Buchanan to play at free safety for Oakland
For 11 NFL seasons, Ray Buchanan proudly carried the name "Big Play Ray" for his ability to make plays at cornerback.
Buchanan made it official on Monday, signing with the Oakland Raiders to bolster their defense.
On Friday, Buchanan agreed to a five-year, $12 million deal with the Raiders to be a free safety first and cornerback if needed.
Because Oakland has only about $125,000 in available cap funds, the team must clear some salary cap room before it can officially sign Buchanan to a contract, which officials told ESPN.com would be completed next week.
It's fitting he would sign with the Raiders, who seem to relish signing long-time veterans. Buchanan hinted of his desire to play in Oakland after the Atlanta Falcons released him last month. He visited the Raiders on Friday after attending the NFL Players Association Annual Meeting in Hawaii and was ready to sign immediately.
"I wanted to find a team that has some loyalty," Buchanan said. "There is a lot of history and a lot of background with the Raiders. I was excited about it. I walked out of the building wearing a Raider hat with the shield on it. It's a great feeling."
Oakland already features a pair of top-shelf cornerbacks in "franchise" player Charles Woodson and emerging star Phillip Buchanon (no relation). Other cornerbacks on the roster include Nnamdi Asomugha, the Raiders' first-round pick in 2003, along with journeyman veterans Clarence Love and Ike Charlton.
At free safety, Buchanan believes he has a chance to get back into making big plays. He has 46 career interceptions, but only three over the past two seasons in Atlanta. By mid-season, he'd lost his starting position, though the Falcons were using him a little at safety.
"I have a goal and my goal is to get double-digit sacks for a team," Buchanan said. "I think that could happen at free safety."
By signing Buchanan, the Raiders gain flexibility. Rod Woodson could retire if his knee isn't right. And there is the possibility of Charles Woodson, an unsigned franchise player, holding out.
"I give them a lot of flexibility because I can play safety, but if they need me, I can go out on the edge and play corner, too," Buchanan said. "They can use me in the slot to cover. My hands are not tied."
The former Louisville star has 723 career tackles and an amazing 170 passes defensed. Buchanan has at least one interception every year in the NFL and seven times has had four or more pickoffs.
He began his career with Indianapolis in 1993 as a third-round draft choice. After four seasons with the Colts, he signed with Atlanta as a "transition" free agent in 1997 and was chosen for the Pro Bowl in 1998.
Senior writers Len Pasquarelli and John Clayton, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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