ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) – The Oakland Raiders added another new starter to their defense, signing former Philadelphia safety Nate Allen to a four-year contract on Thursday to fill the hole created when Tyvon Branch was released.
General manager Reggie McKenzie has been busy to start the free agency period, having already added new starting defensive tackle Dan Williams and middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, as well as linebacker Malcolm Smith, to a defense that allowed the most points in the NFL last season.
With a new defensive-minded coach in Jack Del Rio, an energetic coordinator in Ken Norton Jr. and plenty of money to spend, the Raiders have already made some upgrades this offseason.
“I just fell in love with everything and the direction that the organization is going and the coaching staff they brought in and the group of guys that we have here,” Allen said. “It’s a great thing and like I’ve been saying, we’re planning on winning now. We’re not trying to rebuild and try to do this or do that, we’re trying to make something happen now, this year.”
The Raiders have won just 11 games the past three seasons and have gone 11 straight years without a playoff berth or winning record. But they hope that improvements in free agency, which also include the additions of starting center Rodney Hudson, running back Roy Helu and blocking tight end Lee Smith, will help turn their fortunes.
The Raiders had interest in signing Allen last offseason but he ended up staying in Philadelphia when he was only offered a one-year deal. Oakland went after him again this offseason and got him locked up with the long-term deal.
“I had always known there was interest there, and then this year, right when free agency started up, they were there again, knocking,” Allen said. “The interest has always been there and I just needed to come out here and visit and see what was going on. I fell in love with everything out here.”
Allen said he was excited to play for secondary coaches Marcus Robertson and Rod Woodson, who were both All-Pro players at the position in their careers.
Allen also was attracted by the opportunity to play alongside Charles Woodson. The two had lunch Wednesday during Allen’s visit with the team.
“Just to be able to work alongside a dude like that, I mean I couldn’t ask for a better situation,” he said. “He’s been around the game for what, 18 years now? This is his 18th year, so he’s seen just about everything and been through just about everything so I just feel like I have a lot that I can learn from him.”
Allen started 69 games in five seasons after being picked by Philadelphia in the second round in 2010. He has experience playing both strong and free safety.
He had 10 interceptions, 28 passes defensed, four sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries with the Eagles. Allen had a career-high four interceptions last season.