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Raiders continue to address secondary with free agent signing

Updated May 4, 2021 - 5:27 pm

After completing the majority of their offseason to-do list during free agency and the draft, the Raiders on Tuesday might have filled the slot cornerback hole created by the release of Lamarcus Joyner.

The Raiders came to terms with veteran cornerback Casey Hayward, 31 a two-time Pro Bowler who played the last three seasons in San Diego under new Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.

In a corresponding move, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed that veteran free safety Jeff Heath, who played one season with the Raiders, will be released.

The deal for Hayward could mean a return to his original position with the Green Bay Packers, who drafted him in the second round in 2012. Or, it could give Hayward one of the starting roles at outside cornerback, moving second-year defensive back Damon Arnette to the inside.

Hayward has lined up in the slot on 1,631 of his 6,850 career snaps. On the other hand, outside of a dip in performance last year with the Chargers, Hayward has consistently graded out as a highly effective outside corner. Hayward has totaled 371 tackles, 23 interceptions and 100 passes breakups in his his career.

If he can prove he is back on track after a down 2020 season, he would represent the highest level of cornerback play on the roster.

Arnette struggled as a rookie, suffering a fractured wrist and a concussion. The 19th overall pick in 2020 has experience playing in the slot at Ohio State and could fill that role in his second NFL season.

Hayward is the second veteran cornerback the Raiders have added this offseason, joining Rasul Douglas. They also drafted Nate Hobbs in the fifth round last weekend. He and second-year defensive back Amik Robertson also will be in the mix to earn time in the slot.

vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

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