Casey Hayward Jr. has decided to pack his bags and follow his defensive coordinator nearly 300 miles northeast to the desert.
After months of speculation of what players would fit Gus Bradley's new defensive scheme, the Silver and Black officially inked Hayward in the Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center on Tuesday afternoon. The signing is a nice cherry on top for the Raiders' free-agent class after spending this offseason bolstering the defense with veterans Yannick Ngakoue, Solomon Thomas and Rasul Douglas.
For Hayward, it was as much about rejoining Gus Bradley, a coach Hayward affectionately calls "my guy," as it was about having an opportunity to serve as a leader to the Raiders' young secondary.
"Most of the time, [this league] is about 'I'. It's got a selfish component to it," Hayward told Raiders.com's Eddie Paskal on Upon Further Review. "I remember when I was in Green Bay, I got drafted in the second round. We had some guys that were already there that had had a lot of success — Tramon Williams, Charles Woodson, Sam Shields — those guys won Super Bowls, Pro Bowls, things like that."
Those veterans set a tone that gave Hayward a model of mentorship he's adopted, especially as he's matured into one of the league's most reliable and professional cornerbacks.
"When I got [to Green Bay], those guys treated me just like everybody else," Hayward said. "Tramon took me under his wing. ... Obviously when I got there, I wanted to come in and play. But Tramon wasn't worried about that. He was worried about the bigger picture. He wanted me to get better. He wanted to show me how to be a pro. Over the years, that's what I've been trying to do as well. ... That's what it's about."
That mentality is music to Mike Mayock's ears. The Raiders' general manager was a guest on Raider Nation Radio on Thursday and echoed Hayward's sentiments.
"We knew we had a need at corner," Mayock said. "We especially wanted a veteran corner. As a matter of fact, Gus Bradley and I called him together. Because Gus has such a good relationship, as does Coach [Ron] Milus... we got [Hayward] on the phone."
It didn't take long for both sides to find common ground.
"Long story short, the fit was established," Mayock said. "[Hayward] wanted to come here. As soon as the draft ended, he was the first phone call. It all came together."
It's no secret there is a lot of youth — and a lot of draft capital — in the secondary. In addition to raising the level of competition instantly, Mayock thinks Hayward can set a professional tone in the position room.
"The whole key to him? Veteran corner," Mayock said. "True pro. Kids in the room are going to look up to him. He works hard at it every single day. He'll be good for them both on and off the field. We're excited to have him."
Hayward had his best years in the NFL under Bradley and Milus in their time together with the Chargers. He was a two-time Pro Bowler, two-time Second team All-Pro and led the league in interceptions (7) in 2016.
The 31-year old cornerback now has the opportunity to get back on the right foot with some familiar faces.
View photos of new Raiders cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. in action. A versatile corner and defensive leader, Hayward Jr. joins the Silver and Black having spent his first nine years with the Green Bay Packers (2012-15) and Los Angeles Chargers (2016-20).