NFL: Former Buffalo Bills LB Zach Brown Visits Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders have already added two offensive players through free agency, but they may soon add some help on defense.

Former Buffalo Bills linebacker Zach Brown reportedly visited with the Raiders on Wednesday, an anonymous source confirmed to the Associated Press following an original report by NFL Network.

Oakland looks to fill a void at inside linebacker, which is one of its biggest needs this offseason. Former starter Malcolm Smith signed a free agent deal with the San Francisco 49ers last week. Perry Riley Jr. is also on the market as an unrestricted free agent, although he could still return.

The Raiders, who ranked in the bottom half of the league in most defensive categories in 2016, have needed to make some changes this offseason. Despite their struggles, however, Oakland still won 12 games and made the team’s first playoff appearance since 2002.

Brown is on the free agent market for the second consecutive offseason. The linebacker signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract with the Bills last year after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Tennessee Titans, who drafted him at No. 52 overall in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

The 27-year-old recorded a career-high 149 total tackles, as well as 4.0 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and an interception during his only season in Buffalo. Brown currently has 410 tackles, 14 sacks, and seven interceptions during his five-year NFL career.

Brown has experience playing inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, which conflicts with the Raiders’ base 4-3 alignment. However, Oakland has run plays out of both alignments, as well as five-man fronts.

Zach Brown Bills Tackles receiver

So far, Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie has placed his focus on offense after signing former New York Giants offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse and former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, a former All-Pro kick returner.

Newhouse, 28, told reporters that the vacancy at right tackle was a major factor in his decision.

“Free agency started and you see a lot of teams signing guys and my agent and I were kind of pinging back and forth and had a couple teams in play.” Newhouse said, per Silver and Black Pride. “He mentioned that the Raiders, coming off a great season, had an opening at right tackle and definitely my ears perked up. Things kind of started getting rolling and it ended up being a really good fit. So, I’m excited to be here.”

Former Raiders starter Menelik Watson signed with the Denver Broncos last week, which opened up room at right tackle. Oakland’s other options at tackle include Vadal Alexander, Denver Kirkland, and Austin Howard, who started in place of Watson during the majority of the season.

According to Pro Football Talk, Patterson, who signed with Oakland earlier this week, is guaranteed $5 million under his new contract, including a $2.5 million signing bonus and a $2.5 million guaranteed base salary. The 25-year-old’s contract also includes a $250,000 workout bonus for 2017.

“It’s just a feeling you wouldn’t understand until you’re back there when you get that ball in your hands,” Patterson said on a conference call with Bay Area media Tuesday.

“You’re nine yards deep in the end zone and you have those 10 guys in front of you who are going to block and give you their all… I’m willing to bring it out anytime I can. If the coach gives me the OK, I want to bring it out. I want to go somewhere and know that I can help on special teams. I feel like that’s my best in the game right there, so I want to go and help on special teams as much as I can and get this receiver stuff down pat.”

[Featured Image by Brian Bahr/Getty Images]