The Oakland Raiders locked up another key piece of last year's defense when they signed cornerback David Amerson to an extension on Friday.
General manager Reggie McKenzie and the Oakland Raiders claimed Amerson off the waivers after the Washington Redskins parted ways with him after week 2. The former N.C. State cornerback never lived up to the hype that made him the 51st overall pick in 2013, but proved to be a key pickup for a Raiders secondary that was struggling.
In just 14 games with the Raiders (12 starts), the former second-round pick set the Raiders' franchise record with 26 passes defensed and also won Pro Football Focus' most-improved player award for 2015. He also added four interceptions to his impressive season.
The Raiders rewarded the young cornerback with a four-year, $38 million extension with $18 million guaranteed. Amerson was entering the final year of his rookie contract, so it could have been more expensive if he played as well this year as he did last year.
Giving Amerson the extension now locks up a solid cornerback duo for the upcoming years after they signed one of the top free agent cornerbacks in Sean Smith, who joined the Raiders with a four-year, $40 million contract this offseason. The Raiders now have the best cornerback duo they've had in recent years, along with some stability in a secondary that hasn't seen it in awhile.
Amerson staying on the team also gives McKenzie and the front office a young cornerback to continue to develop into their defense while also giving them an insurance policy to former first-round pick DJ Hayden, who has struggled since being drafted 12th overall.
Hayden now becomes more expendable as the Raiders have other young corners they can focus on developing if Hayden still continues to struggle on the field.
McKenzie has shown that he won't hesitate to give a player an extension early if he believes that they will continue to play well, just as he did with wide receiver Michael Crabtree. It appears he did that with Amerson, and it could prove to be beneficial again should he play at the level he played at last season.