ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The exodus from Oakland continued on Day 2 of NFL free agency as a 2013 first-round draft pick became the fifth of the Oakland Raiders' 13 unrestricted free agents to go elsewhere.
Hayden joins linebackers Malcolm Smith (San Francisco 49ers) and Daren Bates (Tennessee Titans), defensive tackle Stacy McGee (Washington) and safety Brynden Trawick (Titans) as former Raiders, while Oakland had yet to strike a deal with any other free agents.
While Hayden, 26, never lived up to the expectations that come with being selected 12th overall, it is not his fault the Raiders took him so early. Indeed, he actually started to carve out a role for himself in the slot as Oakland’s nickel corner. The Raiders trusted him enough that he started on the outside twice before a hamstring injury ended his season after 11 games last year.
“Keep being aggressive,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said, when asked what he wanted to see out of Hayden midway through the season, when Hayden was picking up penalties with aplomb, without creating turnovers. “We want him to be aggressive and compete. I think he’s done that and he’s had a pretty solid year for us.”
But Hayden, who had a base salary of $1,812,777 in 2016, did not have an interception for the first time in his career. In fact, he only has three career picks, for no yards. Three cornerbacks selected after Hayden in that 2013 draft -- Desmond Trufant, Xavier Rhodes and Tyrann Mathieu -- have already been selected to the Pro Bowl.
Bust may be too harsh, but there was a feeling both team and player would benefit from a change of scenery. Besides not coming up with any picks in 2016, Hayden was also one of the more penalized players in Oakland. And his overall Pro Football Focus grade of 48.6 was just 97th among cornerbacks while the QB rating against him of 85.5 -- he gave up 36 catches for 341 yards and two TDs with four passes defensed on 61 targets in 296 snaps in coverage -- was only 75th among cornerbacks.
The eight other Raiders UFAs who are still unsigned: offensive lineman Menelik Watson, tight end Mychal Rivera, receiver Andre Holmes, quarterback Matt McGloin, running back Latavius Murray, linebacker Perry Riley Jr., safety Nate Allen and long-snapper Jon Condo.