Inside the Raiders: Shopping for safeties, salary cap conundrum and could Gannon be Carr’s QB coach?

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The Raiders need Johnathan Abram (24) to assert himself as a top level safety in 2021 and find a suitable running mate.

Free agency begins in less than a month, officially starting Phase 1 of another Raiders defensive rebuild.

It’s a precarious process, wrought with errors in judgement in that so many of those available were flawed enough to be allowed to hit the open market by their current employer and are then rewarded with contracts that far outweigh their value.

Look no further than linebacker Cory Littleton (three years, $35.25 million), defensive end Carl Nassib (three years, $25.25 million) and slot corner Lamarcus Joyner (four years, $42 million) as the Raiders’ big-ticket items on defense in the past two free agency periods.

The good news is it appears safety, a position of great need for the Raiders, may be the position that has the most talent to hit the market pending franchise tags. Teams could begin using the franchise tag Tuesday and have through March 9 to remove players from open bidding with no compensation.

If the Raiders can find a safety compatible with Gus Bradley’s new defensive system and get Johnathan Abram up and running as a player worthy of his 2019 first-round draft pick, it will go a long way toward bringing one of the NFL’s worst defenses to something approaching respectability.

The top prize is Denver’s Justin Simmons, who was franchise tagged last year…

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