NFL

Raiders add more experience to defence with Smith, Brown

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The Canadian Press
3/14/2014 8:47:43 PM
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders added two more playoff-tested veterans to their rebuilding defence.

Oakland signed free agent defensive lineman Antonio Smith to a two-year, $9 million contract and cornerback Tarell Brown to a one-year, $3.5 million deal Friday.

The moves come a day after Oakland signed Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley to two-year deals to bolster the defensive line, giving Oakland four new defensive starters with experience of playing in the Super Bowl.

"I think it's a domino effect," Brown said. "I think anytime you bring in guys that have won a lot of games and have played in a lot of big games as well and have had a lot of success in this league, it definitely helps. We can kind of put things in perspective and guide younger guys in the direction of saying, 'Look, get under my wing and this is how you do it in the NFL to be successful."'

Oakland needs plenty of help on defence after showing promise early last season. The Raiders defence wilted late and allowed the second-most points per game (28.3) in franchise history. Oakland has had two of the three highest scoring seasons allowed in coach Dennis Allen's first two years with the franchise.

The Raiders could be without all four starting defensive linemen from last season with LaMarr Houston signing with Chicago and Vance Walker reaching a deal with Kansas City. Pat Sims and Jason Hunter are also free agents.

Oakland also has holes in the secondary with starting cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins and free safety Charles Woodson also free agents.

Brown will likely team with last year's first-round pick D.J. Hayden at cornerback. Hayden struggled his rookie season as he was recovering from a near fatal heart injury and missed the second half of the year with a sports hernia injury.

"I think he is a great talent, a guy with a lot of speed and has all the athletic ability and can play this game," Brown said. "I think the biggest thing for him is just to be around guys that can help mould him and bring him along and help him turn into a true professional -- learn how to study on and off the field and things of that sort. But he is definitely a good talent."

Brown, 29, spent the past seven seasons with the 49ers and made three trips to the NFC title game and one Super Bowl appearance. He started 42 games the past three seasons and has 11 career interceptions. He was rated the 25th best cover cornerback last year by Pro Football Focus.

Smith, 32, has played 10 seasons with Arizona and Houston, going to the Super Bowl following the 2008 season with the Cardinals and making two playoff trips with the Texans. He has 41 1/2 career sacks, including five last season as a defensive end in Houston's three-man front.

With Woodley and Tuck slated to play end in Oakland's four-man front, Smith will likely move inside where he is excited about the prospects of the new line.

"There is a commitment to get better, there is a commitment to try and make this defence a great defence," he said. "Both those guys are guys that I've watched over the years, especially Tuck, I've always kept my eye on him. I think he does a lot of the same things I do. I'm excited to be able to rush with him and work with him."

The Raiders also met with offensive tackle Donald Penn, who left town without signing a contract.

Antonio Smith (Photo: Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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