The Oakland Raiders and Tuck have come to an agreement on a two-year, $11 million contract, the team announced on Thursday:
The Oakland Raiders have signed DE Justin Tuck.— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) March 13, 2014
ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported details on the agreement. Per Schefter, the nine-year veteran went to the Giants and attempted to get them to improve their offer on the table before jumping to Oakland.
It's unclear whether the Giants were willing to budge or what the exact details of their offer were, but it's clear Tuck never expected to leave New York.
"I did not see this coming, it wasn't on my radar," Tuck said of his move, per Vic Tafur of The San Francisco Chronicle. "But I am excited. I like the direction of this team and the history of the Raiders, and I just want to be a part of it."
New York Daily News reporter Ralph Vacchiano added more from Tuck:
When it was over, the Giants didn't even say good-bye.
There was no big send-off for Justin Tuck, no "Thanks for the memories" after nine stellar seasons. Just a phone call from his agent late Thursday afternoon to tell him the Giants wouldn't even come close to matching the offer he got from the Oakland Raiders. That, Tuck told the Daily News, "made up my mind for me" and left him feeling like the Giants "didn't really want me at all."
He said he went into the offseason "thinking I'd be a Giant for life" and willing to take considerably less money to make it happen.
But the offer he got from the Giants "was pretty much disrespectful to be honest with you" - approximately half of the two-year, $11 million deal he eventually signed.
"They wouldn't have had to match it," Tuck said. "You know, at the beginning of free agency I'm going in thinking I'm not looking for a lot. I understand the Giants have a lot of holes to fill. If they were trying to sign me before free agency hit, or at least were trying to communicate with us, then I probably would've took somewhere around a two-year deal, $8 million, somewhere around there.
"He said 'They didn't budge at all from their offer,'" Tuck said. "That pretty much made my mind up for me."
"Exactly," Tuck said. "That's the disrespect part. I don't want people to think I'm bad-mouthing the Giants. I'm not. I understand the business and I have so much gratitude for them giving me the opportunity to have my presence felt in New York and be the man I've become.
"I'm just frustrated with how it ended. I'm upset about it. But I'll move on and hopefully one day time will heal all wounds. Right now, I just don't understand a lot that's gone on and how they strung us along."
Chase Stuart of Football Perspective noted the unorthodox nature of negotiations:
So Justin Tuck basically came back to the Giants and said "Oakland will pay me this much, match it please?" and now he's a Raider.— Football Perspective (@fbgchase) March 13, 2014
Tuck, who turns 31 later this month, enjoyed a bit of a career renaissance in 2013. After combining for just nine sacks in 2011 and 2012, Tuck fell just one short of matching his career high with 11 takedowns. He was one of the biggest bright spots on a Giants defense that quietly had a strong campaign.
New York finished 18th in points allowed, but that stat was buoyed by the turnover-prone offense. The Giants were eighth in total yards, and Football Outsiders' DVOA metric ranked them sixth overall and fourth in weighted defense.
Nevertheless, Tuck was still the team's only consistent pass-rusher. Mathias Kiwanuka and Cullen Jenkins were the only other two defensive linemen who finished with five or more sacks, as the once-vaunted Giants pass rush finished tied for 25th league wide. After building its defensive reputation on a rotating cast of elite defensive linemen, New York has ranked 22nd or worse in sacks each of the last three seasons.
The Raiders hope Tuck will have a similar effect on their dilapidated defensive line. In part because of their inability to rush the passer, Oakland finished 30th in pass defense DVOA last season. The Raiders have also been a below-average pass rush from a sacks standpoint since 2010. No Oakland player has reached double-digit sacks since Derrick Burgess and Warren Sapp did so in 2006.
Tuck's arrival is predated by the departure of Lamarr Houston, who signed a five-year contract with the Chicago Bears on Tuesday. Houston doesn't have Tuck's reputation as a pass-rusher, but he's 26 years old, has a ton of potential and was a consistent help against the run.
Oakland can't possibly expect similar production from Tuck. He's a player who would be more effective as part of a defensive line rotation at this point than playing every down. More likely, he will return to single-digit sacks and move back toward the middle tier rather than being a two-way menace.
That said, even if he's a little less effective than last season, the Raiders could use good news. Their big signing of the early portion of free agency, offensive lineman Rodger Saffold, went back to the Rams on a five-year deal after he and Oakland disagreed on his physical results, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Barring a similar situation playing out with Tuck, his career with the Giants is over. It will be interesting to see whether he can reignite the defensive line or if he'll be just the latest in a long line of high-profile players whose late-career period fizzled in Oakland.
Follow Tyler Conway on Twitter: