NFL free agency is off and running, and we’re keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2022 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from our experts. The new league year begins March 16 at 4 p.m. ET, which means free-agent signings can be made official after that. The first round of the 2022 NFL draft begins April 28 on ESPN.
With NFL free agency beginning, the Raiders have specific needs at cornerback, receiver, offensive line and backup quarterback. And with a new regime of general manager Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels, the Silver and Black suddenly have a certain Patriot Way about them.
The Raiders and Phillips agreed to terms on a one-year contract worth $2.25 million, a source told ESPN.
What it means: Not exactly the splashiest of signings, but a needed one for depth and, well, special teams. Sure, the Raiders had been linked to front-line corners such as J.C. Jackson and Stephon Gilmore so to first reach an agreement with Phillips, who last started a game in 2020 and went on IR with a shoulder injury after 12 games last season, seems like a meh moment for the Raiders’ new regime. But Phillips was more of a returner in 2021, averaging 21.1 yards on eight kickoff returns and 7.1 yards on 25 punt returns. And he should take over punt return duties from receiver Hunter Renfrow, who caught 103 passes for 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
What’s the risk: Phillips’ shoulder is not healed and he is unable to lift the punt return burden from Pro Bowl slot man Renfrow, who needs to stay healthy himself. Plus, if Phillips is starting at corner opposite Trayvon Mullen Jr., that means the Raiders swung and missed at getting an established cornerback in free agency. Still, Phillips did pick off a career-best four passes in eight games, with one start, in 2019 for the Bengals, who drafted him in the fourth round out of Western Michigan in 2018. So he does have a nose for the ball.