Raiders Could Be Fit for 4-Time Pro Bowler With Ties to Patrick Graham

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Las Vegas Raiders DC Patrick Graham.

The Las Vegas Raiders defense had a major resurgence in 2023 and finished top-10 in the NFL in points allowed. They did it while having the second-cheapest defense in the league, per Spotrac.

Now the team has a defensive head coach in Antonio Pierce and will likely allocate more money to that side of the ball. The Miami Dolphins made a surprising move with the news that they are releasing star cornerback Xavien Howard. He should now be highly sought after in free agency.

Garrett Podell of CBS Sports seems to believe that the Raiders would be a strong fit.

“The Raiders underwent a significant defensive turnaround last season following the firing of head Josh McDaniels and the promotion of linebackers coach Antonio Pierce to interim head coach,” Podell wrote in a February 23 column. “Las Vegas led the NFL in scoring defense (16.0) under Pierce from Week 9 through the conclusion of the 2023 regular season.

“However, they still ranked 22nd in passing yards per game allowed (226.0) under Pierce last season, highlighting their secondary as an area for improvement entering his first season as the team’s full-time head coach. One of the Raiders’ starting cornerbacks, Amik Robertson, is set to become a free agent, opening a spot that Howard could slide into. Vegas is projected to have the 10th-most cap space in the league this offseason at $48.7 million, according to OverTheCap.com, making the addition of Howard viable.”

Considering the fact that Howard is turning 31 in July, his asking price shouldn’t be too high.


Xavien Howard Played Under Patrick Graham

Xavien Howard to the Raiders could make a lot of sense due to the fact that he played under defensive coordinator Patrick Graham in 2019 while they were both with the Dolphins. While Howard got hurt that season and only played five games, he should have some level of familiarity with the coach’s schemes.

The Raiders haven’t given Graham much to work with over his two seasons with the team but giving him a player like Howard could only help.


Is Xavien Howard Right Fit With Las Vegas Raiders?

There was a time when Xavien Howard was one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. He’s a four-time Pro Bowl and led the league in interceptions in 2018 and 2020. However, he’s only had one interception in each of the last two seasons and he’s getting up there in age.

The Raiders took a chance on an aging cornerback last season when they signed Marcus Peters and that didn’t work out as he was released during the season. Now, Howard is a player that Patrick Graham knows so he’d have good insight into whether or not he’s a fit.

The Raiders need a No. 1 cornerback and Howard likely isn’t that at this stage in his career. That said, he’d add great depth to a young secondary. If the team can’t land one of the top cornerbacks in free agency or draft one early, Howard would be a good fallback plan. Jack Jones showed really strong flashes last season but it remains to be seen if he’s a No. 1 cornerback or if he’s better-suited to be a No. 2.

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