The Oakland Raiders went into free agency open minded but started off on end of the stick with the entire Rodger Saffold debacle but GM Reggie McKenzie and his staff have completely turned things around, specifically on the defensive side of the ball.
On Thursday, the Raiders signed two defensive Pro-Bowlers to add leadership and a strong pass rush to their team. Justin Tuck, formerly of the New York Giants, and Lamar Woodley, formerly of the Pittsburg Steelers, both signed two year contracts with the Raiders. Both players bring years of experience, leadership and Super Bowl hardware as both have won a Lombardi trophy.
Tuck, who signed for a reported $11 Million, is a defensive end who was originally drafted in 2005 as a third round selection by the New York Giants. He has made two Pro-Bowls and was first team All-Pro in 2009. Last year he had 11 sacks, one interception, four passes defended, two forced fumbles and 41 tackles. After two down years, Tuck produced like he did in his two Pro-Bowl seasons in 2008 and 2009. Tuck has played in all 16 games per year five out of his nine seasons and has career totals of 60.5 sacks, two interceptions, one touchdown, 26 passes defended, 18 forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and 324 tackles. This is a very good signing by the Raiders and gives them a recognizable name that is willing to come to Oakland. They have had trouble signing free agents and by landing Tuck, and treating him right these two year, they could easily gain the support and voice of a very outspoken Tuck.
Lamar Woodley, who signed reportedly for upwards of $12 Million, is an outside linebacker who was originally drafted in 2007 as a second round selection by the Pittsburg Steelers. The 2009 Pro-Bowl selection was sidelined by injury last and recorded five sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and 20 tackles in 11 games. In his seven seasons Woodley has 57 sacks, five interceptions, three touchdown, 17 passes defended, nine forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries and 216 tackles. Woodley has been a key component of a consistent and outstanding Steelers defense over the last seven seasons…a defense, mind you, which has been the #1 defense in point allowed three times and the #1 defense in yards allowed five times in the last seven seasons.
On Friday the moves in Oakland continued to come together on the defensive side of the ball. Early that morning it was announce by Raiders insiders that defensive-end Antonio Smith is expected to sign. Little did they know they had other deals in the works as well.
First the team agreed to terms with cornerback Tarrell Brown who played his entire seven year career with the team across the bay the San Francisco 49ers. The 29 year-old Brown played in 13 regular-season games last season for the 49ers, starting in 10 games and also started in all three playoff games with the team. Last season the Raiders struggled in the secondary throughout the season he gives the Raiders the much needed upgrade at that position having 11 interceptions in his career. Look for him to work on the opposite side of D.J Hayden the 2013 first round pick come fall.
Later in the afternoon the Raiders locked up former Houston Texans defensive-end Antonio Smith for two-year $9 million deal. The 10 year veteran played five years with the Arizona Cardinals before joining the Texans where he spent the last five years. He's best know for his ninja sack dance in Miami. Last season with the Texas Smith had five sacks and one forced fumble.
This week only marks the beginning of free agency and for the Raiders there is still lots of work to do but for now it appears that they are right back on track.
Written By: Nic Amanno/Oren Shiri
Follow Nic on Twitter @ChicoAlum
Follow Oren on Twitter @NFLorentime
Be sure to like us on Facebook at NFL Draft Insiders for all your NFL and College Football news and information all season long.