The Oakland Raiders started last season with veterans Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer as their starting cornerbacks. Spencer was placed on injured reserve with a foot injury and Bartell was injured and released later in the season. Their third cornerback, Pat Lee was also released. Free safety Michael Huff moved to the starting cornerback position out of necessity, leaving the Raiders with some big decisions this offseason.
Huff played well in 2012 considering he was thrown into the fire at cornerback. He started all 16 games during the season, 15 of which were at cornerback. There were times opposing teams went after Huff because of his inexperience and it paid off, but Huff has the skill set to be a cornerback for the Raiders. He is scheduled to make 4 million dollars in base salary for 2013 with another 7 plus million in bonuses. With the Raiders lack of depth and experience at the position, Huff may be the best option to take one of the starting roles next year. He tied for the team lead with two interceptions and led the team with 13 pass defenses in 2012.
Phillip Adams played very well late in the season for Oakland, earning the starting job. However, in both starts he made in 2012, he was injured and had to leave the games. He is a restricted free agent this offseason, which gives the Raiders an edge to resign him. Adams also intercepted two passes in 2012 and had five pass defenses. Judging from his serge last season, he should be the priority for the Raiders to resign.
Joselio Hanson played mostly in nickle packages for the Raiders before injuries decimated the position. He started five games and made some huge plays for the defense. Hanson made 61 tackles, two interceptions, two fumbles recoveries, and one forced fumble. His knack for takeaways was a huge boost to a defense that forced only 21 turnovers in 2012. Hanson is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and the Raiders should expect to have some competition to retain his services.
Coye Francies mostly contributed on special teams, but was needed in a few defensive situations because of the musical chairs in the secondary. He is an exclusive rights free agent this offseason, meaning he can only resign with the Raiders at the veteran minimum if offered.
Because Spencer was unable to show much during the 2012 season, the Raiders will most likely look elsewhere to find cornerback depth. Spencer suffered a Lisfranc injury in week two and never saw the field again. He was signed as a one year stopgap before the season and is an unrestricted free agent. With so many other players to lock up at the cornerback position, Spencer would have to accept a one year deal for reasonable money to have any chance of returning to Oakland.
The Raiders also have 2011 fourth round draft pick Chimdi Chekwa signed through the 2013 season. He spent much of the year on the practice squad but moved to the active roster for the final three games of the season.
With some many unanswered questions in the Raiders secondary for the 2013 season, it is difficult to tell what they will look like next season. The Raiders certainly will look to free agency and the draft to add more players to a secondary that really hurt them in several games last season. They will also have to find the money to resign Adams or Hanson. Until they can sort out whom they can bring back and who they can add, the Raiders secondary remains a major concern on this defense.
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