Nathaniel Willingham

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.