Today the Raiders made their one and only free agent signing (so far) official. One of the questions about Newhouse was where he would be playing along the line for the Raiders.
Making just six starts in 10 appearances last season for the Giants, Newhouse wasn’t a big name on the market, but he and the Raiders saw a place for him in Oakland, signing with the team on a 2-year, $3.5 million deal.
“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 via conference call Monday. “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.”
The opening at right tackle comes primarily from the departure of former second round pick, Menelik Watson. The position is far from settled otherwise, and Newhouse joins Austin Howard and Vadal Alexander to compete for the job.
There is a Raiders connection to Newhouse. General Manager Reggie McKenzie was Director of Player Personnel in Green Bay when the Packers selected Newhouse in the 5th round of the 2011 draft.
His rookie season, Newhouse started 13 games, mostly at left tackle but some at right tackle as well. The following season, McKenzie took the job in Oakland while Newhouse became the Packers’ full time starting left tackle in his second season.
“I’m excited to see Reggie get his chance,” Newhouse continued. “He’s already shown what he’s capable of doing in leading a front office and we definitely have a rapport from Green Bay. He knows what I bring to table and he also knows that I’ve grown as a player since then. I was only 21 when I was there and I’m a few years older now, so I think it’s a mutually beneficial situation.”
After his second season, the 6-3, 325-pounder’s career took a downturn. He lost his starting tackle job in Green Bay, moved on to Cincinnati for one season, then to New York where he had a rough first season as the full time right tackle.
His second season, he saw just six starts at right tackle and left guard and, at least according to figures from Pro Football Focus, had improved considerably. I asked him what areas he focused on to improve his game in his sixth NFL season.
“One of the main things, it’s (seems like) kind of a small thing, but it’s a big thing is just changing my body makeup and being a leaner, better athlete, so I can compete for a higher level longer in the games and not let fatigue be as much of a factor,” Newhouse said candidly. “Then that goes into your technique stays solid, further into games and that’s usually when I was breaking down, it was a breakdown in technique. Just doing a lot of self evaluation and I was really honest with myself about what I need to improve and that was one of the things. I think that contributed to it and I had a good Oline coach in New York that helped me step my game up and I’m hoping for the same from [offensive line] coach [Mike] Tice.”
Tice is well respected among NFL circles. And for good reason. He has been a major factor in the construction and success of the Raiders offensive line over the past couple seasons. Being a part of that unit, which had three Pro Bowlers last season, is also exciting for Newhouse.
“I’m really excited,” Newhouse said of the Raiders offensive line. “Kind of a mix of old and young guys. Lots of talent and obviously when you’re protecting a quarterback as good as Derek Carr every lineman wants that opportunity, so all those things lined up and it was definitely a huge reason why I chose here.”
It can be a rare thing for a player such as Newhouse to get an opportunity at his desired position with a winning team on the rise, such as the Raiders. Jumping at the chance was a smart move by the 28-year-old lineman.