Before the Las Vegas Raiders signed Prince Amukamara, the cornerback's room had an average age of 23, and General Manager Mike Mayock, Head Coach Jon Gruden, and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther knew the unit needed to add some veteran experience.
Over the past decade, Amukamara has established himself as a solid defender in the NFL, totaling 10 interceptions, one touchdown — which came courtesy of a perfectly read game-sealing pick-six against the Seattle Seahawks in 2018 — 78 passes defensed, six forced fumbles, and 477 tackles.
What the Raiders' cornerback room lacked in experience, the Amukamara signing remedied that. In a couple of weeks, the 10-year veteran will turn 31, but he's demonstrated no signs of slowing down. Last season, the former Chicago Bear started in 15 games and finished with 10 passes defensed, so there's plenty of reason to believe he can still perform at a high level. The opportunity to sign with the Raiders felt right for Amukamara, who's ready to compete for the starting job.
"Everything was very positive, [the decision to sign me] was more based on a certain set of skills that I have and how I can help with what's going on," Amukamara said when asked about his preliminary discussions with the coaching staff. "[Mayock, Gruden, and Guenther] thought I could be a very essential part, and I think also what's always been praised about me — not to toot my own horn — but me being a veteran and a true pro. Just the way I'm able to lead."
If there's one thing Amukamara doesn't lack, it's confidence. Dating back to when Guenther was the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals, Amukamara took notice of the way Guenther enabled his defensive to play with aggression. The Arizona native considers himself one of the best press corners in the league and believes he'll be able to thrive in his new scheme because of his aggressive instincts.
"With Paul's defense, I followed him when he was at Cincinnati and you can see the guys are aggressive, and he likes for his guys to press and I think that's where I flourish," he said. "I'm one of, if not the best, corners in press, man-to-man coverage in the league and I have the tape to show that, which is why I'm saying that so boldly.
"[Guenther] seems like he's the kind of guy that likes to attack, he doesn't sit back and wait for the game to come to him. You like that as a defensive player because you know you have a guy who's going to send pressure and who's going to take it, and put you in a position to make those plays."
Mayock and Gruden have been able to address a lot of team needs in a short amount of time, and the Amukamara signing signals the duo's desire to improve the defense's ability to force turnovers.
In 2019, the Raiders ranked 29th in interceptions, finishing the year with just nine. Getting Guenther aggressive playmakers was a must for Mayock and Gruden this offseason. Paired with Trayvon Mullen on the opposite side, Amukamara will help mentor a youthful cornerbacks room and slide in nicely to Guenther's system.