The Raiders are releasing safety Jeff Heath, as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reports (via Twitter). Las Vegas signed Heath to a two-year pact last March, but he only made it halfway through that deal.
Heath, who will turn 30 in a little over a week, has carved out a career that most college free agents dream of. Signed by the Cowboys as a UDFA out of Saginaw Valley State in 2013, he appeared in all 16 of Dallas’ games in his rookie season, starting nine of them. His defensive snaps took a downturn over the next few seasons as he settled in as a core special-teamer, but he became the Cowboys’ primary strong safety from 2017-19.
In thirteen games (five starts) for the Raiders in 2020, Heath intercepted three passes, tying his career-high mark set in 2017. He also graded out as the 16th-best safety in the league per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics, which assigned him high marks for his coverage abilities.
However, the Raiders’ defense was their Achilles’ heel last season, and the club selected two safeties in last week’s draft (Trevon Moehrig and Tyree Gillespie), so Heath’s release is not terribly surprising. Vegas also reunited with Karl Joseph last month.
Heath should be able to catch on with a club in need of safety help, especially since he can still be a valuable contributor to a third unit. His release saves the Raiders $3.15MM in cap space, which will help subsidize today’s Casey Hayward signing.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.