Oakland Raiders Getting Ducks In A Row Ahead Of NFL Draft

Sep 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Aldon Smith (99) against the Baltimore Ravens at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Aldon Smith (99) against the Baltimore Ravens at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Oakland Raiders are getting their ducks in a row and addressing a couple of needs as the Draft approaches, already signing one veteran player and bringing in a second for a visit.

More from Bay Area Sports

Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie has had quite an offseason haul, landing prized free agents Bruce Irvin, Kelechi Osemele, and Sean Smith, as well as retaining some of his own. He’s said that his big spending for the offseason is probably over, but word now comes that he’s not quite done tinkering with the final product – which is a good thing since the Raiders still have a couple of needs to address.

Word broke on Monday that McKenzie is addressing a need for another pass rusher by working out a deal with the currently suspended Aldon Smith. It’s reported to be a two year deal, but the financials haven’t been released just yet.

The re-signing of Smith comes as little surprise – but a welcome bit of news for Raiders fans anyway. Having recorded 44 sacks over the first fifty fames of his career (making just 30 starts), the San Francisco 49ers cut him loose after a series of off the field incidents that led to multiple arrests, a stint in rehab, and a long suspension.

The Raiders were there to scoop Smith up and welcome him in with open arms, despite the fact that they knew a suspension was likely. But the team provided the structure, positive environment, and leadership he so desperately needed – something Smith noted in comments made to reporters after the team signed him last season.

Smith played in nine games for the Raiders last season, making seven starts. He registered just 3.5 sacks, but the more comfortable he got in DC Ken Norton Jr.’s system, the better he became – and the better he helped Khalil Mack become as well. Together, the pair wreaked havoc, combining for nine sacks, 62 hurries, and eight quarterback hits before Smith was forced to shut it down when the league leveled its one year suspension.

He’s not eligible for reinstatement until November, so the fact that McKenzie is giving him a two year deal shows that the team has a lot of appreciation for – and faith in – Smith’s ability to come back and be the sort of player this team and the locker room needs.

When he does return, a front seven that will include him, Mack, Irvin, and hopefully Mario Edwards Jr. is going to be an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses.

In another bit of very welcome news, McKenzie and the Raiders are addressing their glaring need for help at the safety spot by bringing in Reggie Nelson for a visit. Though no deal has been struck just yet, it’s believed that it’s just a matter of time and formality. Once Nelson passes his team physical, it’s expected that he’ll don the Silver and Black, helping shore up a secondary that needed some help at the position with the retirement of Charles Woodson.

At 32 years old, Nelson obviously figures to be a stopgap measure for a season or two – somebody to hold down the fort until they can get a younger body primed and ready for action. But if the signing goes through as expected, the Raiders will be adding a very good, very key piece to their defense – arguably, the best safety who was on the open market this offseason.

More from Golden Gate Sports

Nelson has started every game the last two seasons for the Bengals, and over his nine year career, has proved to be pretty durable. Last season, Nelson amassed 72 tackles, two fumble recoveries, 14 passes defensed, and had an NFL leading eight interceptions.

Teamed with Nate Allen in the defensive backfield, Nelson would give the Raiders an experienced pair of ballhawk, and along with David Amerson and Sean Smith on the corners, will give Oakland a potent and formidable secondary overall – something the team lacked last season.

McKenzie may be done with the big spending, but he’s obviously not done adding pieces and fine tuning the roster ahead of the draft. The re-signing of Smith and the likely signing of Nelson plug some key pieces into the puzzle and help get their ducks in a row – which may help solidify the team’s draft board as certain needs may have changed.

Next: Latavius Murray Overrated, Must Replace Him Now

McKenzie is building a highly formidable team and one that people will not be able to take lightly in 2016. With an offense that can be explosive and a defense that – as its shaping up – could become dominant, the Raiders are going to be a team to be reckoned with.