It's been a long free agency for Reggie Nelson. Much longer than anyone would expect for a player who tied for the league lead with 8 interceptions last season. In terms of production, it was Nelson's best NFL season at the age of 32.
Despite that fact, the Bengals weren't pushing hard to bring him back. Though they were said to be still interested late in the process. But in the end, they were unable to match the 2-year $12 million max deal the Raiders gave him. And after two days spent with Raiders coaches, he made the decision to leave where he had spent the last six years of his NFL career.
"I've been there for a while so of course it was kind of difficult and in other ways not," said Nelson of his decision. "I mean I like the direction the Raiders are headed in with Jack [Del Rio] and Reggie [McKenzie] and Mr Davis got it going and they're just scratching the surface and I want to be a part of that scratching that they got going on. It was a tough decision but I'm happy to be an Oakland Raider."
Spending the past month not knowing where he would be playing next season is unpleasant, though in this case necessary to find the right fit. That fit was reuniting with the coach who selected him out of Florida with the 21st overall pick in the 2007 draft.
"I was shocked," said Nelson of the lack of interest in his services. "I expected to be signed, but patience is a virtue. I was just staying patient and waiting on the right team, so that's when Oakland came and Jack was in Oakland so I felt comfortable coming back and just reuniting with him."
"I'm excited, man. I was a different dude when they drafted me (in Jacksonville). I'm a veteran now, wiser. I'm just excited to see what he's got going on in Oakland and just be a part of that. I love Jack and always have so I'm excited to be reunited with him."
No team in the league had more of a need at safety than the Raiders, so Nelson is a natural fit in Oakland.