San Francisco

Raiders Talking With Ex-Chiefs Linebacker

Longtime Kansas City standout Derrick Johnson, now a free agent, could be an option for the Raiders if they decide NaVorro Bowman is too expensive

This offseason, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has repeatedly said the team is open to re-signing veteran linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

But Bowman remains a free agent – even though the former 49ers All-Pro made the Raiders a significantly better defense after he joined the team during the 2017 season.

Bowman, who just turned 30, played 10 games for the Raiders after being released by San Francisco, and was in on 89 tackles, had 1.5 sacks and an interception.

Yet on Thursday, the Raiders will be taking a look at another veteran, former Chiefs star Derrick Johnson, in a visit to team headquarters. Though Bowman is five years younger than Johnson, it’s Johnson, who spent 13 years in Kansas City, who’s on the Raiders’ radar this week.

Kevin Patra of noted Johnson’s level of play has declined the past couple of years. Still, he had 71 tackles last season.

Patra wrote the Raiders could truly be interested in bringing in Johnson for his knowledge, leadership and AFC West experience “or, more cynically, perhaps using the visit to squeeze NaVorro Bowman to take less money to return.”

Recently, Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group wrote that Bowman and the Raiders have been taking their time and waiting for the market to settle to decide what to do. McDonald says Bowman still believes he’s an every-down inside linebacker and wants to be paid like one after having a fine 10 games with Oakland last season. McKenzie doesn’t want to overpay.

“McKenzie has a figure in mind, and he’s not going to stray from it,” wrote McDonald. “Bowman is waiting to see if someone still sees him as an every-down player and will pay him that way. If that offer materializes, Bowman will walk. If it doesn’t, McKenzie will wait until Bowman says yes.”

Or, the Raiders could sign Johnson to a short-term deal and move on.

At this point, the younger Bowman seems a better option. We should soon find out if McKenzie and head coach Jon Gruden believe that, too.

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