The Raiders need a safety. Pretty bad, in fact.
The NFL Draft could provide a long-term option, though veterans could help out right away. The Raiders are trying to reel one in this week.
Former Cincinnati Bengals free safety Reggie Nelson is scheduled to visit the Raiders facility, a league source confirmed on Monday morning. Nelson's visit is expected on Tuesday.
ESPN first reported the news.
If all goes according to plan, Nelson will sign with the Raiders and add talent and experience to a thin position group.
Nate Allen and Brynden Trawick are the only options under contract, with cornerback TJ Carrie able to join that herd if necessary.
That isn’t enough. Head coach Jack Del Rio said the Raiders would address that position this offseason.
The Raiders expressed interest in Nelson shortly after free agency opened, but the 32-year old didn’t sign with anyone during that active period. His age might’ve created a weak market, despite the fact Nelson had an excellent season in 2015.
He led the NFL with eight interceptions. He also had 78 tackles and 14 passes defensed primarily as a free safety.
Nelson has a connection with Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio. Jacksonville selected Nelson No. 21 overall in the 2007 draft, when Del Rio was the Jaguars' head coach. The two were together in Jacksonville for three seasons. He struggled during that period, but flourished during the last six seasons in Cincinnati.
He has 12 interceptions in the last two seasons and 30 picks in his career. Nelson could be an excellent option in the backfield, supporting tall outside cornerbacks David Amerson and Sean Smith. The Raiders were reliant on Charles Woodson in deep coverage, and Nelson could help bridge a gap to a younger, longer-term option.
Allen was released earlier this offseason and re-signed to a one-year deal. He has starter’s quality, but missed most of last season with knee injuries. Trawick is primarily viewed as a special teams player. Carrie played safety last year after Allen went down. He fared well in that spot, but is a career cornerback.