Raiders: Damarious Randall signing solidifies the safety position

Raiders, Damarious Randall (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Raiders, Damarious Randall (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Las Vegas Raiders have reportedly signed defensive back Damarious Randall in a move that should help solidify the safety position.

The Las Vegas Raiders were dealt some bad news last night when it was reported that the deal given to free-agent cornerback Eli Apple had fallen through. But mere hours later, the team made up for it signing veteran Damarious Randall.

The Apple fallout was a major blow to a Raiders team that was already going to be quite thin at cornerback even with the former first-round pick on the roster.

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Apple was expected to start alongside second-year pro Trayvon Mullen on the outside while Lamarcus Joyner handed slot duties — a role he struggled with in 2019. The 2020 NFL Draft was expected to help matters.

Now, addressing the position in the first round feels like a necessity. However, it appears as though they did just get stronger at another position of need.

The newly-signed Damarious Randall has spent the last two seasons as a full-time starter at free safety for the Cleveland Browns. That’s where fans should expect to see him play in 2020.

Now, Randall does have experience playing cornerback much like the aforementioned Joyner does. However, he hasn’t played the position since his time in Green Bay and he’s certainly fared better at safety.

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Unless it’s otherwise stated, don’t expect Randall to be playing cornerback. In no way is he an Eli Apple replacement, but he might actually be an upgrade.

After the team has essentially exhausted all of their spending money, it appeared as though the Raiders were set to enter the draft with a trio of Johnathan Abram, Erik Harris, and Jeff Heath as their top safety options.

The Raiders are incredibly high on Abram who shined in training camp but missed essentially his entire rookie season with a shoulder injury. But there was reason to be concerned with the duo of Harris and Heath.

Not anymore.

Randall and Abram will combine for one of the better safety duos in the AFC and the two perfectly complement each other’s skillset. Abram is the hard-hitting, bruising strong safety while Randall is a coverage-oriented, rangy free safety.

Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has stressed that putting labels on their safeties isn’t really that important. But the roles seem to be pretty defined.

Not only will the Raiders now have a very solid starting duo, but they now have some of the best depth in the league. Harris is a stout special-teamer who started 14 games last season and could have very well been relied upon as a starter in 2020 if not for this recent development.

Meanwhile, Heath has started 44 games over the past three seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and also brings with him an impressive special-teams pedigree.

The Raiders now have four players who they’d be comfortable starting at safety if need be, not to mention the versatile Lamarcus Joyner.

Of course, the need at cornerback remains more prevalent than ever and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the team double-up at the position in the draft. Randall could see some time there in a pinch, but until further notice, it’s fair to assume that he’ll be playing safety.

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Cornerback may now be an even bigger need, but at least the Raiders appear to have figured out the plan at safety.