Keelan Doss

Raiders Sign WR Keelan Doss

Keelan Doss is headed back to Oakland after all. Doss became a breakout star on HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’, but was released by the Raiders at final cuts and ended up signing to the Jaguars’ practice squad.

When the Raiders cut Antonio Brown, they tried to sign Doss back. Jacksonville then agreed to pay him a rookie minimum salary while on the practice squad in order to keep him. But now the Raiders have upped their offer to something he simply couldn’t refuse, and Doss is signing back with the team, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link). To lure him back, Oakland is giving Doss a whopping $300K signing bonus and $495K fully guaranteed base salary.

It’s a massive step-up for Doss. In just a couple of days, he went from making a non-guaranteed practice squad salary to getting $795K guaranteed. Giving a player a multi-hundred thousand dollar signing bonus to come off another team’s practice squad is nearly unprecedented, and shows how badly the Raiders wanted receiver help after Brown’s departure.

Doss is an undrafted rookie from UC Davis. A native of the Bay Area, he’ll be completing a homecoming that was widely documented on the popular HBO series. Doss shined at times during the preseason, and set school records for touchdowns and all-purpose yards.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AB Fallout: Gruden, Steelers, Contract, Doss

One of the crazier sagas in modern NFL history concluded Saturday. The Raiders released Antonio Brown after voiding his guarantees, setting themselves up for another potential decision on Brown requiring an arbitrator. Jon Gruden addressed the decision, which came a day after he said Brown would play in Week 1 against the Broncos.

We just have exhausted everything,” Gruden said. “We tried every way possible to make it work. And all I’m gonna say is it’s disappointing. We did everything we could to make this work. I’m sorry it didn’t. I apologize, but I’ll tell you, I’m very proud of what we did as an organization to try. I wish Antonio the best. I’m sorry we never got a chance to see him in silver and black. … I just don’t think it worked. It didn’t fit here.”

The Raiders’ top receivers going into Monday night’s game are now Tyrell Williams and J.J. Nelson. They drafted Hunter Renfrow and kept Ryan Grant over Gruden Hard Knocks favorite Keelan Doss.

Here is the latest from this round of AB fallout:

  • Brown did not completely morph into the polarizing figure he now is until Week 17 of last season, a sequence that began his Pittsburgh exit. A 2012 date sticks with some Steelers figures, however. A day after Brown received the first of his two Steelers extensions (July 28, 2012), he engaged in a heated exchange with Steelers defenders and then-DC Dick LeBeau at a training camp practice, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com notes. Another component in the Brown saga, per Robinson: Steelers owner Dan Rooney‘s death. The late owner was a Brown supporter, and Robinson adds Brown “took it hard” when the organization prioritized Ben Roethlisberger over him. This is a bit strange because the Steelers did not give Big Ben his latest extension until Brown forced his way out, though the team did back Roethlisberger after Brown’s Week 17 became an amazing run of drama.
  • Drew Rosenhaus mentioned this Brown saga indeed could become a legal situation, regarding the released wideout’s $29MM-plus in guarantees, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). “We’ll do what’s best for Antonio. We will speak with the NFLPA,” Rosenhaus said, via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link). While the Raiders no longer employ Brown, their part in this process does not look to be over. If Brown were to win a grievance, the Raiders could be tagged with $29.125MM in dead money, ex-GM Mike Tannenbaum tweets. The Steelers are already eating $21.12MM in 2019 dead cap charges.
  • Interestingly, the Raiders tried to bring Doss back after releasing Brown. But the Jaguars moved to give the rookie UDFA a full veteran-minimum salary to keep him, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reports (video link). Doss will become by far Jacksonville’s highest-paid practice squad player, making an active-roster minimum of $495K. The practice squad minimum is $8K per week.
  • Any team that signs Brown will guarantee 25% of his 2019 salary, per OverTheCap’s Jason Fitzgerald (on Twitter), because of termination pay rules. However, if one of the other three teams playing on Monday night — the Texans, Saints or Broncos — sign Brown before their respective games (extremely unlikely), Brown’s salary would be fully guaranteed.
  • Count the Saints out, however, with Sean Payton quickly indicating (via NOLA.com’s Herbie Teope, on Twitter) his team will not pursue the volatile All-Pro. This figures to be a theme, but there will certainly be teams that investigate this situation for a possible free agent signing.

Raiders Get Down To 53 Players

The Raiders have made their slew of cuts. They placed defensive tackle Justin Ellis on injured reserve, meaning he’ll miss the entire season. After starting 14 games in 2017, Oakland signed Ellis to a three-year, $15MM extension. Injuries limited him to just six games last season, so he’ll have barely played through the first two years of that extension.

Former Rams defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks also got the boot. He started nine games for Los Angeles in 2017 and racked up four sacks. Last year he had a smaller role, although he did appear in all 16 games for the Rams. ‘Hard Knocks’ star Keelan Doss unfortunately failed to make the roster. He’s an undrafted rookie receiver from UC Davis. Additionally Keith Smith, who served as the team’s fullback last season, was released.

Waived:

WR Marcell Ateman
DE Quinton Bell
RB James Butler
LB Jason Cabinda
LB Te’von Coney
G Lester Cotton Sr.
WR Keelan Doss
LB Koa Farmer
WR Rico Gafford
WR Keon Hatcher
G/T Denver Kirkland
CB Dylan Mabin
T Justin Murray
CB Nick Nelson
WR De’Mornay Pierson-El
T Tyler Roemer
DT Anthony Rush

Released:

FB Keith Smith
DE Ethan Westbrooks
LB Kyle Wilber

Waived/injured:

TE Paul Butler

Placed on season-ending injured reserve:

DT Justin Ellis

Raiders Sign 10 UDFAs

Teams continue to announce their undrafted free agent hauls. Here is the Raiders’ 10-man contingent:

Going heavy on offensive linemen after a nine-player draft did not bring any blockers, the Raiders added some big-school talent with extensive starting experience. Cotton started 28 games for the Crimson Tide, at both left and right guard, helping Bo Scarbrough, Damien Harris and Raiders first-rounder Josh Jacobs to big per-carry numbers. McNeil has both guard and tackle experience and was a key presence (46 starts in a four-year career) in helping Lamar Jackson to two dominant seasons with the Cardinals.

The duo, along with James and Roemer, will battle to join 2018 second-round pick Brandon Parker among the Raiders’ backup linemen. With Brandon Marshall and Vontaze Burfict signed to one-year deals, the Raiders’ Las Vegas tenure may need some new blood at linebacker. The Raiders did not draft one, so Coney (two 100-plus-tackle seasons with the Fighting Irish) and Farmer (28 starts with the Nittany Lions) figure to be candidates to stick around via the 53-man roster or, more likely, the practice squad.

Doss said he received better offers than what the Raiders proposed, but UC Davis’ all-time receiving leader opted to play for his hometown team (before it relocates to Vegas next year). Jon Gruden mentioned pre-draft that he wanted to add at least one more cornerback to the roster, but the Raiders drafted both Trayvon Mullen (in Round 2) and Isaiah Johnson (in Round 4). That will make Mabin and Nixon’s paths to the active roster difficult.

AFC Notes: Raiders, Incognito, Ravens, Ansah

Some assorted notes from around the AFC…

  • Mutual interest exists between the Raiders and Richie Incognito, but the team is hesitant at the moment because of the suspension the embattled guard is likely to receive. The former Rams, Bills and Dolphins guard obviously has a checkered past, and the Raiders would like some clarity on the soon-to-be 36-year-old’s situation before moving forward, Vic Tafur of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Jon Gruden‘s failed gamble on Martavis Bryant last year factors into this caution, Tafur writes, though it does not sound like an Incognito ban would nix a potential deal.
  • The Raiders have added the following players to their wideout room: Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Ryan Grant, J.J. Nelson, Hunter Renfrow and Jalin Marshall. They also re-signed return specialist Dwayne Harris. But Gruden told UDFA Keelan Doss he has a “solid” chance of making the 53-man roster, Tafur writes (subscription required). An Alameda, Calif., native, Doss turned down better offers from other teams to play with his hometown squad, Tafur adds. Doss finished his UC Davis career with 312 catches and 4,069 yards — both school records.
  • Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley is currently slotted in as the Ravens‘ third quarterback behind Lamar Jackson and Robert Griffin III, but the team may have bigger plans for the rookie. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic writes that the team is envisioning him playing a similar role to Taysom Hill on the Saints. McSorley is expected to take a few reps at quarterbacks, get a handful of carries, contribute on special teams, and perhaps make a few cameos at safety.
  • Zrebiec also believes the Ravens will make a push to sign defensive lineman Ezekiel Ansah. The organization already met with the free agent several weeks ago, and it was rumored that the 29-year-old would wait to sign a contract until he wasn’t attached to a compensatory pick. Ansah appeared in just seven games for the Lions last year before his shoulder took him out of action. However, Ansah has shown serious potential in the past with two 12+ sack seasons. As recently as 2017, Ansah profiled as one of the best edge rushers in the game.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.