Justin Tuck is headed cross-country after signing with the Oakland Raiders. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Giants, Tuck's team for his entire NFL career to this point, declined an opportunity to match or exceed the two-year, $11 million contract Tuck received.
After recording just nine sacks combined over the 2011 and '12 seasons, Tuck was en route to another disappointing output in 2013 until a stretch that saw him record seven sacks in three games (including four versus Washington). He finished the year with 11 sacks, his best number since 2010 and the third-highest of his career.
The Raiders were in search of pass-rushing help after allowing Lamarr Houston to leave for a contract with Chicago. Houston, four years Tuck's junior, led the Raiders with six sacks during the 2013 season. Oakland also reportedly is in contact with DE/OLB LaMarr Woodley, who was recently cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers in a salary-cap move.
Tuck's contract with the Raiders certainly is not off the charts, so the Giants' decision to let him depart after nine seasons -- six straight as a starter on the defensive line -- may be a commentary on what Tuck has left in the tank. New York did draft DE Damontre Moore in Round 3 last season, no doubt with an eye toward the possibility of losing Tuck at some point.
Even at less than his once-dominant form, Tuck represents a substantial upgrade for a gutted and undertalented Raiders front that included 2013 sixth-rounder Stacy McGee, 2012 fifth-rounder Jack Crawford and a collection of nondescript names.
The move for Tuck at least temporarily takes the focus off Oakland's frustrating and stunning situation with OT Rodger Saffold, who signed a massive contract with the team on Tuesday only to have that deal voided by a failed physical on Wednesday night. Oakland entered the offseason with more room free under the 2014 salary cap than any other franchise, so Tuck will claim a chunk of what was returned when Saffold's $42.5 million contract was negated.
Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie still has tons of work to do in improving his defense -- doubly true if he is counting on Tuck to be much more than a rotational piece at this stage of his career.
Grade: B-minus. At least it's something. And assuming that there are multiple additional moves to come along the defensive line, getting Tuck's experience and presence could wind up looking decent. The difficulty in weighing Tuck's impact is that his signing does not fall in line with an extensive roster rebuild, and he's not going to make enough of an impact to turn the tables on his own.