2:48pm: Nelson’s new two-year deal is worth $8.5MM, with an additional $3.5MM available in incentives, tweets Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. According to Volin, Nelson will get $4.25MM in guaranteed money, and his roster bonus for 2017 will become guaranteed if he plays 65% of Oakland’s defensive snaps in 2016.
THURSDAY, 12:30pm: The Raiders announced the deal.
The former Bengals safety who was one of the top free agents remaining on the market will fill a void created by Charles Woodson‘s retirement. As far as veterans go, the Raiders previously had only Nate Allen — whom they cut and re-signed to more team-friendly terms in March — and a host of inexperienced cogs at safety.
A 10th-year pro, Nelson is coming off his lone Pro Bowl berth after intercepting a league-high eight passes in 2015. He’ll join Bruce Irvin, Sean Smith and Aldon Smith as part of Oakland’s revamped defense this fall.
Nelson visited Oakland earlier this week but left the Bay Area without a deal in place, but the Raiders were in need of veteran assistance on their back line after Woodson’s retirement. The former Jaguars safety ranked as the No. 41 overall free agent on PFR’s Top 50 free agents list when the new league year began. Nelson will turn 33 in September.
Even with Woodson in the fold, the Raiders ranked 26th in defending the pass last season. Aside from Woodson, the team didn’t possess much experience at either corner or safety. Allen missed most of the season due to an MCL injury, and the Silver and Black was forced to rely on inexperienced contributors, converted cornerbacks or journeyman Taylor Mays alongside Woodson.
The Raiders entered Wednesday with $14.79MM in cap space after filling several of the voids that plagued their defense last season. Nelson has 30 career interceptions to his credit and has been a full-time starter since the Jaguars took him in the first round in 2007.
The Giants also had interest in Nelson, according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News (on Twitter), but nothing past the inquiry stage.
Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images