Underwood did not play in the NFL last season after being released by the Green Bay Packers during the 2011 preseason. This was due in small part to a number of off-field issues, including an episode involving a prostitute at a 2010 golf charity event and a domestic disorderly conduct incident with his ex-wife following a Super Bowl ring ceremony in 2011.
Weird. Sounds like the type of player that Al Davis would employ. But Davis has passed, hasn’t he?
The move comes on the heels of the Raiders’ recent release of cornerback Stanford Routt. That was the first step in Oakland’s project of shoring up a secondary that largely contributed to a franchise record 31 passing touchdowns in 2011.
Though much of the blame could be spread throughout the entire defensive unit, the defensive backfield shouldered much of the blame during the Raiders’ shameful disappearance from the playoff picture during the last few games of the season. Routt and his hefty $54.5 million contract were detoured out of Oakland as part of general manager Reggie McKenzie’s defensive rebuild.
Apparently, the next phase of the remodeling process is to sign a player who has not suited up for a single regular-season down since 2010. Furthermore, Underwood only has a couple of years under his belt, and in those two seasons, he played mostly on special teams, logging 16 tackles in 23 games played. That résumé doesn’t exactly match up to the numbers of the exited Routt, no matter how low he had set the bar last season.
When all is said and done, Underwood will not be the fix to the Raiders secondary. McKenzie will brainstorm with team’s new defensive-minded head coach Dennis Allen in evaluating potential ways to stabilize the secondary.
A name that thrown into the mix was veteran cornerback Shawntae Spencer, who was given permission by the San Francisco 49ers to seek a trade, according to ninersnation.com. Spencer saw marginal action last season, after falling down the depth chart in San Francisco’s stacked secondary.
It could be a seamless transition for Spencer to hop across the Bay and land in Oakland. The eight-year pro has significant NFL experience, having started 72 games in his career. The worn tread on his wheels may not excite teams, but the soon-to-be 30-year-old can provide solid nickel defense if he’s not tagged as a starter.
It’s an unlikely scenario, yes. But then again, who would have suspected the Raiders would pick up a special team player in Underwood?
So far, the first player acquisition of McKenzie’s tenure is a head-scratcher. But frivolity is just that—only the beginning. Here’s hoping the next signing is a big one.
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