Nick Roach isn't sure where he'll be playing when he lines up as a Raiders starting linebacker in 2013.
Signed as an unrestricted free agent to an undisclosed multiyear contract Friday, Roach is versatile enough to have plugged the gap against Adrian Peterson for the Chicago Bears as a middle linebacker and covered Calvin Johnson in the slot from the strong side.
It was immediately speculated Roach would be the replacement for Rolando McClain, who remains on the Raiders roster but will be released or traded before he is due a $4 million salary.
"They kind of just said they see me being able to do a lot of things that they want to do, so specifically the middle, I'm not sure if that will be the case," Roach said told Bay Area media by conference call.
A veteran of 80 games and 59 starts with the Bears since 2008, Roach joins fellow free agent signee Kaluka Maiava and incumbent weak side starter Miles Burris as projected starting linebackers.
Roach started the last five games for the Bears last season in the middle because of an injury to Brian Urlacher. He started 29 games over the past two seasons and the Bears were actively seeking to keep him on the roster.
ESPN-Chicago reported that Bears' general manager Phil Emery said his team attempted to sign Roach, but was up against the salary cap and Roach "wouldn't make the necessary adjustments," accepting the Raiders' offer instead.
Roach became the fourth defensive player and potential starter to be signed by the Raiders since the start of free agency, joining Maiava (Cleveland), Jason Hunter (Denver) and Pat Sims (Cincinnati).
In the market for cornerbacks, the Raiders were reportedly in talks with Cincinnati free agent Terence Newman, who indicated in a Tweet he was visiting with Oakland. The Raiders were confirming neither a visit nor a transaction.
Roach thought playing in the middle at the end of the season and learning from Urlacher and linebacker Lance Briggs made him more marketable on the market.
"It was huge. You don't even know yourself that you can do something until you have a chance to really do it," Roach said. "It was big for being able to get the film out there and just for the confidence of feeling like your versatility is really worth something."
Roach will be in Baltimore this weekend as the recipient of the Bears' Ed Block Courage Award, given to the player on each team that exemplifies principles of sportsmanship and courage. It suggests that Roach will be a positive influence in the locker room.
"What it says to me is you're able to earn the respect of your teammates and your locker room," Roach said. "It's obviously a huge honor, when you can get an award that's voted on strictly by the guys that you play with."