Raiders Rumors

Extra Points: Packers, Martin, Draft, Raiders

Bashaud Breeland‘s workout parade concluded in Green Bay, but his Packers contract is nearly its expiration. The veteran cornerback would re-enter the market in a better position, doing so a year after a golf cart-related injury harpooned his value. But Breeland, who said many teams would not medically clear him after his foot injury, would be interested if the Packers approached him about staying before he hit the market. Although, he said the Packers have not discussed an extension with him yet.

If I have the opportunity, I would,” Breeland said, via Ryan Wood of Packersnews.com, of a possible extension or offseason Packers re-signing. “At this point in time, the Green Bay Packers have first dibs because I’m here. They can make it happen at any moment.”

The Packers are not known as extravagant spenders but are keen on locking up their own talent. Breeland has only played in four Packers games, but on Sunday, the former Redskins starter recovered a fumble and returned an interception 96 yards for a score. Both Tramon Williams and Davon House‘s contacts expire at season’s end as well, but the Packers still have recent high draft picks Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson and Kevin King locked up long-term. Next year’s cornerback market may include the likes of Darqueze Dennard, Ronald Darby, Bradley Roby and Bryce Callahan while also housing veterans Morris Claiborne, Kareem Jackson and Brent Grimes.

Here is the latest from around the league as Week 14 winds down.

  • Zack Martin re-aggravated his MCL sprain during the fourth quarter of the Cowboys‘ overtime win over the Eagles on Sunday, and Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes the All-Pro guard will likely be limited in practice this week. Martin has never missed a start in his five-year career, but MCL sprains are often multi-week injuries. The possibility Martin misses multiple games in order to right himself for an expected playoff game is on the table, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. If Martin does sit against the Colts, Connor Williams would start at right guard, per Archer.
  • So far, the prevailing word surrounding possible top-five pick Justin Herbert is another year in Eugene, Ore. But longtime evaluator Gil Brandt, now with NFL.com, tweets he would make substantial bet that the Oregon quarterback declares for the 2019 draft and becomes a top-five selection. Teams like the Giants, Jaguars and Buccaneers would likely be interested if Herbert left early.
  • Texas Tech wide receiver Antoine Wesley will depart school early. Responsible for 1,410 yards this season — third-most in Red Raiders history behind Michael Crabtree and Keke Coutee — Wesley announced Monday (on Twitter) he will leave Lubbock and head to the NFL.
  • Scot McCloughan could be a name to watch in the Raiders‘ GM or de facto GM search, Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes (subscription required). The former Redskins and 49ers GM interviewed with the Raiders for a position under Reggie McKenzie after the 2014 season, but Tafur notes McCloughan wanted personnel control. He then took Washington’s GM job before an ugly divorce. Jon Gruden and McCloughan’s tenures in Green Bay briefly overlapped in the mid-1990s, and Tafur notes McCloughan got along well with Jay Gruden in Washington.
  • The Broncos worked out 15 players on Monday. Defensive linemen Winston Craig, Jon Cunningham, Marcus Hardison and Christian Lacouture took part in the group audition, per Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). Defensive backs Jude Adjei-Barimah, Sojourn Shelton and Henre’ Toliver joined linebacker Greer Martini in working out in Denver, per Klis.

Latest On Raiders' Front Office Search

The long-anticipated Reggie McKenzie departure leaves the Raiders in search of a replacement, but Jon Gruden is not certain to be involved in the interview process that will lead to his new decision-making partner/lieutenant.

Jaguars player personnel director Chris Polian, Lions exec Jimmy Raye III and former Gruden Buccaneers coworker Mark Domenik have been loosely connected to the Raiders’ vacancy thus far. The team may want an executive who can push back against Gruden when necessary, per SI.com’s Albert Breer. College scouting director Shaun Herock is now filling in for McKenzie as GM, and Davis views Herock as a key organizational piece going forward. Gruden stopped short of proclaiming McKenzie’s right-hand man, player personnel director Joey Clinkscales, would have a long-term role. But Clinkscales remains in his post following McKenzie’s firing.

Raiders Name Shaun Herock Interim GM

Reggie McKenzie‘s exit will leave one of his lieutenants in his old role for the time being. The Raiders will promote Shaun Herock to the de facto GM role, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Herock, who followed McKenzie to Oakland from Green Bay in 2012, is expected to receive an interview for the full-time position, Rapoport adds. Herock previously served as the Raiders’ director of college scouting.

Although Herock was a McKenzie hire, Rapoport notes the 47-year-old executive is Jon Gruden‘s most trusted scout, at least among those he inherited from the McKenzie regime. While it would be a shock if the Raiders did go in-house to name McKenzie’s successor, they will use this arrangement for the time being. This may increase Herock’s chances of remaining with the organization after Gruden tabs the next front office boss.

He’s a very talented personnel man; he has a lot of Raider history. We’re going to lean on him,” Mark Davis said, via Jerry McDonald of the San Jose Mercury News. “… I expect him to be a big part of this organization going forward, honestly.”

The Raiders may not hire a full-time GM — at least, the new exec may not have that job title — but they are planning to look for a new point person for their front office to work with Gruden. Lions exec Jimmy Raye, Jaguars player personnel director Chris Polian and former Buccaneers GM Mark Domenik — who worked with Gruden during his Tampa Bay tenure — are among names to monitor thus far. The Raiders may be looking for someone with experience and fortitude to push back against Gruden, Albert Breer of SI.com notes.

After spending 19 years in the Packers’ scouting department, finishing his Green Bay tenure as college scouting director, Herock relocated to the Bay Area after McKenzie took the Raiders’ GM job. He’s served in the same role with the Raiders for the past seven years. Herock’s father, Ken Herock, was a former Raider player and exec who worked with Davis during the process that led to McKenzie’s hiring.

Latest On Raiders, Reggie McKenzie

On Monday afternoon, the Raiders released a statement to confirm the firing of longtime GM Reggie McKenzie.

We are grateful for everything Reggie has done for this organization as a player, executive and member of the Raider family,” the statement read. “The Raiders will immediately begin a search for a new front office executive.”

Curiously, the statement indicates that the Raiders will look “for a new front office executive,” which may mean that the club will not give anyone the title of GM for 2019.

Here’s the latest out of Oakland:

  • Those in the building say that Gruden actually liked McKenzie, even as Gruden picked apart the roster that he built, Albert Breer of The MMQB tweets. Things weren’t outwardly contentious between the two men, Breer hears, and he notes that McKenzie’s decision to set high asking prices for Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper actually paid off. Before each deal, there was speculation that McKenzie was looking to sandbag the efforts, but that does not appear to be the case in retrospect.
  • The Raiders may view executives such as Jimmy Raye III, Mark Dominik, and Chris Polian as candidates to become the new GM or chief of personnel, according to Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). And, despite previous rumors linking Redskins exec Bruce Allen to the post, Pelissero hears that Allen is not “on the front burner” for the Raiders at this time.

Raiders Fire GM Reggie McKenzie

The Raiders have parted ways with GM Reggie McKenzie, according to Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). McKenzie was given the chance to stay on board for the rest of the season, but it sounds like he’ll leave his post immediately. 

Rumors have circulated about McKenzie’s job security since the hiring of Jon Gruden in the offseason. The talk has picked up in recent weeks, though Gruden did his best to throw water on the fire when speaking to reporters on Sunday.

I don’t have any comment on that,” Gruden said (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of the Review-Journal). “We’re going to build this team back. I know that. We’re going to bring the Raiders back.”

At the time of Gruden’s hiring, owner Mark Davis insisted the two men would work in concert. That’s not how things played out. Gruden, who had control over the 53-man roster, brought in his own scouting staff including Dave Razzano, the club’s “Director of Football Research.”

McKenzie, a former NFL linebacker, worked for the Packers’ front office from 1994 through 2012. After that, he was hired as the Raiders’ GM, inheriting a team with an awful cap situation and depleted draft capital. McKenzie was not perfect, but he did manage to turn that club into a playoff team. Now that he’s on the open market, one can’t help but wonder if a return to the Packers is in the cards.

With Gruden and his own group of hand-picked advisors at the helm, the Raiders overhauled their roster this offseason, including the controversial trade of Khalil Mack to the Bears. The Raiders have lots of picks in the 2019 draft, but they don’t have a lot of 2018 wins after Gruden targeted over-the-hill free agents and benched many of them in favor of younger players.

On Sunday, the Raiders upset the Steelers (thanks in large part to Chris Boswell‘s slip) and improved to 3-10 on the year. If the season ended today, the Raiders would pick third and twice more in the first round (No. 25, 26) thanks to the trades of Mack and Amari Cooper.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders OL Jon Feliciano Done For The Season

Although the Raiders got a huge win over the Steelers today, they didn’t escape the game unscathed. Left guard Jon Feliciano suffered a calf injury that is believed to be season ending, a source told Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review Journal (Twitter link).

Feliciano, 26, was drafted by the Raiders in the fourth round back in 2015. He’s bounced between a starting and reserve role during his years with the team, and has started three games this season. Gehlken notes that he “not only finished the go-ahead TD drive but attempted to re-enter game for extra point”, and that “his toughness part of profile that stands to attract teams in March.”

Feliciano is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this spring, and could land a decent deal as the open market value for interior offensive linemen has sky-rocketed in recent years. Feliciano, a Miami product, has received below average but not poor marks from Pro Football Focus this year, but was graded better last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders To Undergo Front Office Overhaul

  • It has been obvious for some time that 2018 would be Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie‘s last year with the team, and La Canfora reaffirmed as much this morning. In addition to their GM, the Raiders will also be replacing several other members of their scouting and football operations staff, per La Canfora.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/4/18

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Carolina Panthers

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Oakland Raiders

San Francisco 49ers

Raiders Place Bryant, Nelson On IR

The season is already over for three Raiders players. Safety Reggie Nelson, wide receiver Martavis Bryant, and defensive end Shilique Calhoun have all been placed on IR, according to a club announcement. 

[RELATED: Raiders Designate Donald Penn For Return]

Bryant, dubbed the “White Tiger” by coach Jon Gruden for his special ability and inability to stay on the field, appeared in only eight games this season, recording 19 catches for 266 yards and zero touchdowns. It was his weakest showing to date – even in his ten-game rookie campaign, Bryant managed 26 catches, 549 yards, and eight scores. Bryant is headed for free agency in March, but his PCL injury and mysterious suspension (or, non-suspension) for drug use will make him a tough sell on a multi-year deal.

Nelson’s season is through thanks to a shoulder injury suffered on Sunday against the Chiefs. The three-year captain’s season ends with 29 tackles and two interceptions in eleven games. The veteran is also headed towards free agency this offseason, but it’s not clear whether the 35-year-old will look to continue playing.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Designate Donald Penn For Return

Left tackle Donald Penn will return to practice on Wednesday, Vic Tafur of The Athletic tweets. The move will trigger a three-week window for the club to bring him back from injured reserve. 

The move is a curious one for a few reasons. First, the Raiders’ season has been long over – at 2-10, winning will only serve to push the Raiders from the top of the draft order in April. Penn, meanwhile, may be a cap casualty candidate and a serious injury could leave the Raiders on the hook for his entire salary in 2019. As it stands, only $1.750MM of his 2019 income is guaranteed.

Also, by designating Penn for return, the Raiders are eliminating the possibility of Marshawn Lynch seeing the field again in 2018. The Raiders already burned one IR-DTR spot on defensive tackle Justin Ellis, so Lynch is now barred from playing in the club’s Christmas Eve home finale against the Broncos.

Penn appeared in 14 games for the Raiders last season, the first time in his career that he failed to appear in all 16 regular season contests. Pro Football Focus ranked him 23rd among eligible tackles, proving that the veteran still has something left in the tank. In his limited sample of four games this season, PFF gave him a putrid 47.0 overall score.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.