Linebacker Perry Riley Jr.
Perry Riley Jr. needed a new football home, and now he has one in Oakland, and even better, that new home has a familiar face already living in it.
After being released by the Washington Redskins in August, the veteran linebacker spent the first four games of the 2016 regular season without a team, but Tuesday he officially inked a free agent deal with the Oakland Raiders.
A big reason he elected to sign with the Silver and Black? The presence of outside linebacker and childhood friend Bruce Irvin.
"He [Irvin] was the main reason," said Riley. "When my agent called and said the Raiders, I said, 'if Bruce is there, I'm all-in.' The numbers were adding up right, so here I am."
Both Irvin and Riley hail from Atlanta, and have known each other since they were kids, but now the pair won't have to hop on a plane for a visit – their lockers are now just four spaces apart in the Raiders locker room.
"We're the same age," Riley said. "We grew up from 4th grade on up. We've known each other every year, and we've [gone] from rivals when we were younger, to best friends as we got older, and now we're still just best friends, so it's good to be back with him."
Since he joined the Raiders in March, Irvin has been outspoken about recruiting players to join the Silver and Black, even earning the friendly moniker "Baby Reggie," because of his work.
However, even with another successful pitch to a free agent in the books, don't expect Riley to start calling Irvin by anything other than what he's called him since they were growing up in Georgia.
"To me, he's BJ," Riley said with a laugh. "I still call him BJ."
His friendship with Irvin aside, Riley now fills a void in the Raiders linebackers' room after Ben Heeney was placed on the Reserve/Injured list.
"I'm a football player," Riley said. "If you ask me, I think I can do everything, cover, tackle, play the run and pass, but playing the run is definitely something that outside people have told me I do well. I'm a physical player. I come downhill, taking on blocks, making plays in the gap, backfield, whatever, but I think a lot of people underestimate my athleticism, or speed outside in pass coverage."
Entering his seventh season in the NFL, there won't be much schematically that will cause concern for Riley, but in the days leading up to Sunday's matchup with the San Diego Chargers, getting familiar with the Raiders terminology will be the biggest hurdle for the veteran linebacker.
"Terminology is the biggest thing," Riley said. "Assignment wise it's pretty much the same. Linebacker is linebacker no matter where you play it at, but just the terminology, the way they get to explaining… what I'm supposed to do, is a little different than what I'm used to, but I'll get it, over time, I'll get it. I have what, three, four days for this week. I'm just going to hit it hard all throughout the night, and it'll come to me."
After receiving offers from other teams over the past few weeks, Riley decided to sign with the Raiders for a reason. Currently boasting a 3-1 record, the Silver and Black are a young team on the rise, and at just 28 years old, Riley is looking forward to joining the group and competing, making the most of his opportunity in the Bay Area.
"Definitely, I noticed the talent from afar, you have a young team that has a lot of talent, and they're only getting better," Riley explained. "They're 3-1 which is a great start if you ask me. I just want to come here and help keep that train rolling the way it's going. Obviously not too much needs to be changed, you're 3-1 in four games, so try to just keep that train going the way it's going, and help improve it a little bit."