Raiders stack D-line with premier rushers

Forgive the Raiders, for now, as they’ve “shouldered” their recent issues with guard Rodger Saffold.

Taking place of the catastrophic day one free agent blunder is news of the positive variety. The Oakland Raiders signed two of the league’s best pass rushers, Lamarr Woodley and Justin Tuck.

Each will play defensive end, and each bring along the top prize in the NFL — a Super Bowl ring.

Oakland has been looking to beef up their pass rush, especially after losing Lamarr Houston in free agency.

The deals were sealed after coach Dennis Allen, McKenzie, and the two edge rushers got together for dinner Wednesday evening. Both Tuck and Woodley had been in Alameda for the better part of Wednesday, getting acquainted with the team.

Tuck’s signed a two-year deal worth up to $11 million, and Woodley, two years for up to $12 million.

After an 11-sack season in 2013, Tuck, via press release, said he is looking forward to bringing his experience to Oakland:

“The appeal is young talent needing leadership and the feel is just the opportunity to start fresh. Obviously, everyone knows I love the New York Giants and I appreciate nine years of my career being there…”

Over the last seven seasons, Tuck led the New York Giants Super Bowl victories in the 2007 and 2011 seasons. Though Eli Manning gets most of the credit, it’s well understood that Tuck and his work in the trenches had a whole lot to do with it.

Tuck said that he doesn’t want to stop there:

“Winning more Super Bowls (is something I’d like to accomplish). Everyone talks about once you turn 30, it’s all downhill. I don’t believe in that. I don’t look at myself in that regard.”

Woodley, who will be playing defensive end in Oakland’s 4-3 scheme, said that he’s excited to be here, adding:

“I’m not surprised to be here at all. From the moment I got off the plane. With the fans, the history of the team. … “With a few pieces, this can be a winning team.”

Woodley, 29 years old, has played outside linebacker in the Steelers 3-4 defense for the entirety of his career. On paper, his skills translate nicely into the 4-3. At six foot two, he isn’t as lengthy as the typical defensive end — but neither was Houston, at six foot three.

Woodley ranked as the seventh-best 3-4 outside linebacker according to Pro Football Focus and is eighth best in pass-rushing. In both of those categories, he scored higher than Houston. Woodley had five sacks in 2013.

Justin Tuck is a different story, spending his career as a 4-3 defensive end, long considered one of the best to ever do it.

Also 29 years old, Tuck’s 11 sacks in 2013 show that age hasn’t slowed him down. He too, placed well with Pro Football Focus — seventh overall — though they gave him a poor grade on chasing the quarterback.

Apparently they didn’t see his 11 sacks.

Tuck and Woodley’s most virtuous gift to Oakland might not have anything to do with statistics. It’s that they know what a championship team is — what it takes to be crowned king.

For a team entering it’s “construction phase,” that is very important.

Surely having Tuck and Woodley around could make coming to Oakland much easier for any defensive lineman, after all, it’s a rare opportunity to play next to a future Hall of Famer.


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