NFL Rumors: Reggie Nelson Leaving Cincinnati Bengals For Oakland Raiders

NFL rumors are swirling around Reggie Nelson. The 32-year-old safety is a free agent, and it appears that a new contract with the Cincinnati Bengals will not be happening. According to NBC Bay Area, Nelson is on the verge of signing with the Oakland Raiders. The rapidly rising Raiders were looking for someone to replace the recently retired Charles Woodson and solidify their secondary. The Pro Bowl veteran should be able to provide enough leadership and coverage skills to prevent a drastic drop off from last season.

Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has been a busy man. After his team surprised the NFL last season, McKenzie knew that he needed to keep the momentum going. In order to do that, Reggie needed to keep adding talent, much like he did when he built a foundation around Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, and Khalil Mack. The entrees are on the table, so McKenzie now needs to pick out the sides.

Oakland Raiders legend Charles Woodson
Charles Woodson [Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images]

One of the biggest tasks for Reggie McKenzie is finding a replacement for Charles Woodson, who walked away from the NFL after an incredible 18-year career. The Oakland Raiders know that they’re not going to be able to replace what Woodson meant to the franchise. No, they’re simply trying to find a replacement on the roster and on the field. Someone has to be out there, and the Raiders are hoping that it is someone who can contribute.

In Reggie Nelson, the Oakland Raiders are definitely getting someone who can contribute. Last season, Nelson tied for the NFL lead with eight interceptions. Quarterbacks started growing hesitant about throwing the ball towards his side of the field. Not only did Nelson have an effect on the passing game, the Florida native also contributed to the run defense. Reggie chipped in with 77 tackles, which is amazing for a cornerback.

Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio
Jack Del Rio [Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images]

Even though the Cincinnati Bengals allowed Reggie Nelson to walk, it doesn’t mean that he is damaged goods. The Bengals had the luxury of not allotting more salary cap space to Nelson because of the emergence of younger players like Shawn Williams and George Iloka. The two of them have earned the trust of Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Cincinnati is in good hands with Williams and Iloka growing in the secondary.

One of the things that led Reggie Nelson to the Oakland Raiders is his relationship with head coach Jack Del Rio. When Nelson first came into the NFL, it was with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Del Rio was the head coach for that franchise for nine seasons. He developed a working relationship with Nelson, and that helped the Raiders seal the deal.

Cincinnati Bengals safety George Iloka
George Iloka [Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images]

Once the contract is signed and sealed, Reggie Nelson will more than likely win one of the safety positions. Nate Allen, another veteran, is expected to be the other. The Oakland Raiders struggled mightily last season to cover the top tight ends in the NFL, and they’re hoping that Nelson can alleviate those issues. Not only is he adept at covering, Nelson is also a ball hawk. That reputation might cause quarterbacks to avoid throwing the ball over the middle of the field against the Raiders.

On paper, the Oakland Raiders look like a favorite to make it to the Super Bowl. They look even better with the addition of Reggie Nelson. The good news for long-suffering Raiders fans is that the team still has plenty of chances to get better. Not only do they still have salary cap space, they can also add even more talent through the upcoming NFL Draft.

[Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images]