Whenever there’s a player who becomes a free agent whether by his contract being up or his release, there are fans who would like the team sign that player. That is especially true for a former 4-time All Pro who is still in his 20s such as NaVorro Bowman.
The missing part of that equation is mutual interest. The team can be plenty interested, but there are two sides to this. If there are other teams interested as well and the player likes that spot better, the Raiders’ interest doesn’t matter.
For Bowman’s part, on Monday he had two visits lined up — Oakland and Dallas. Oakland was first naturally because it’s closer. He never made the trip to Dallas.
“I planned to go to Dallas, but I didn’t make it on the plane,” said Bowman. “A lot of things went into it, but the Raiders really showed how much they wanted me to be here. I couldn’t ask for a better situation than what I’m in right now.”
The benefits to his situation in Oakland are multi-fold.
On the field, it’s simple — they need him. Badly. They didn’t have a viable option at middle linebacker going into the season. And when they lost Marquel Lee to an ankle injury, that only heightened the immediacy of that need. Cory James has been great, but he’s best suited as a weakside linebacker.
Their need may have played into sweetening the contract. Bowman will receiver $3 for ten games of service. And should he prove to be the answer at the position, the Raiders would have a leg up in retaining his services.
Bowman knows that he isn’t just a contingency plan in Oakland. He will have his opportunity to prove himself again after two major knee injuries since 2015.
He said of why he is a good fit with the Raiders; “I’m only 29 years old and I still have a lot of juice left in me, that’s why.”
Off the field, it’s another former 49er making an easy cross-bay trip. He won’t have to uproot his family.
“My twin girls are five and my son is eight and they’re in school,” said Bowman. “They’re doing really well so you always want to keep that going as a parent. You don’t want to keep switching them in and out. That played a big part in what I was going to do. For the Raiders to show as much enthusiasm in wanting me to come here made my decision a lot easier.”
Coming to a new team midseason is never ideal. But for the Raiders, this week in particular is tough because they happen to be on a short week as they prepare to face the division rival Chiefs Thursday night.
“A lot of hours,” Bowman said of his efforts to play Thursday. “A lot of studying, a lot of repeating the same words and things like that. It’s part of being a good football player. You have to put the time in. it doesn’t come easy. I’m the guy to do it. I won’t let them down. I’ll put the work in that’s needed to be done.”
Will he play on such short notice? He said he’s going to give it a shot, adding “Hey, I’m going to show you something.”