Derek Carr

Raiders GM Mike Mayock On Antonio Brown, Jon Gruden, Derek Carr

Antonio Brown‘s time with the Raiders didn’t go as planned, to put it mildly. Oakland traded a couple of picks to acquire him from the Steelers, and he never ended up playing a game in the silver and black. Brown got into a very public spat with Raiders GM Mike Mayock, reportedly threatening to punch him and calling him a “cracker.” Although head coach Jon Gruden has final say on personnel matters, Mayock still caught a lot of flak for his handling of the situation. Now in an interview with Vic Tafur of The Athletic, Mayock reflected on the whole ordeal at length for the first time.

I put that on me,” Mayock said. “My anticipation was that he was coming off a situation in Pittsburgh where he wants to prove everybody wrong and he wants to ride into the Hall of Fame. That he was going to come in with Jon Gruden and Derek Carr and our offense and lead the way. … I really thought we were going to get the best out of Antonio Brown and we didn’t.”

The Raiders ended up cutting Brown on September 7th, a couple of days after the blowup in the locker room. “We weren’t able to get anything out of him. So, at the end of the day, in hindsight, we lost a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick, and I can’t tell you how much pain that causes me,” Mayock continued. Gruden initially welcomed Brown back into the locker room the day after the altercation, which led to some speculation that the coach had taken the player’s side over his GM’s, and that Mayock wasn’t long for the franchise.

Mayock denied there were any issues between him and Gruden, and he didn’t seem concerned about his job security. “Jon and I are good,” Mayock said. “Jon and I talk everything through.” The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas this offseason, and rumors have swirled that they could be in the market for a new quarterback as they make the transition. Mayock spoke positively of Carr, saying “Derek stepped forward in Year 2 under Jon Gruden,” but he also hedged.

As far as what the future holds, I’m gonna tell you the same thing I told you last year. About every position. And that is, my job is to evaluate every position and try and make us better. And if I can, I will, and if I can’t, I won’t. And that holds true at every position.” Spoken like a true GM. Carr was inconsistent once again this year, and it wouldn’t be a shock if the Raiders decide to make a splash at the position.

Mayock also talked about defensive end Clelin Ferrell, who the Raiders surprisingly drafted fourth overall last April. Ferrell got off to a slow start, and Mayock acknowledged as much. “I thought he was solid,” Mayock said. “Early in the year, we probably asked him to do too much. He had never played inside and he was splitting reps inside and outside. He lost weight, he was sick in London … those aren’t excuses, they’re facts.” 

“After London, when he got his weight back up, I thought the season began to build for him. We asked him to play one position and I thought he got better and better each week, and we’re excited about him,” he continued. The former NFL Network analyst also revealed that he thinks the impending move will help attract free agents. “There is definitely a buzz about our move into Las Vegas,” he said. “Could be one of the big stories of free agency.” The Raiders will be one of the most interesting teams to watch in 2020. 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders To Consider Moving On From Carr

The Raiders could be ready to move on from quarterback Derek Carr this offseason, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Several team sources tell La Canfora that they are sensing a growing frustration with the veteran by the coaching staff, and concerns about how much potential for growth remains.

Carr, 28, is completing his second season with Jon Gruden as head coach, and several sources close to Gruden tell La Canfora that they expect him to dissect the above average 2020 quarterback class and explore options to potentially make a change at the position for next year.

The former Fresno State standout has had a decent season for the Raiders this year, throwing for 3,372 yards, with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions, while completing 70 percent of his passes. Sources tell La Canfora that Gruden and Carr have a solid relationship. However, there are concerns about not extending plays with his legs when possible, and Oakland has also struggled to push the ball downfield, despite having some deep ball threats such as Tyrell Williams. Generally, Carr likes to rely on short throws to his running backs or tight ends. Carr isn’t a gunslinger or a big-time playmaker, which are characteristics that resonate heavily with Gruden. 

A source who knows Gruden quite well said to La Canfora that: “I don’t believe Jon sees enough high-end upside there, and at this point you would have to think Carr is what he is.” 

Due to the Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper trades, the Raiders are positioned to pick 13th and 17th if the draft was held today. Currently, the Raiders are 6-8, and there is a possibility they move into the top 10 pending the results of the final two weeks. The Raiders had a heavy Alabama bent to the first draft with Mike Mayock in the fold, and Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, pending the status of his hip, embodies many of the characteristics Gruden relishes the most.

Regardless, sources tell La Canfora that the Raiders will do heavy due diligence on this quarterback class and moving Carr, even in a crowded veteran quarterback landscape, would not be difficult. His significant guaranteed money has already been paid out, and he is signed through 2022 with very manageable cap hits, earning only about $19MM a season.

West Notes: Rams, Phillips, Suggs, Carr

The Rams have obviously been having a disappointing season, as they enter the final two weeks of the season with their playoff chances hanging by a thread the year after making a Super Bowl run. Anytime a team fails to meet expectations there’s the possibility for major changes, and it sounds like that could be the case in Los Angeles. Wade Phillips might be nearing the end of his time with the team, as Alex Marvez of Sirius XM NFL Radio tweets that he’s “hearing there’s a chance” Phillips doesn’t return for the 2020 season. Phillips, 72, has been the Rams’ defensive coordinator for the past three seasons, and was part of head coach Sean McVay’s inaugural staff.

The former Cowboys head coach has been coaching in the league since all the way back in 1976. Before joining forces with McVay he was the defensive coordinator in Denver, overseeing their vaunted ‘No Fly Zone’ secondary which won a Super Bowl in 2015. Marvez adds that Phillips is in the final year of his contract, and that if he were to depart then linebackers coach Joe Barry would be a “strong replacement candidate.” The Rams’ defense has had some notable meltdowns this season, like when they gave up 44 points to the Cowboys last week or 45 to the Ravens a month back, but they’ve also played quite well at times. The secondary has been better since trading for Jalen Ramsey, and they’ve given up 17 or fewer points in six of their last eight games. If Phillips does get the boot or chooses to leave on his own, he’d likely draw some interest from teams in search of a veteran assistant, perhaps to be paired with a young offensive-minded head coach.

Here’s more from out West:

  • Terrell Suggs initially said he’d only play for the Ravens after he was cut by the Cardinals, but when he was claimed by the Chiefs it was immediately reported that he’d be joining Kansas City. What changed? Apparently all it took was a short call with Andy Reid. “I was really uncertain about my future last week, but I talked to Coach and it was a brief conversation and I was like, ‘OK,”’ the veteran pass-rusher said earlier this week, via Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. “I asked Coach, ‘I just learned the hard way that a player like me just [doesn’t] fit in anywhere.’ He was like, ‘Trust me, you’ll fit in here.'” Suggs spent the first 16 years of his career with Baltimore before signing in Arizona this past offseason. Now, he’ll be joining one of the Ravens’ main AFC rivals with a chance at a potential final playoff run.
  • Raiders safety Karl Joseph was placed on injured reserve after suffering a foot injury early last month, and now we have more details. Joseph had a “partial case of plantar fasciitis in his right foot,” according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic (Twitter link). Tafur also reports that he’ll be good to go in April when offseason programs start across the league. The Raiders declined Joseph’s fifth-year option, so the former first-round pick will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. Joseph started the first nine games of this season, and has said he wants to be back with the Raiders. He was receiving average marks from Pro Football Focus before going down.
  • Speaking of the Raiders, there will be a lot of talk about Derek Carr this offseason. The Raiders are set to move to Las Vegas for 2020, and it’s not quite settled as to who will be their quarterback when they play their first game there. Jon Gruden has been publicly supportive of Carr, but “there is a significant disconnect between the coach and the quarterback,” writes Michael Lombardi of The Athletic. Lombardi writes that he believes the Raiders will hold onto Carr, while also drafting a quarterback next April. He speculates that Gruden might look to trade Carr, finding a partner willing to take on Carr’s relatively affordable contract. It’s often hard to tell what Gruden is really thinking as he’s often publicly said one thing while doing another during his short time back in the league, but it’s certainly plausible that he decides to move on from Carr, one of the last holdovers from the pre-Gruden Raiders.

QB Notes: Wentz, Rudolph, Darnold, Carr

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz struggled once again in Philadelphia’s 17-9 loss to the Seahawks. Wentz received a x-ray on his right hand during the second half of the game, but would not blame his poor play on the injury, according to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. In his postgame press conference, when asked if the injury affected his play, he said, “I don’t think it did.” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson clarified that the x-rays were negative, but Wentz would go through further tests.

Whether the injury played a role or not, Philadelphia needs to find an answer for their offensive woes. Wentz made a number of poor decisions, but two passes to open receivers in the flat that sailed well out of reach were especially emblematic of his problems. The Eagles are now 5-6 on the season, but have a vital stretch of their schedule against Miami, New York, and Washington. It will be crucial for their playoff chances to come out victorious against three of the weakest teams in the league.

Check out some other notes on quarterbacks around the league:

  • After being benched in the Steelers 16-10 win over the Bengals, quarterback Mason Rudolph addressed allegations from Browns defensive end Myles Garrett that Rudolph used a racial slur last week on Thursday Night Football. Rudolph adamantly denied the claims with reporters after the game, writes Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “I couldn’t believe it and I couldn’t believe that he would go that route after the fact. But it is what it is and I think I’ve moved on. One day it was tough, but moved on. We’re good to go now.” Rudolph reiterated the claims were “totally untrue” and when asked if he said anything that could have been construed in a racist way he said, ““Absolutely not.’’
  • Young quarterback Sam Darnold was criticized a few weeks ago for talking about the playoffs with half the season remaining, but the young Jets gunslinger is showing progress dealing with the media, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN. Darnold mentioned that the playoffs were in the back of his mind after 34-3 blowout win against the Raiders, but quickly made clear that he is taking the season one game at a time. This season has definitely been a roller coaster for Darnold who is still looking to string a few strong games together after missing the start of the season dealing with mononucleosis.
  • Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was benched amidst a blowout loss to the Jets by head coach Jon Gruden. The move is not meant to create any controversy at the position, however. Carr was removed alongside other important players in Oakland’s rotation to protect them from injury down 31 in the third quarter. Still, Gruden acknowledged the difficulty decision talking with reporters after the game, according to Jerry McDonald of The Mercury News. “I didn’t want to take him out, but doing what I think is right and I’m sure I’ll be second-guessed for that but I think I’m doing what’s right for our football team.”

Raiders To Work Out Kyler Murray

Jon Gruden reiterated Monday that Derek Carr will be the Raiders’ starting quarterback this season, after saying as much at the Combine. But the Raiders will still explore this year’s top passing prospects.

Raiders representatives will conduct a workout with Kyler Murray next week, according to Albert Breer of SI.com, who adds the team’s previously reported workout with Dwayne Haskins will take place next week as well.

Gruden has praised Murray throughout the offseason, but the noise at the Combine has not cooled down. The Cardinals are heavily linked to the 5-foot-10 quarterback. This may make the Haskins meetings more important. The Ohio State-developed prospect also has a Dolphins workout scheduled, along with meetings with the Giants, Broncos and Redskins. He is expected to be a top-10 pick. The past four drafts’ second quarterback selected has been no later than No. 10 overall.

Should the Raiders select Murray or Haskins, Carr’s run as the team’s starter will likely come to an end soon. He has four years and a non-guaranteed $78MM remaining on his contract.

Yeah, he’s going to be our quarterback,” Gruden told Jim Trotter of NFL.com. “I’m not going to address all the rumors. I could care less about the rumors, you know? He threw for 4,100 yards. Threw for almost 70 percent in a very dire, tough circumstance. So I’ve got a lot of confidence in Carr, what he can do with Antonio Brown, with Tyrell Williams, with Trent Brown coming in here to help our offensive line, with a better defense. I’m excited about Carr.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Carr, Chiefs, Broncos

This weekend, the latest report pointing to Derek Carr‘s less-than-solid standing with the Raiders emerged, courtesy of Bleacher Report’s Master Tefatsion (on Twitter), which indicated Oakland was shopping its starting quarterback. With a soft veteran quarterback market, perhaps helping the Jaguars on the Nick Foles front, that would make sense. However, the Raiders do not have a viable alternative to Carr, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes they are not believed to have strong interest in trading their five-year starter. Jon Gruden has offered effusive praise for Carr, and Florio adds — Gruden’s Kyler Murray interest notwithstanding — the Raider HC is still believed to be a big fan of the 27-year-old incumbent. He confirmed as much this week.

Here is the latest from the AFC West, shifting to another player recently mentioned in trade rumors:

  • Travis Kelce will have some rehab to do this offseason. The Chiefs‘ All-Pro tight end underwent ankle surgery, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets, and may not be available for the team’s offseason program. Although Garafolo describes this as a cleanup procedure, the 29-year-old tight end will miss some of the Chiefs’ program. Kelce is, however, expected to be ready by training camp.
  • A position distinction fight appears to be brewing in Kansas City. With the Chiefs all set to tag Dee Ford, the somewhat antiquated franchise tag designations are back in play. The team will likely push for the edge rusher to be classified as a linebacker, which comes with a $15.443MM price, rather than a defensive end ($17.128MM), Florio writes. Ford has played outside linebacker throughout his NFL career, but if he returns to the Chiefs in 2019, he will play defensive end in Steve Spagnuolo‘s 4-3 scheme. This happened with Terrell Suggs and the Ravens in 2008, in a process that ended with Suggs categorized as a hybrid linebacker/defensive end for a compromise, and may become an issue for the Texans and Jadeveon Clowney. However, the Chiefs transitioning to a new defense provides a bit of a new wrinkle. The Chiefs are planning to listen to offers for Ford.
  • Matt Paradis will still reach free agency, but Mike Klis of 9News tweets the Broncos are not out of the running for their four-year center starter. The Broncos and Paradis’ camp had a productive meeting in Indianapolis, per Klis, but not enough to keep the snapper off the market. Denver’s line would lose a major piece, the last part of its Super Bowl 50 blocking quintet, if Paradis walks. Despite coming off a broken leg and being set to turn 30 in 2019, the former sixth-round pick’s previous consistency may well put him on a path to challenge Jason Kelce‘s new $11MM-AAV deal as the top center contract.
  • With the low-end RFA tender having climbed to $2.025MM, the Broncos may be leaning toward non-tendering Pro Bowl long snapper Casey Kreiter. With the highest-paid deep snapper (the Chargers’ Jake McQuaide) averaging a $1.175MM-per-year salary, Klis tweets it would appear the Broncos will not tender Kreiter and instead try to work out a deal at a lower price. Long snappers generally have a set pay scale, with 17 of them making between $1MM and $1.175MM, so a member of this club getting nearly double that in a season would be noteworthy.

Jon Gruden: Derek Carr Is Our Franchise QB

The Raiders have been heavily connected to Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, but Jon Gruden insists that Derek Carr is still very much in the team’s plans. On Thursday, Gruden reaffirmed his commitment to Carr, just one day after GM Mike Mayock did the same. 

Yes. He’s our franchise quarterback. Let me make that clear,” Gruden said (via PFT).

Carr’s $19.9MM base salary for 2019 became fully guaranteed a few weeks ago. The Raiders could still explore other QB options, of course, but a Carr release is no longer a real possibility.

Gruden’s vote of confidence for Carr won’t necessarily put a damper the Murray speculation. Recently, Gruden said that watching Murray play was like “watching a video game” and lauded the QB for his athleticism. With four picks in the top 35, including the No. 4 overall choice, the Raiders have enough ammo to take Murray and still strengthen other areas.

Carr, 28 in March, went just 4-12 as the Raiders’ starter last season. He completed a career-high 68.9% of his passesbut threw for only 19 touchdowns against ten interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Rumors: Oakland, SF, Carr, Cook

An offer for the Raiders to play in Oakland in exchange for $7.5MM in rent remains on the table, as Michael Gehlken of the Review-Journal writes. The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is willing to honor the agreement, despite the fact that the city of Oakland has filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NFL.

We have always wanted them to come back and play the last season here,” McKibben said Tuesday. “Keep in mind the Coliseum Authority that I work for and represent is not in this lawsuit. The lawsuit has been filed by the city of Oakland. The role that I have taken is I’ve got a lot of jobs to save for a season or two. We would love to see them play here for the fans and the sponsors and the media exposure and all the various constituents that are impacted by this.”

Here’s more out of Oakland:

  • The 49ers are still not expected to waive their territorial rights for the Raiders to play in San Francisco, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). On top of that, the mayor of San Francisco has come out against the Raiders playing at Oracle Park, which makes SF even more unlikely. At this point, it’ll be either Oakland or Levi’s Stadium for the Raiders, Rapoport hears.
  • Derek Carr’s $19.9MM base salary for 2019 became fully guaranteed on Wednesday, as Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes. The Raiders could explore other QB options this offseason, but a Carr release is not a real possibility anymore.
  • Jared Cook is unlikely to return to the Raiders, Vic Tafur of The Athletic opines. Coach Jon Gruden indicated that Cook was in the team’s plans at the Super Bowl, but Tafur believes that he likes tight ends Darren Waller, Lee Smith, Derek Carrier and practice squad TE Paul Butler enough to let Cook go elsewhere in free agency. Talent-wise, the Raiders might like to have Cook back, but he should find a competitive market in March. Cook was named to the Pro Bowl as an alternate after he hauled in a career-high 68 catches for 896 yards and six TDs.

AFC West Notes: Raiders, Carr, Broncos

As the Raiders transition further into the second Jon Gruden era, more staff turnover can be expected. Mike Mayock has replaced Reggie McKenzie as GM, and another of McKenzie’s lieutenants is no longer with the team. Director of pro personnel Dane Vandernat recently left the Raiders, according to Sirius XM’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter). Vandernat’s contract was to expire after the draft, per Caplan, who adds Dave Razzano will take over some of Vandernat’s pre-draft workload. This comes after player personnel director Joey Clinkscales received his walking papers. Teams that make front office changes often wait until after the draft to revamp scouting departments, and Mayock recently said he is scouting the in-house scouts. Vandernat’s Raiders arrival predated McKenzie’s. He had been with the team since 2008. Reggie McKenzie’s twin brother, Raleigh McKenzie, is still working for the Raiders as a scout.

Here is the latest from the AFC West, shifting to the Raiders’ quarterback situation.

  • Rumors are circulating about Gruden and Mayock bringing in their own quarterback, with Peter King of NBC Sports writing “lots” of suspicion has arisen about the Raiders drafting a passer in the first round. This prospective move would not be accompanied by a Derek Carr trade, per King, who adds an NFL exec said the team may be tempted by the Chiefs’ draft-and-wait model they used with Patrick Mahomes. Of course, Alex Smith was 33 during Mahomes’ rookie season; Carr will turn 28 this year. That would not make for a smooth setup. Additionally, the Raiders’ first-round picks acquired via trade sit at Nos. 24 and 27. Several potential quarterback-seeking teams pick ahead of them, with the Giants (No. 6), Jaguars (7), Broncos (10), Dolphins (13, though they are eyeing the 2020 QB class) and Redskins (15) stationed in the first round’s top half. It would be a bit odd if the Raiders gave up assets to replace Carr, and King is hearing buzz about it even taking a top-10 pick to select Kyler Murray (if he ends up in the draft).
  • The Broncos‘ $41MM-plus in cap space places them in the upper middle class this offseason, but they have a few possible cuts they can make to increase that figure. Coming off back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in 46 years, the Broncos are expected to be active in free agency, ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold notes (on Twitter). Denver needs help at cornerback, on the offensive line and at tight end, to name three spots. The Broncos have several notable UFAs, but so far, Matt Paradis has been the only higher-end UFA mentioned as a player the franchise would like to retain. Bradley Roby, Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett, the latter eyeing a starting role he cannot obtain in Denver, are expected to depart.
  • DeMarcus Ware worked as a pass-rush consultant in Denver last season, but he might not be back in 2019. Vic Fangio has not spoken with Ware about returning, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. Fangio said he will spend time with Denver’s outside linebackers, and he brought Brandon Staley over from Chicago to directly oversee this spot.
  • The Broncos hired the grandson of former Colorado coach Bill McCartney to be their quarterbacks coach, and they are adding former Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington HC Tyrone Willingham‘s son, Nathaniel Willingham, to serve as their defensive quality control coach, Mike Klis of 9News notes. The younger Willingham spent the past four seasons as a Stanford coach.
  • Melvin Gordon will see how Le’Veon Bell‘s deal affects the market before discussing a Chargers extension.

Raiders Owner On Mack Trade, Gruden

Raiders owner Mark Davis is taking responsibility for the team’s 1-8 start, even though many are pointing fingers at head coach Jon Gruden

I always look in the mirror, and the buck stops with me,” Davis told ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez. “Where this team is right now is my fault. We haven’t been able to build a 22-man roster. We haven’t been able to give this team a chance to win because the reconstruction failed. We failed from 2014 on to have a roster right now.”

Over the course of a 45-minute interview, Davis discussed Gruden, GM Reggie McKenzie, the team’s widely panned trade of defensive star Khalil Mack, and much more. Here’s a look at the highlights:

On Gruden’s role in the Mack trade:

Jon wanted him. Everybody thinks that Jon’s the one who wanted to get rid of him. Jon wanted him badly. Why wouldn’t you want this guy? Reggie wanted him badly. And I wanted him badly, too. But, if in fact we were going to give the type of money that we were going to give to him, and we had Derek on that type of a (contract), how were we going to go ahead and build this football team, with all the holes that we had?

On what prompted the team to send Mack to the Bears: 

My thought was, “Listen, he signed a five-year contract, if he’s the type of guy that I think he is, he’s going to honor that contract.” And he’s going to come in and play for the $13MM for this year and then we’ll work for him during the year and get it. Word came back through certain players that know him and talk to him and know me as well, that he wasn’t going to come in. He was going to do the Le’Veon Bell (holdout). At that point, I said, F’ it. The guy hasn’t talked to anybody. We’ve got to do something.

On Mack’s agent, Joel Segal:

It might not have been the right decision, but the other point to this whole thing is that Segal is also the agent for Amari Cooper. And we knew the same situation was coming up the next year. It wasn’t just one layer of chess; it was two layers of chess. But to blame Jon, for Khalil Mack not being here, is absolutely not the truth. It was a decision that was made and it wasn’t made easily … I don’t have any bad feelings toward (Mack). I wish he would have talked to Jon and Reggie and wanted to at least honor the fifth year of his contract.

On the future of quarterback Derek Carr:

Derek is taking a lot of s— right now. He is the franchise quarterback right now. He doesn’t have Amari Cooper. He lost (Martavis) Bryant to a knee injury today. Guys have been getting hurt. Who’s he throwing to? Jordy Nelson and Seth Roberts, which are good guys. But they’re not putting the fear of God in anybody. The tight end (Jared Cook) is playing his ass off. You look at the quarterback and he’s playing behind a battered offensive line … so I don’t know what you can put on Derek and I don’t think it’s fair to put all the blame on him.

On McKenzie’s future:

Reggie and I need to sit down and talk and figure out how we are going to go about the future. We’ve got to look in the mirror and figure out, where the hell did we go wrong in trying to build this thing? We failed. I have failed. But at the same time, we wouldn’t have been in the great position we were in without Reggie McKenzie being here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.