Daryl Worley

Bay Area Notes: Witherspoon, Lee, Verrett, Joyner

49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon was expected to be active for Monday Night’s contest against the Seahawks for the first time since Week 3. However, Witherspoon remained on the team’s inactive list. According to The Athletic’s Matt Barrows, Witherspoon feels 100%, but he did not get to participate in a full practice this week. Thus, the team plans to give him a full week of practice before rejoining the starting lineup next week against the Cardinals.

Rookie undrafted free agent Emmanuel Mosley has been fantastic in place of Witherspoon and surely made the decision to play it safe with Witherspoon easier. At 8-0, San Francisco has a fantastic opportunity to put themselves in the driver’s seat for the number one seed in the NFC with a win tonight.

Here’s more from around the Bay Area:

  • Raiders linebacker Marquel Lee has rejoined the team’s practices, according to Howard Balzer. Lee was placed on injured reserve in September with an ankle injury, however, the team designated him for a possible return. Balzer’s report signals the beginning of a 21-day practice period for Lee to practice with the team before Oakland must decide to reactivate him or leave him on IR for the rest of the season.
  • Cornerback Jason Verrett was among the 49ers on the field for warm-ups on Monday Night before their matchup with Seattle, according to Matt Barrows of The Athletic. While normally a player warming up before a game wouldn’t be newsworthy, Verrett is currently on the injured reserve with a designation to potentially return later in the season. Per Barrows, he has not been on the field since his injury two months ago. Since Verrett is not eligible to return until December 1, it is a very good sign for the team to see him making progress.
  • Jon Gruden told reporters that Raiders slot cornerback Lamarcus Joyner is questionable with a hamstring injury, according to Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area. Gruden went on to say that Nevin Lawson will get the first opportunity to replace Joyner. Rookie fourth round pick Isaiah Johnson, recently activated from the injured reserve, will get an opportunity to receive snaps at the outside cornerback position and possibly move veteran Daryl Worley inside to the slot as well, per Bair.

Arden Key Done For Season

Raiders defensive end Arden Key suffered a broken foot during the team’s win over the Lions on Sunday, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (Twitter link). After he received a second opinion from Dr. Robert Anderson, the Raiders announced that he will miss the rest of the season and be placed on IR.

The injury comes at a particularly poor time for Key, as the LSU product had recorded a sack in each of Oakland’s past two games and was finally beginning to display the pass rushing ability that once made him a potential first-round pick. A rocky final collegiate season in 2017 caused him to drop to the third round of the 2018 draft, and after posting just one sack in his rookie campaign, Key was making positive strides this year.

Key missed a game earlier this season due to a sprained patellar tendon, and after that diagnosis, the Raiders worked out a few edge defenders who could serve as a replacement.

In other Raiders-related injury news, cornerback Daryl Worley has a strained Achilles and will be getting an MRI, as Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. Worley has started every game for Oakland this year and recorded his first pick of the season on Sunday.

Right tackle Trent Brown sustained a knee injury on Sunday and is also waiting on MRI results, per Bair.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Hill, Raiders, 49ers, Seahawks

It is possible the Chiefs will have neither of their top two wideouts going into their Week 6 home game against the Texans. Sammy Watkins is listed as doubtful to suit up, and Andy Reid called Tyreek Hill a game-time decision. Hill suffered an unusual clavicle injury early in Week 1 and has not played since. The veteran wideout, whose status for the Chiefs’ early-season games was in doubt for months because of more off-field trouble, returned to practice last week. Hill not playing would give the Chiefs’ auxiliary trio of Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle — each of whom having posted a 100-yard game this season — an interesting opportunity to work in bigger roles. Hill’s return not coming in Week 6 would almost certainly mean a Week 7 re-emergence.

Here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • The NFC’s final unbeaten team now will start two backup tackles, with 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery this week. Kyle Shanahan said he would be open to a trade but does not view one as making sense presently. “Things got to be available,” Shanahan said, via NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco. “You got to be able to make smart decisions. If there were a smart decision out there, we’d definitely look into it. It doesn’t seem like many are available right now.” The obvious one would be a Trent Williams deal, but it does not sound like the 49ers are willing to meet the Redskins’ asking price. Shanahan coached Williams as Washington’s OC previously. Joe Staley is expected back in a few weeks.
  • A natural Jay Gruden landing spot would be with the Raiders, considering older brother Jon is in his second season as their coach. While expressing disappointment in the Redskins’ decision to fire his brother, Jon Gruden did not want to speculate on adding Jay to his staff, per NBC Sports Bay Area’s Scott Bair. Jay Gruden worked on his brother’s Buccaneers staffs from 2002-08, doing so as an offensive assistant. Jay was an Arena League quarterback for part of that span. The Raiders bringing Jay Gruden in would create an interesting “Cincinnati West” makeup, with former Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther working as the Raiders’ DC. Guenther and Jay Gruden worked under Marvin Lewis together. Jay Gruden said he does not intend to coach again in 2019 but will pursue other HC jobs in advance of the 2020 season.
  • Daryl Worley has started all five Raiders games this season, doing so as an outside cornerback. But with Nevin Lawson back on the roster after a suspension, and fourth-round rookie Isaiah Johnson set to resume practicing this week, the Raiders envision Worley transitioning into a hybrid role, Bair notes. Lamarcus Joyner already operates in that capacity in Oakland, but Jon Gruden sees Worley playing both safety and nickel in what the coach seems to view as a malleable secondary. Johnson, who is on IR, is likely to start practicing next week, Bair adds.
  • The Seahawks will likely be without two offensive line starters Sunday. Left tackle Duane Brown and right guard D.J. Fluker are doubtful to face the Browns. Seattle placed backup Ethan Pocic on IR on Friday, leaving the unit thin on its Cleveland trip. George Fant is expected to start at left tackle, and the Seahawks have interior linemen Joey Hunt and Jordan Roos on their roster as possible Fluker replacements. Hunt has three career starts, Roos zero.

Daryl Worley Signs Raiders RFA Tender

Daryl Worley will be back in Oakland for the 2019 season. The veteran cornerback signed his RFA tender on Monday, according to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk.

The Raiders placed a second-round tender on Worley earlier this offseason. Barring an extension, Worley will make $3.095MM this season.

A Raider signing during a turbulent 2018 offseason, Worley played 505 snaps in 10 games last year. The Raiders clearly saw something Pro Football Focus did not in the former Panthers third-round pick; PFF graded Worley as the league’s seventh-worst full-time corner last season.

Worley’s 2018 season began four games late because of a suspension in connection to his offseason arrest and ended early due to a torn shoulder labrum. The 24-year-old defender has since undergone surgery. He is expected to remain the starter opposite Gareon Conley, Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area notes.

Worley joins Conley and Karl Joseph as secondary holdovers. The Raiders have added both Lamarcus Joyner and Nevin Lawson this offseason, with former Giants safety Curtis Riley also signing. The Silver and Black begin their offseason program April 15.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Tender RB Jalen Richard, CB Daryl Worley

The Raiders placed second-round tenders on both running back Jalen Richard and cornerback Darryl Worley. Both players are now earmarked for one-year, $3.095MM deals with Oakland, unless they are signed to an offer sheet from a club willing to surrender a second-round pick. Meanwhile, Raiders safety Erik Harris received one-year, $2.025MM original round tender as a restricted free agent.

The move to tender Worley at the second-round level is a bit of a head scratcher. In his case, an original round tender would have called for another club to surrender a third-round pick to sign him. That would have been ample protection for a player who graded out as the seventh-worst cornerback in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus, but the Raiders took the extra step of protecting him with the second-round level tender. Ultimately, it will eat up about $1MM extra in cap space, and small missteps like that tend to add up.

The decision to protect Richard, a former UDFA, with the second-round tender makes more sense. Last year, Richard managed 4.7 yards per carry in a limited sample size and he boasts a career 5.3 ypc average. He’ll return to a Raiders team that may or may not feature Doug Martin and Marshawn Lynch in 2019.

West Rumors: Fitz, Raiders, Broncos, Brown

After the Cardinals trudged through their worst season in 18 years, Larry Fitzgerald‘s latest retire-or-not decision now features another new coach and offensive system in the equation — this one with no NFL coaching experience. But the future Hall of Fame receiver has not distanced himself from the process that brought Kliff Kingsbury to Arizona. Fitz has exchanged text messages with his new coach, the 35-year-old wideout told TMZ recently (via the Arizona Republic).

Hell of a coach. … Look at his resume,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s innovative offensively. That’s the wave of the future right now, so I’m excited for the chance to meet him.”

Fitzgerald played out his contract and is a free agent. While it would seemingly be tempting for the 15-year veteran to see if he could land with a team better positioned to compete for a championship, the career-long Cardinal has said multiple times he will only play for the Cards. Fitz continues to deliberate about the possibility of retiring or coming back for a 16th season.

Here is more from the West-division teams that have been working on their offseason strategies.

  • Former Broncos offensive lineman Chris Kuper will return to Denver as the team’s assistant offensive line coach. Kuper spent the previous three seasons coaching under Adam Gase in Miami. He retired following the 2013 season with the Broncos, who deployed him as a starter for most of his career. Kuper will work under Mike Munchak.
  • The 49ers are the Las Vegas frontrunners to land Antonio Brown, and The Athletic (subscription required) agrees with that assessment. San Francisco should be viewed as the clubhouse leaders to acquire the disgruntled Steelers wideout, per The Athletic’s Matt Barrows. Kyle Shanahan balked at paying high prices for this past year’s UFA crop, and Barrows writes the 49ers will not be giving up their No. 2 overall pick for a soon-to-be 31-year-old wideout. However, he cautions a team picking in the late first round may be able to outflank a San Francisco trade offer, regardless of the 49ers’ need at this position.
  • Brentson Buckner‘s position with the Raiders will be defensive line coach, Jon Gruden said Tuesday (via ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez). Buckner, who coached the Buccaneers’ defensive linemen last season, will replace Mike Trgovac. The latter, however, will be promoted in some capacity, per Gruden. As for the Raiders’ quarterbacks coach position — vacated by Brian Callahan‘s move to become the Bengals’ OC Tuesday — the team might wait until the Combine to fill that position.
  • Gruden believes Daryl Worley underwent shoulder surgery recently after ending his season with a torn labrum, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweets. Worley, a starter this season prior to landing on IR, is expected to receive an RFA tender from the Raiders.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/24/18

Here are the NFL’s minor moves on Christmas Eve:

Dallas Cowboys

Oakland Raiders

Tennessee Titans

Raiders Rumors: Trades, Melvin, Lynch

Stability’s been elusive during Jon Gruden‘s first months in Oakland, and Rashaan Melvin found himself as the centerpiece of a recent chapter in a complicated Raiders year. The Raiders limited the free agent addition to just seven snaps Sunday in London, and Melvin expressed his frustration with a reduced role. The Raiders have wanted Melvin to add a new technique to his repertoire, one he wasn’t familiar with during his previous NFL seasons, and internally prefer mid-offseason pickup Daryl Worley to Melvin, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes. After a more diplomatic response Sunday, Melvin tweeted, “I’m done trying to change my style. It’s not me. Back to what I know and what got me here!!” Gruden then used another opportunity to take issue with one of his players through the press.

Melvin is on his seventh team. Maybe he is confused about what technique he is using,” Gruden said Tuesday, via Vic Vafur of The Athletic (on Twitter). “He is frustrated. I can’t blame him. … He is a good kid.”

Melvin signed a one-year, $5.5MM contract with the Raiders after delivering a strong season, prior to an injury, in 2017. Like most aspects of the 2018 Raiders, Melvin’s contract year is not going well. Projected starting corners Melvin and Gareon Conley are now on the bench.

Here’s the latest out of Oakland:

  • Trade rumors continue to hit Reggie McKenzie-era draft picks, with Amari Cooper, Karl Joseph and even Derek Carr surfacing in them. Although Carr’s status appears secure in 2018, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com writes some NFL execs are receiving the impression no other non-rookie Raider is untouchable at this year’s trade deadline. While little’s going right for the Raiders, they do have a solid offensive line interior (Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson) and have proven pass rusher Bruce Irvin. All arrived under McKenzie’s watch and helped lead Oakland to a 12-4 2016 season. Cooper’s availability stems from the Raiders, like they were with Khalil Mack, appearing unready to authorize a top-market second contract, per Robinson. It’s a tough time for a franchise that’s endured many of them this century.
  • Marshawn Lynch is one Raider who’s having a decent season, but his campaign may need to be paused. The 32-year-old back is battling a groin strain, and Gruden is concerned this could be a long-term problem (Twitter link via Tafur). Lynch is receiving medical input on the issue this week. Lynch scored touchdowns during the first three games of the season but has averaged fewer than four yards per carry in five of his six games. He rushed for 45 yards on 13 carries in London. The Raiders exercised their post-London bye option, so Lynch has additional time to recover.
  • Having cut Derrick Johnson earlier Tuesday, the Raiders worked out former Broncos linebacker Corey Nelson, veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer tweets. Nelson’s been on the workout circuit for a bit now and hasn’t been able to stick on a team since his Broncos rookie contract expired.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/6/18

Here are Saturday’s minor moves and additional post-suspension activations:

Buffalo Bills

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

Oakland Raiders

San Francisco 49ers

Ingram, Edelman To Return In Week 5

As we approach Week 5 of the NFL season, several NFL players are returning from four-game bans. As noted by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), that list includes notables such as Saints running back Mark Ingram, Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, Cowboys defensive tackle David Irving, Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget, Colts running back Robert Turbin, Raiders cornerback Daryl Worley, Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith

Players do not count against a team’s roster max while suspended, so clubs will have to make room for these players before adding them for Week 5. There will be some tough decisions to make, but the upside is clear in most of these cases, particularly when it comes to offensive weapons like Ingram and Edelman or defensive pillars like Burfict and Irving.

Alvin Kamara should remain the focal point of the Saints’ running game, but the return of Ingram will give opposing defenses something else to think about. And, as we saw in the first three weeks of the Patriots’ season, Edelman has been sorely missed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.