The Raiders don’t currently employ a career safety with a start to his credit.
Charles Woodson officially retired. Nate Allen got released on Tuesday afternoon. Backups Larry Asante and Taylor Mays are headed for free agency.
The team is expected to overhaul the secondary from the outside in, but there’s one incumbent option who could fill a safety spot.
Enter cornerback TJ Carrie, who made several starts at safety after Allen got hurt early on. Carrie picked up the position quick, proving he had the smarts, skills and physical play required to play the center of the secondary.
Carrie moved back to corner after Allen’s return, proving he’s a versatile piece easily used to shore a weakness. Safety seems like a real possibility for No. 38.
Carrie says he’ll play anywhere and that the Raiders haven’t told him yet to focus on one position.
“As of right now, I don’t know,” Carrie said. “I think it’s going to depend on the draft and free agency. I’m going to be able to piece things together from that. We may draft a safety high or sign a big-name veteran to come in and start. Those will be clues for me as we go through the offseason.”
Carrie has been somewhat of a surprise contributor. The Concord De La Salle grad was a 2014 seventh-round pick who fit right in at the pro level, and made an immediate impact with the Raiders.
Playing safety last season was a first, an in-season transition aided by mentors with experience. Defensive backs coach Marcus Robertson was an All-Pro safety. Assistant secondary coach Rod Woodson was a Hall-of-Famer who played cornerback and safety. So did contemporary Charles Woodson, who also played in both spots.
Neither player had to adjust on the fly like Carrie did last year, when he proved he can be an NFL safety with greater seasoning.
“Safety and corner are two drastically different positions,” Carrie said. “I was aided greatly by Charles Woodson, playing next to him as a safety and next to him as a corner. At safety, I’m back there with him and we’re communicating. In the film room, we’re working on things we need to do and what looks we could give.
"Having him as a resource was essential to my growth. It’ll give him a leg up on wherever the team wants me to play. I believe I’m a better defensive back for the experience.”