The Las Vegas Raiders have been early-morning free agency strikers thus far.
For the second straight day, the team has struck contracts before dawn. Wednesday, NFL Media reported that the Raiders are signing Chicago Bears defensive tackle Bilal Nichols.
#Bears DT Bilal Nichols is expected to sign with the #Raiders, sources say. He gets a 2-year deal worth $11M with $9M guaranteed. The starter had a career year in 2021 and now cashes in.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 16, 2022
Early Tuesday morning, the Raiders signed Cincinnati Bengals backup cornerback and returner Darius Phillips. At first glance, it appears Nichols, 6-foot-3, 302 pounds, may have a bigger role than Phillips.
Nichols, who turns 26 in September, has been a solid if not spectacular performer for Chicago. The scouting report on him is that he is a high-effort player who will not make a lot of mistakes, but he may not take many games over, either.
The Delaware product does have a nice inside pass-rush burst at times. He had three sacks in 2021 and five sacks in 2020. He has started 31 games in the past two seasons combined and he had a combined 91 tackles the past two seasons. He played 64 percent of the snaps for the Bears inn 2021. He was in Chicago with new Las Vegas assistant general manager Champ Kelly.
He will likely be a top-of-the-rotation player for Las Vegas. The Raiders are likely not done adding at the position. Johnathan Hankins, Solomon Thomas, Quinton Jefferson and Darius Philon are all free agents for Las Vegas.
Defensive tackle is still a top target for the Raiders to use at No. 22 in the first round of the April 28-30 draft.
Fans have been waiting for the Raiders to start making some moves. Maybe this solid addition will kick start a busy Wednesday of activity for Las Vegas.