A four-game losing streak is grounds for reinforcements apparently.
The Oakland Raiders have reportedly agreed to a one-year deal worth $3 million with former San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman, according to a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Linebacker Tyrell Adams has been cut to make room on the roster.
Bowman was released by the 49ers last Friday. The rebuilding team had attempted to trade him but found no takers, mostly due to his contract. They instead cut him outright so he could have free reign over where he went. The 49ers will owe him somewhere in the vicinity of $11 million in guarantees.
It’s a shrewd move by the Raiders, who are currently in a tailspin following a 2-4 start, the lowest point coming during yesterday’s loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Their linebackers have struggled at times this season, mostly in coverage. Starter Marquel Lee was out with an ankle injury, and his counterpart Cory James had to play through a knee injury.
Bowman, however, won’t solve the team’s issues right away. He’s mainly a two-down linebacker at this stage of his career, partly due to a brutal injury history of his own. He tore both his MCL and ACL during the 2013-14 playoffs, which caused him to miss the following season. He suffered a torn right Achilles last October as well.
The fact that Bowman has been able to play following misfortunes like those is a testament to his character. Unfortunately, it’s affected his on-field play. His run defense is still solid, but his pass coverage has been noticeably poorer. The Raiders current stable of linebackers can already perform up to what Bowman offers.
Still, the group is extremely young (Lee, Nicholas Morrow and Xavier Woodson-Luster are all rookies, James is in his second year and Adams is in his third), so the veteran leadership that Bowman can provide is definitely a positive. He’ll get to stay in the Bay Area as well.
More than anything though, the Raiders needed a spark. Their current losing streak threatens to derail the rest of 2017, and someone with playoff experience like Bowman could help turn things around. He probably won’t get significant playing time in Thursday night’s divisional showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs, but he could pay dividends later on this year.