The Las Vegas Raiders brought in some much-needed experience to the secondary in the form of former Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward.
The Raiders emphasized shoring up their voids over the top of the defense through both free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft. Although they had successfully assembled a talented, young crop of talent, they still needed a veteran to help balance this group out.
Hayward will now be staying in the AFC West with a few familiar faces stemming from his days with the Chargers. His connection to defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and defensive backs coach Ron Milus should help make the transition as smooth as possible.
Hayward revealed during an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio that this was just one of the factors that went into his decision to sign with the Raiders.
“When we found out the cap dropped, I knew this was going to be a weird situation, especially for a lot of the vets,” Hayward said in a recent interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio. “There’s still a lot of vets that’s still not signed, which is kind of crazy — some guys that have played a lot of ball and have been successful. But I wasn’t worried, I’ve got good faith. My agent told me we could’ve been signed if that was the case, but we wanted to wait and figure it out and try to be in the best situation. I feel like the Raiders were the best situation for me.
“As a team, I feel like they’re just missing a few pieces. They were really good on offense last year. They put up 30 points a game. Now it’s about the defense. If we can hold teams to 20 points, if we’re scoring 30, we’re going to win most of those games. so we’ve got to do a good job on the defensive side.”
There is certainly some truth to Hayward’s comments. Although they fell short of 30 points per game, they still finished No. 10 in scoring with 27.1 points per game.
The defense finished 30th with 29.9 points per game, which is the area that Hayward is slated to help improve the most. His pedigree as a two-time All-Pro should help pay some dividends for the youth movement that has gone on in the secondary in recent years.
Cornerbacks Damon Arnette and Trayvon Mullen are expected to make tremendous strides in their development for the 2021 NFL season. It will be interesting to see the kind of impact Hayward has on making it come to fruition.