The Las Vegas Raiders are making some major moves on the defensive side of the ball this offseason.
According to NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero, the team released safety Jeff Heath on Wednesday. Through his first and only season with the Raiders in 2020, the eighth-year pro played a significant role in the secondary — earning AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 10.
The #Raiders are releasing safety Jeff Heath on Wednesday, per source. He was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 10 last season. Now, set to be a free agent.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 4, 2021
After going undrafted in 2012, Heath was picked up by the Dallas Cowboys where he played the next seven seasons. In 2017, the former backup worked his way up to a leading safety position — starting 44 games for the Cowboys from 2017-19.
Despite starting only five games and missing three with a concussion through his first season in Las Vegas, Heath put up some of the best numbers of his career. As the last line of defense for Jon Gruden’s squad, he tied his career high in interceptions with three on the season (two of which came in their Week 10 win over the Broncos).
Turning 30 years old later this month, Heath should be a valuable free-agent target for teams looking to increase secondary depth — the same kind of secondary depth the Raiders seem to have found in this year’s draft.
After the surprising selection of offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood in the first round, Las Vegas went all out on the defensive side of the ball — especially on the secondary unit. Adding TCU safety Trevon Moehrig (No. 43 overall), Virginia Tech defensive back Divine Deablo (No. 80), Missouri safety Tyree Gillespie (No. 143) and Illinois cornerback Nate Hobbs (No. 167), there’s not much room left for Heath on the Raiders’ young DB group.
Allowing 263.2 yards per game through the air last season (ranked 25th in NFL), Las Vegas will look to improve those figures behind an overhauled secondary in 2021.