. He’s 34 now and may be willing to sign without a guaranteed starting berth.

Adoree Jackson would also make sense. He played for Graham while he was the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator. He’d be simple to connect and play. For the time being, it appears that the Raiders are content to let Jack Jones, Jakorian Bennett, and Brandon Facyson compete for the starting cornerback position.

Jones appears to have one of the positions sealed up for now, while Bennett and Facyson compete. Bennett taking control and earning the starting role would be beneficial to the Raiders. He is significantly younger, and his pace makes him quite interesting. He began last year as a starter but was benched. Perhaps he’s prepared to make a significant leap in his second year.

 

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