Ellis to Oakland is a surprise

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

I'm a little surprised former Dallas sack star Greg Ellis plans to sign with the Raiders.


I've been following Ellis since Dallas cut him a couple of weeks ago when the team couldn't find a trade partner. I was mostly keeping tabs on whether Ellis might end up in Denver or Kansas City. Both of those teams are transitioning to a 3-4 defense and are in dire need of a legitimate pass-rusher. Ellis played in a 3-4 scheme with the Cowboys.

Yet, he decided to sign with Oakland for three years. The Raiders are the only team in the AFC West to use a 4-3 defense. Ellis will move back to defensive end from outside linebacker. He has 77 career sacks in 11 seasons. Ellis, who turns 34 in August, had eight sacks for Dallas last season.

In addition to schematic reasons, the move is a surprise because Oakland already has many pass-rushers, including promising second-year player Trevor Scott, and the Raiders drafted three defensive ends in April. The signing of Ellis is another sign that Derrick Burgess could be traded.

Ellis' signing is not a bad move by Oakland. Sacks are precious and if Ellis can provide another six to eight sacks this season, Oakland's defense will be better for it. He may be nearing the end of his career, but his eight sacks in 2008 show he is not done yet. This isn't a defense-changing move by Oakland, but it won't hurt the team.

Ellis is the second aging former Pro Bowl player Oakland has signed in a month. It added fullback Lorenzo Neal in May. Thus, Al Davis' love affair with veterans continues.