Raiders hire Ken Norton Jr.

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders moved quickly to fill out their biggest vacancy on the coaching staff, hiring Ken Norton Jr. to be the team's defensive coordinator.

The move reunites Norton with Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio. The two men played together in three seasons in Dallas as part of the Cowboys' linebacker corps.

"We've always talked about being able to put my time and energy and knowledge together as well as his and really come together and make a winner," Norton said during a conference call Friday. "I have certain ideas that I have that I know that work. He has certain ideas that he has that he knows that work. We're going to bring them together and obviously make them the Raider way."

Norton had spent the previous five seasons working as the linebackers coach in Seattle. Because the Seahawks were still in the playoffs, the Raiders were unable to interview Norton until after the Super Bowl. Even then, Oakland had to seek permission from the Seahawks.

Del Rio met with Norton on Monday, and it didn't take long for the two sides to come to an agreement.

"I was really interested in just understanding what Coach Del Rio's plan was, what his idea was, the things he wanted to get done here in Oakland," Norton said. "I was very impressed with how he laid it out for me. I was very impressed with what he wanted to get done. He made it quite clear that I was someone that he needed to help him get this whole program to another level."

Norton replaces Jason Tarver, who spent three seasons as Oakland's defensive coordinator. Tarver was let go when Del Rio was hired in early January.

An 18-year NFL veteran who played on three consecutive Super Bowl-winning teams, Norton coached linebackers for six seasons at USC -- in 2009 he was promoted to assistant head coach -- before making the jump back to the NFL.

With Seattle, Norton was credited with helping in the development of linebackers Bobby Wagner, David Hawthorne and K.J. Wright.

Now he'll be taking over a defense that began to show signs of progress in 2014 but still needs plenty of work.

Del Rio had previously said he would be more involved in the play-calling of the defense if his coordinator didn't have much experience. Norton, however, made it sound as if he will get input from Del Rio but will call the defense himself.

"My philosophy combined with his philosophy, we're going to sit down in a room and just work it out and then make it the Raiders' philosophy," Norton said. "There hasn't been a formal discussion, but just in my early meetings with him, his plan is to continue to groom me, and I'll be making the calls."