Raiders Rumors

Raiders Skipping Offseason Workouts

Add another team to the list of squads that will be skipping in-person offseason workouts. Via the NFLPA (on Twitter), Raiders players announced that they will not be attending their voluntary workouts.

“We have come together as a team to discuss the important issues related to our health and safety,” the statement read. “We know the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on our membership, our families and our home city of Las Vegas this past year, and we continue to feel for everyone in our community and our country who has been impacted by the coronavirus.

“Given the data and facts shared by our union about rescued injuries and other health benefits of the virtual off-season last year, players from our team will not participate in a voluntary in-person workout program. We respect those players on our team and across the NFL who have contractual incentives linked to their participation in the program, but we stand in solidarity with our fellow players who are making the best decision on behalf of themselves and their families.”

Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review Journal tweets that the player vote was not unanimous, but a decision was ultimately made “to move forward together.” The reporter also notes that “accommodations” will also be made for players who had incentives tied to these voluntary workouts.

The Raiders join a long list of teams that have announced that they’ll be opting out of these workouts, a grouping that includes the Seahawks, Giants, Browns, Bears, Patriots, Lions, Buccaneers, and Broncos.

The NFL recently responded to some player complaints with a memo touting the benefits of in-person workouts at team facilities, which you can read courtesy of this tweet from Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. The league points out that any player who gets hurt at an in-person workout will be covered financially, but a player who gets hurt while working out on their own won’t be.

Raiders Cut Arden Key, Maurice Hurst

The Raiders are making some big cuts on their defensive line. Las Vegas has waived defensive end Arden Key and defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

The Raiders have already added free agents like Yannick Ngakoue and Quinton Jefferson this offseason, making these guys more expendable. Both Key and Hurst were drafted by the Raiders in 2018, Key in the third-round and Hurst in the fifth. Hurst was initially viewed as a much better prospect, and potentially a first-rounder, until a heart condition was discovered just before the combine.

That heart issue was initially feared to be career-threatening, but fortunately Hurst was able to be cleared to play. He fell to 140th overall though, costing him a lot of money in the process. In the end, neither player made it to the end of their rookie deals.

Key started 10 games as a rookie but was used as a rotational player this past year. Despite playing around 40 percent of the defensive snaps, he finished with no sacks. The LSU product was the 87th pick in 2018 and is still only 24, so he should get scooped up before too long.

Hurst, who will turn 26 next month, was fairly productive his first two years in the league. From 2018-19, he had 7.5 sacks, six passes defended, an interception, and a couple of fumble recoveries. He was limited to 11 games this past year, finishing with 27 tackles, a half sack, and one pass defended.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/15/21

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Cleveland Browns

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

  • Cut: QB Kyle Sloter

New Orleans Saints

Broncos, Seahawks, Bucs To Skip Onsite Offseason Workouts

6:33pm: Add the Buccaneers to this list. The defending Super Bowl champions will follow the Broncos and Seahawks, with players voting to skip onsite workouts (Twitter link). They will move forward virtually.

6:01pm: Absent an agreement between the NFL and NFLPA on how this offseason will be structured, teams can begin holding voluntary workouts April 19. As of Tuesday, at least two teams are not on track to do so.

Broncos and Seahawks players voted to skip the voluntary portion of this offseason’s workouts — which covers everything except the yet-to-be-scheduled June minicamp — due to COVID-19 concerns.

With offseason programs starting in less than a week and without adequate protocols in place in order for us players to return safely, we will be exercising our right to not participate in voluntary offseason workouts,” Broncos players said in a statement (Twitter link); Seahawks players’ statement can be read here (Twitter link). “COVID-19 remains a serious threat to our families and to our communities, and it makes no sense for us as players to put ourselves at risk during this dead period.”

[RELATED: NFL Mandates COVID-19 Vaccine For Team Employees]

This comes shortly after NFLPA president J.C. Tretter urged players to boycott OTAs. Broncos union rep Brandon McManus notified Vic Fangio of this decision to begin the offseason virtually Tuesday morning, Troy Renck of Denver7 notes. Thus far, 22 Broncos players have worked out at the team facility this offseason, per several reports, though McManus added most of the players that have done so are rehabbing injuries. Broncos players have not received an outlined plan regarding protocols for an onsite offseason program, according to McManus. Testing is an issue for many players, per ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold, with workouts going Monday through Thursday and players receiving the other three days off.

The league and the union have spent several weeks negotiating offseason parameters, as the sides did last year, but no deal has been reached. Suspicion exists in NFLPA ranks that the NFL is running out the clock until April 19 to create a scenario where teams can begin holding workouts with no agreement in place, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Last year, the NFL conducted an entirely virtual offseason. Some onsite work is expected this year, but barring an agreement between the league and the union, the Broncos, Seahawks and perhaps other teams may hold fully virtual offseasons again.

It will be interesting to see how other teams proceed. (Raiders players will discuss how they plan to navigate this issue Wednesday, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Vincent Bonsignore.) Hundreds of players have workout bonuses at stake, and the prospect of certain teams conducting onsite workouts while others meet virtually would create a historically unusual dynamic that could create a potential advantage for certain squads.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Karl Joseph Never Wanted To Leave Raiders

Karl Joseph is back with the Raiders. The safety agreed to a deal earlier this week to return to the team that drafted him in the first-round back in 2016, and as he tells it, he never wanted to leave. “I never wanted to leave,” Joseph said, via Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review Journal. “This is my home. I was drafted here. I feel like I was born to be a Raider.” Joseph would’ve still been a Raider in 2020 if the team hadn’t declined his fifth-year option.

Instead, he ended up signing a one-year contract with the Browns. Clearly there were no hard feelings about the option getting declined, because he’s back with Jon Gruden now. “It felt like the right decision was to come back and help finish what I started here and be a part of that,” he explained. “All the pieces are there,” Joseph raved. “I think we’re ready to win. So whatever I’m going to need to do to help us win, that’s what I am going to do.” We still haven’t gotten the financial terms on Joseph’s new Raiders deal, so those will be interesting to see.

Raiders Bring Back S Karl Joseph

Karl Joseph will return to the Raiders. The former Oakland first-round pick, who landed in Cleveland last year, agreed to terms with his former team Friday after trekking to Las Vegas for a visit.

The Raiders drafted Joseph in the 2016 first round and used him as a starting safety for most of his tenure. Joseph, who also visited the Steelers this offseason, will return to help fill the Silver and Black fill a major need.

This move comes nearly two years after the Raiders passed on Joseph’s 2020 option season. The West Virginia product’s initial Raiders run ended earlier, with a foot injury halting his 2019 season midway through. Joseph will now rejoin Johnathan Abrams on the Raiders’ defensive back line. These two started in Week 1 of the 2019 season, but Abrams’ season-ending injury that night made he and Joseph’s on-field time together brief.

Last season, Joseph started eight Browns games — out of the 14 he played — and finished with his worst Pro Football Focus assessment. PFF viewed Joseph as better during his Raiders seasons but slotted him outside the top 70 safeties last season. The 27-year-old defender made 67 tackles, intercepted a pass and recovered two fumbles with Cleveland. He added a playoff interception in Kansas City, doing so after spending time on the Browns’ reserve/COVID-19 list late last season.

Las Vegas may still be in play for a safety in the draft, but Joseph minimizes that need. The Raiders have experienced rampant trouble in pass defense over the past decade and change; their issues last season led Jon Gruden to fire DC Paul Guenther. Gus Bradley will call the shots next season, giving Joseph a third defensive system in three seasons and a fourth over the past five. PFF graded Joseph as a top-25 safety in 2018, his most recent full season with the Raiders, and he has started 41 games with team. It should be expected he will add to that total in 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

S Karl Joseph Visiting Raiders

Karl Joseph could be reuniting with the Raiders. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the free agent safety is visiting with the Raiders tonight. Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal describes the visit as “a “weighing all options” sort of deal,” with the Raiders evaluating their options prior to the draft (Twitter link).

Joseph signed a one-year deal with the Browns last offseason, and he proceeded to have a bounce-back season for his new squad. He appeared in 14 regular season games (eight starts), compiling 67 tackles, two tackles for loss, four passes defended, and one interception. He also came up big in the playoffs for the Browns; he recovered a botched Steelers snap for a touchdown, and he intercepted a pass by Chiefs quarterback Chad Henne. This was an improvement from his final season with the Raiders in 2019, when Joseph was limited to nine games due to a foot injury.

The Raiders selected Joseph with the 14th-overall pick in the 2016 draft, and he earned All-Rookie Team honors after starting nine games during his rookie campaign. He started 15 games in 2017, compiling a career-high 79 tackles to go along with one sack and one interception. The defensive back seemed to fall out of favor once Jon Gruden was hired, as he was limited to only 11 snaps through the first eight weeks of the 2018 campaign. He ended up starting during the second half of that season, but his fifth-year option was predictably declined during the offseason, spelling the end of his tenure with the team.

Joseph would probably have a chance to play in Las Vegas, as he’d compete with the likes of Dallin Leavitt and Jeff Heath for snaps. We heard recently that the veteran had at least one other suitor in the Steelers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: K. Miller, Lockett, McCoy

Catching you up on the details of a few recently-signed deals:

  • Raiders LT Kolton Miller: Three-year extension to keep Miller under club control through 2025. This looks like a fairly team-friendly deal. Miller was paid a $2MM roster bonus today and will earn a $9.5MM salary this year. He is also due a guaranteed $13.5MM roster bonus in 2022, but beyond a few $50K workout bonuses in 2022 and 2024-25, all of the money is in the form of non-guaranteed salary. His salaries from 2022-25 are $3.275MM, $14.225MM, $12.256MM, and $12.256MM (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com).
  • Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett: Four-year extension to keep Lockett under club control through 2025. $19MM signing bonus. $13MM option bonus in 2022. Base salaries from 2021-25 are $2MM, $3MM, $9.7MM, $15.3MM, and $15.3MM. $1.6MM roster bonuses in 2024 and 2025 (Twitter link via Yates). 2021 cap hit of $9.25MM (previously $14.95MM).
  • Cardinals QB Colt McCoy: One-year deal. Veteran salary benefit. Worth $1.2MM with $137K guaranteed and counts $987K against the cap. Twitter link via Dan Duggan of The Athletic.

West Notes: M. Jones, Seahawks, Clinton-Dix

It has been looking increasingly likely that the 49ers will draft Alabama passer Mac Jones with the No. 3 overall pick of this year’s draft, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter said just yesterday that Jones would be the Niners’ pick. But Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network isn’t as convinced. On a recent PFN Draft Insiders podcast (link), Pauline said he is hearing that whether San Francisco goes with Jones or one of Justin Fields or Trey Lance is a 50-50 proposition.

Of course, this time of year is notorious for false leaks and misinformation, but the Niners are at least doing their due diligence on Fields. The Ohio State QB will hold a second pro day, and 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch are expected to attend.

Now for a few more West-related items:

  • The 49ers have hosted DL Ronald Blair on a visit, as ESPN’s Field Yates tweets. Blair, whom the Niners selected in the fifth round of the 2016 draft, was a useful piece of the team’s pass rush rotation during his first few years in the league, but he suffered a torn ACL in November 2019, and it was later revealed that the ensuing surgery was not successful. Though he re-upped with San Francisco on a one-year deal last March, he did not play in a single game in 2020.
  • Cornerback Quinton Dunbar recently signed with the Lions, but the Seahawks wanted to retain him, per Brady Henderson of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Seattle has lost both Dunbar and Shaquill Griffin in free agency, and though the club did bring Ahkello Witherspoon aboard, CB is still an area of need.
  • The Seahawks continue to seek offensive line depth. According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, Seattle visited with guard Cody Wichmann today (Twitter link). Wichmann, a sixth-round pick of the Rams in 2015, has managed to land a couple of reserve/futures contracts and a spot on the Cowboys’ practice squad in 2018, but he hasn’t played in a regular season game since 2016. He has 18 career starts to his credit.
  • After the first few weeks of the new league year, the Raiders still have a glaring need at safety, but they don’t seem too worried about it. According to Vic Tafur of The Athletic, the only FA safety Vegas was in on early was Rayshawn Jenkins, who inked a four-year, $35MM deal with the Jaguars. Players like Kenny Vaccaro, Duron Harmon, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix remain available, and the Raiders actually had Clinton-Dix in for a visit in March. Tafur suggests that the 28-year-old may have an offer in hand from Vegas and could be waiting for the market to pick back up before agreeing to a deal.

Jon Gruden Wanted Kenyan Drake In 2020

  • Prior to the Cardinals using the transition tag on Kenyan Drake, Jon Gruden was interested in signing the running back last year, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic (subscription required). The Raiders showed significantly more interest in Drake than anyone else this offseason, per Drake, whom Gruden plans using in the backfield and at wide receiver. Drake’s two-year, $11MM deal includes just $3MM guaranteed in 2021, per Tafur, but carries $5.5MM in guarantees in 2022. Drake totaled just 127 receiving yards with the Cardinals last season, but the former third-round pick should be expected to play a bigger role in the passing game in Las Vegas.
  • The Raiders considered cutting their losses on Carl Nassib‘s three-year, $25MM contract, Tafur adds, but the team instead decided to keep the rotational pass rusher on a restructured deal (subscription required). The team added three void years to Nassib’s contract, spreading out the cap hit through 2025. Nassib is on the Raiders’ cap sheet at just $4.9MM this year; that number rises to $9.2MM in 2022. Releasing Nassib next year would tag the Raiders with a $4.6MM dead-money hit.
  • Drafted third overall as a defensive end four years ago, Solomon Thomas will primarily work as a three-technique tackle with the Raiders, according to Tafur. Thomas is in line to replace Maliek Collins, who defected to the Texans in free agency. A four-year 49ers contributor, Thomas has not come close to living up to his top-five draft status. The Raiders gave him a one-year deal worth $3.25MM.