The Oakland Raiders made another move to address their defensive front, signing veteran defensive tackle John Henderson to a one-year deal on Friday.
Henderson (6-7, 335) spent his first eight seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he teamed with Marcus Stroud for six seasons to form one of the league’s best defensive tackle duos.
Henderson, 31, is a two-time Pro Bowler and has recorded 329 and 29 sacks in 124 games played. Although he is past his prime, he is still a very capable defender against the run—an area where the Raiders have struggled mightily for the past seven seasons.
The Raiders have made a calculated effort in proving their defensive front, particularly against the run. In the draft, the team selected middle linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive tackle Lamarr Houston with their first two picks. Houston, however, has been playing at the strongside defensive end position through mini camp and the team’s offseason training activities.
Veteran defensive tackle Gerrard Warren was released earlier in the offseason, leaving a significant lack of depth on the interior line. The team placed a franchise tag on Richard Seymour, but the two sides are still in the process of working on a long term deal. Before the signing of Henderson, the Raiders had six defensive tackles on the roster, but only Tommy Kelly and Desmond Bryant saw any action in 2009.
The Raiders have been unusually passive in their offseason moves of late. Henderson’s signing is thus far the biggest move the Raiders have made. He will likely be slated to start alongside Kelly in the Raiders’ defensive front, but has the ability to play on the edge in a 3-4 alignment—something the Raiders might experiment with for the 2010 season.
Henderson was released by the Jaguars in late April, after the team used their first round pick in the 2010 draft on California defensive tackle Tyson Alualu. He had signed a six-year, $34 million contract extension with the Jaguars in 2006.
The terms of Henderson’s one-year deal are yet unknown and the Raiders have yet to officially acknowledge the signing on their website.