Ultimately, the NFL is a business and each team has a calculated plan to enhance their chances at hoisting a Lombardy trophy. And it now appears as though one team’s aging veteran is another’s new defensive leader.
The Raiders are entering their third season under young head coach Dennis Allen, following two straight 4-12 seasons. The Raiders seem to consistently be a young team with poor leadership, rendering them ineffective and inconsistent for quite a few years now. Their approach to this offseason indicates they may be looking to add some veteran leadership to their young nucleus. The team has added numerous players over the age of 30 with signings such as Lamarr Woodley, Donald Penn, Charles Woodson, Antonio Smith, Matt Schaub and former Giants Kevin Booth and Justin Tuck.
Out of all the names mentioned above, Justin Tuck’s voice may reign the loudest in the locker-room as he has two super bowl rings to back anything he states. He was also one of the Raiders first major signings, signifying his importance to the Raiders coaching staff and ownership. Tuck recently joined in on a conference call with Levi Damien of Silver and Black Pride to discuss what he hopes to bring to Oakland both on and off the field.
“I think the assets that I bring to this team off the field are gonna be tremendous,” said Tuck. “Also, as far as leadership and just how I interact with the community and become integrated with Raider Nation and that's something that I'm looking forward to doing.”
Tuck filled the leadership role in Oakland almost immediately as he indicated in his reply when asked if he tried to recruit Woodley and Hatcher to join the Raiders.
"Absolutely. I already put my words in with both those guys and obviously they have decisions to make and hopefully we can get guys like that, guys that are used to winning and know what it takes to win and play good football will obviously help us rebuild this thing. So, yes I will be a recruiter."
That being said, the Raiders are not looking solely for leadership and recruiters. They need players that can perform on the pitch and they believe Tuck still has much to offer in that department as well. Dennis Allen made that quite clear Sunday as he was quoted as saying, “We’re not bringing in mascots or hood ornaments or whatever,” at the NFL owners meetings. “A lot of people ask me about veteran leadership. Let’s not confuse things here. I want guys that can play. We’re not bringing in guys just for leadership. We went out and got guys to can still be productive and also fill a leadership role.”
Tuck was certainly productive for the Giants last season, especially against the run, but was a shell of his former self in the pass rush department. He would occasionally get into the pocket but rarely finished the job unless he was playing the Washington Redskins. Look for Tuck to prove the Giants wrong in 2014, but also look for Jerry Reese to prove his decision was the right one as free agency comes to a close and the draft nears.
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