Obi Melifonwu did not do much to draw praise from Jon Gruden this offseason, and the new Raiders coach cut bait on Reggie McKenzie‘s 2017 second-round pick. The Combine phenom out of UConn struggled to recover from his 2017 hip injury this offseason, and he recently suffered a setback that Vic Tafur of The Athletic notes (subscription required) was related to his hip problem. Melifonwu recently went to see a specialist, and Tafur adds he hasn’t been at the Raiders’ facility in more than a week. If no team claims Melifonwu, officially waived with an injury designation, the Raiders will take a $1.73MM dead-money hit, Tafur tweets. If not, the 6-foot-4 defensive back revert to Oakland’s IR. That is, unless an injury settlement is reached. He adds that neither last year’s Raiders staff nor this year’s were convinced Melifonwu was fully committed to football, believing that was going to result in Gruden cutting ties with him. Melifonwu, though, received first-team reps earlier this month before that setback. Another team could take a chance on him because of the athleticism he showed during his pre-draft workouts.
Here’s the latest out of northern California.
- Khalil Mack remains at odds with the Raiders, and SI.com’s Albert Breer does not expect this situation to be resolved by Week 1. Although the Raiders provided hard no’s to teams inquiring about the former defensive player of the year’s trade availability, Breer notes there’s still no progress between the team and Mack. Guarantee structure strikes Breer as an issue, with cash flow serving as a potential problem for the Raiders. Derek Carr‘s landmark extension was heavily backloaded toward the Las Vegas years. Perhaps Mark Davis is trying to do the same with Mack.
- Eli Harold lined up with the 49ers‘ starters throughout the offseason, but the now-Lions linebacker didn’t stay on the field during nickel sets and wasn’t a quality special-teamer, per Matt Barrows of The Athletic. Kyle Shanahan and his staff realized Harold wasn’t going to make the team, Barrows notes. Traded for a conditional 2020 seventh-rounder, Harold started for most of the past two seasons. However, his departure leaves just 12 49ers left from the Trent Baalke years. Fellow 2015 draftee Mark Nzeocha took Harold’s place with the starters at San Francisco practice Thursday, Barrows notes. A former Cowboys seventh-round pick, Nzeocha played in 10 games for the 49ers last season but has yet to start an NFL contest.
- One of the Baalke-era 49ers, though, returned to the team this week. The 49ers re-signed defensive lineman Chris Jones after Cedric Thornton decided to retire. Jones will see reps at both defensive tackle spots while spending time at San Francisco’s “big end” position as well, DC Robert Saleh said (via Barrows, on Twitter). Jones last played in 2016 for the 49ers, but he started all six contests in which he participated.