The Raiders continued their busy Thursday by signing veteran safety Marcus Gilchrist to a one-year contract.
NFL Network first reported the news.
Gilchrist’s the first defensive free-agent addition of this offseason – there are a few more in the works – and should fit right into the starting lineup.
He’ll line up alongside Karl Joseph, with both players able to play back or in the box as a run player. Gilchrist is a versatile talent who can play slot cornerback in a pinch, or a hybrid linebacker role if called upon.
He rebounded well from an ACL tear late in the 2016 season, totaling 56 tackles, an interception, a sack, a forced fumble and six passes defensed in Houston. He allowed 18 receptions for 211 yards and a touchdown on 30 targets last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Gilchrist’s signing means the Raiders won’t have to rush 2017 second-round pick Obi Melifonwu into an important role. The talented, athletic UConn alum missed most of last year recovering from knee and hip injuries, missing key development time from training camp through the winter.
Melifonwu has potential to play both safety spots and could play corner if properly groomed, but was drafted by general manager Reggie McKenzie to cover tight ends and running backs. He could do that as a third safety, or something more if he earns a larger role. New defensive coordinator likes Melifonwu’s size and athleticism, but hasn’t yet spoken to where the second-year pro fits in his defense.
Gilchrist will bring veteran’s savvy to the back end, which still needs another cornerback (or two) to complete a secondary overhaul.