Raiders recap: Frenetic day of free agency ends with 6 signings

Updated March 15, 2018 - 8:30 pm

OAKLAND, Calif. — A wild day filled with rapid-fire signings officially became a handful Thursday when the Raiders announced at 5:53 p.m that safety Marcus Gilchrist was their fifth addition.

Twenty-five minutes later, coach Jon Gruden appeared on a video posted to the team’s Twitter account.

“”It’s getting dark, but we ain’t done yet,” Gruden said. “You watch.”

Former Detroit Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead capped a frenetic Thursday, signing a three-year contract for more than $6 million annually, a source said.

One day. Six signings. The pace was such that one source characterized the morning wait for player physical exams as hours-long.

Wide receiver Jordy Nelson was the headliner. Tight end Derek Carrier first agreed to his deal Tuesday.

Here are the other four.

Backfield

Weeks of talk turned into action.

Running back Doug Martin finally became a Raider, signing a reported one-year contract. There was known mutual interest between the two sides, as Gruden at one point met with Martin this month. The team also added a fullback, Keith Smith, who figures to be a core contributor on special teams.

Martin, 29, had an uneven six-year tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In two seasons (2012 and 2015), he exceeded 1,400 rushing yards. In the other four, he failed to reach 500. Production correlated with health, as those banner years were his lone 16-game campaigns.

He is a physical runner with limitations in the passing game, more in the mold of Marshawn Lynch than reserves Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington.

Smith, a converted linebacker, spent his college career at San Jose State before four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. Most of his NFL work has come on special teams; he’s logged 544 snaps there compared to 263 on offense and 41 on defense. He’s totaled eight carries for 46 yards and two catches for 5.

Rich Bisaccia, now the Raiders’ special teams coordinator, held the role in Dallas from 2013 to 2017.

Defense

The Raiders added two starters on defense.

Whitehead and Gilchrist will provide a needed veteran presence in their respective position groups. The versatile Whitehead will start somewhere at linebacker, a spot that benefited from NaVorro Bowman’s midseason arrival in 2017. Gilchrist is projected to start opposite safety Karl Joseph.

Soon enough, the team must add a cornerback. It’s known to have interest in Rashaan Melvin, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts. Ex-defensive end Tank Carradine visited the team Thursday but did not sign, a source said. He’ll visit the Seattle Seahawks on Friday.

Whitehead has spent all six years of his NFL career with the Lions. Predominantly a reserve those first two seasons, he has started 55 games since 2014. The run stopper was credited with 389 tackles, four interceptions and five forced fumbles in Detroit.

Gilchrist is on his fourth team in as many years.

In 2017, he started 13 of 16 games for the Houston Texans. He previously was the New York Jets for two years following a four-season stint with the Chargers in San Diego.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

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