It looks like the Raiders are interested in an old foe.
As reported by the National Football Post, a league source has indicated that the Oakland Raiders have inquired of the services of 11-time Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks.
Brooks, who has spent his entire 14-year NFL career in Tampa Bay, was released earlier in the offseason despite being the stalwart face of the Buccaneers’ franchise over the past decade. The move was prompted by a regime change in Tampa and the team’s growing concerns over Brooks' age (he'll be 36 at the start of the season) and durability.
Last season, Brooks played in all sixteen games and made his eleventh Pro Bowl, despite being slowed by nagging injuries and collecting a career low 73 total tackles.
Since being released, Brooks has maintained his desire to play this upcoming season, and although he’s looking forward to signing with a team, he asserts that it's got to be the right fit for both sides.
Last month, in an article by Jim Henry with the Fanhouse, Brooks said, "me never being in this position before, I just have to practice patience. I continue to be patient. Teams that I’ve talked to obviously have a plan about how they want to go if something happens with their teams. And, as far as signing me, I have to be respectful of their plans. I really am."
Thus far, the one team that has made the most news in regards to pursuing Brooks has been the New Orleans Saints. The Saints are looking to provide depth at linebacker, following the news of veteran Mark Simoneau going down with a torn triceps.
For the Raiders, the numbers aren't so much of an issue as quality depth. Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard are slated as the starters at middle linebacker and on the weak side, respectively. On the strong side, Jon Alston has been sidelined with a foot injury, so rookie Slade Norris has been getting time with the first team thus far.
From Brooks' perspective, the Raiders don't make much sense as a possible destination. Too small to play on the strong side, Brooks' skills are prototypical for the weak side linebacker, but Thomas Howard has established himself as more than capable as he heads into his fourth year in the league. While it’s hard to keep a player of his caliber off the field, Brooks is looking for more assured playing time.
From the Raiders' prospective, Brooks is a future Hall of Famer and a respected veteran presence who would provide great depth in a role that would maximize his durability.
Head Coach Tom Cable, who has been all-business in his approach this offseason, would surely welcome Brooks' veteran presence as an example for his young team.
Although it is yet unclear as to how interested the Raiders are in the veteran linebacker, it will be interesting to see if Brooks reciprocates any such interest.