In his three seasons with the 49ers, Carlos Rogers was a significant piece of one of the NFL’s best defenses.
He was durable – starting all 48 games – and often terrific. In his first season with San Francisco in 2011, he was named to the Pro Bowl after a career-high six interceptions.
But in order to clear salary-cap space, the 49ers decided not to re-sign Rogers this offseason, allowing him to test the free-agent market.
Now he’s landed across the Bay in Oakland and could earn a starting spot at corner next to his former 49ers corner partner Tarell Brown.
With money still to spend, the Raiders are making huge changes to their roster this offseason, adding veterans such as Rogers who have played well with winning teams. The question is, are the Raiders adding a glut of over-the-hill castoffs, or players who can bring great work ethics and a hunger to prove themselves again?
Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Rogers, 32, has played more snaps as a slot cornerback than any other player in the NFL over the past three seasons. The likely scenario is that Rogers will be the Raiders’ slot defender in 2014, with Brown and second-year man D.J. Hayden on the outside. Yet according to Tafur, Rogers’ coverage grade, as tracked by Pro Football Focus, has declined in both 2012 and 2013 after his Pro Bowl season of 2011.
After his six-pick year of 2011, he’s had just three (total) in two seasons.
Still a trio of Rogers, Brown and Hayden with safeties Charles Woodson and Tyvon Branch, backed up by Usama Young, gives the Oakland secondary a solid look. And, with the veterans added to the defensive line – Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Antonio Smith and C.J. Wilson – the Raiders may be able to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, making the secondary’s job a bit easier.
The Raiders in 2013 were the fifth-worst pass defense in the NFL, allowing nearly 256 yards per game, as well as 33 touchdown passes, which tied for second-worst in the league. And, though they greatly improved their pass rush from 2012, Oakland had only 38 in 2013, which put them 18th in the league.
The addition of veterans such as Rogers and Brown at cornerback certainly feels like an upgrade over last year’s tandem of Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter. But can all these veterans come together to form a cohesive defense in the win-now atmosphere in Oakland in 2014?
That’s what general manager Reggie McKenzie is gambling. And Rogers is eager to prove himself all over again.
“It’s going to be fun,” Rogers told Tafur, of playing alongside Brown again in new uniforms. “We bring leadership and experience. We helped turn the 49ers defense around and maybe that translates over here to the Raiders.”