Raiders coach Hue Jackson said that the visit by veteran offensive tackle Jared Gaither on Friday is to gauge his health and see if he’s worth signing.
Several reports earlier this afternoon said that the Raiders had agreed to terms with Gaither, 6-feet-9 and 340 pounds. Gaither was at practice and spent considerable time with a team trainer and team doctor. He also broke free long enough to chat with Jackson and chief executive Amy Trask early on in practice.
“He’s just visiting me right now,” Jackson said. “I’ve known him from before. He’s here. We’re checking him out, obviously. We brought him in. We want to make sure that any guy is healthy before we ever decide to sign anybody.”
Gaither played mostly left tackle for the Baltimore Ravens the past four seasons, though he missed all of last season with a back injury. He also missed the final five games of the 2009 season with a foot injury. Jackson said he isn’t sure how Gaither would be used if he were signed by the Raiders.
“What we’ll do is we’ll make that decision after we find out if we are going to sign him, first,” Jackson said. “Then, two, we’ll put the best five linemen out there and put them wherever we need to put them. Obviously, I’ve been around Jared and know exactly what he is and if he is a part of our team, we’re going to play him wherever we think he will best fit for us.”
One thing is for certain: Jackson thinks rather highly of Gaither from the time they spent together with the Ravens.
“He’s a tremendous player,” Jackson said. “When he’s healthy, he’s one of the better left tackles in the league. He has extremely long arms, very tall, very long. He’s a good football player. Again, there’s a question of health, and we’re going to do everything that we need to do to make sure that we know exactly where he is.”
Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour recalled playing against Gaither and being impressed by what he saw.
“He is a big guy and we would love to have himm” Seymour said. “All the help we can get is welcome.”
Raiders linebacker Kamerion Wimbley squared off against Gaither plenty of times when Wimbley played for the Cleveland Browns. He, too, was impressed.
“He is a good player,” Wimbley said. “He is a physical player, has great feet and he can help this team out if he comes here. He has ability, and he has the tools to make it touch on his opponents. When you are trying to rush, his long arms definitely create space. He has the ability to reset and things like that. Quick hands, quick feet, strong guy. Those are the things you look for in an offensive tackle.”