LaMarr Woodley joins Justin Tuck on Oakland Raiders defense
The Oakland Raiders opened Thursday with a who's who of no-names scattered along their defensive line. They'll end it with two players boasting a combined 117.5 career sacks holding down the edges.
Hours after inking Justin Tuck to a two-year deal, the Raiders struck another two-year contract with former Steeler LaMarr Woodley, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Woodley's deal carries a max value of $12 million -- $1 million more than what Tuck could earn.
Woodley was a Pro Bowler in 2009 on a 13.5-sack season. All told, the 29-year-old Woodley nabbed 35 sacks from 2008-10, as he emerged as a menace at outside linebacker in Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense. Oakland has used more of a 4-3 scheme, so it will be interesting to see if it transitions to more multiple looks now or simply drops Woodley in as a straight-up defensive end. At an athletic 6-foot-2 and 265 pounds, that transition may not involve many growing pains.
How much does the Woodley-Tuck combo have left in the tank? Tuck closed 2013 strong, perhaps encouraged by his looming need for a new contract, but had struggled to produce for two-plus seasons prior to that outburst. Woodley, meanwhile, has just nine sacks combined over the past two seasons and has missed 14 games since the open of 2011.
It goes almost without saying that Oakland had to add talent -- any talent -- to its defense this offseason, even if it meant worrying about alignments and positioning later. The Raiders have done that with both Tuck and Woodley.
Grade: B-plus. Woodley may have to adapt to a slightly new position if Oakland sticks with the 4-3, but that should not hold him back too much. As with the Tuck signing, the money is extremely manageable, especially for a team with as much cap space as the Raiders have. Woodley should have at least a couple strong years left, assuming he gets a little help on the Raiders' defense. This is a better signing than the Raiders' move for Tuck. Together, those additions could add a substantial amount of oomph to an Oakland defense that has been without much.