ALAMEDA, Calif. – NaVorro Bowman will make a short move following his release from the San Francisco 49ers after signing a one-year, $3 million contract with the Oakland Raiders on Monday.
Bowman visited the Raiders on Monday and then signed the deal shortly after that. He went right into meetings with the assistant coaches and could be ready to play when the Raiders (2-4) host the first-place Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.
“He’s a veteran guy. He’s played a lot of good ball over the years,” coach Jack Del Rio said. “We’re excited to have him. We’re a little green at the linebacker position. To add somebody with the experience that he has, we think it’s a nice addition for us and we’ll get him up to speed and we’ll see how quickly we can get him on the field.”
Bowman was released on his request last Friday after seven-plus seasons with the 49ers. San Francisco had tried to trade him but ended up releasing him instead so Bowman could pick his next team.
He is joining a team that needs some help after four straight losses have turned the Raiders from a potential Super Bowl contender into a last-place team.
Bowman brings a veteran presence to Oakland’s young linebacker group that started rookie Marquel Lee and second-year player Corey James for most of the year. Undrafted rookies Nicholas Morrow and Xavier Woodson-Luster got most of the snaps in Sunday’s 17-16 loss to the Chargers with Lee out with an ankle injury and James limited to seven snaps by a sore knee.
The decision on whether Bowman plays this week will depend on how quickly he learns the defense as well as the health of the other linebackers.
Bowman was once one of the top inside linebackers in the league, earning first team All-Pro honors four times, achieving it from 2011-13 and then again in 2015 after coming back from a devastating knee injury. Bowman then tore his Achilles tendon early last season and missed most of the year before coming back again this year.
While he lacks some of the speed he had when he was younger, Bowman still can help a team at age 29 with his play on the field and leadership skills.
“Very impressive young man to me,” Del Rio said. “Kind of a man’s man. He’s been a tough player, been part of a really good defense for his entire career. Had a chance to talk a little bit today and talk about the veteran leadership that would be nice to have, so he’s here.”
Bowman started the first five games of the season with the 49ers, recording 38 tackles and one pass defensed. He had been upset about being taken out for stretches of games after being an every-down player most of his career.
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