Oakland Raiders Rumors & News

Raiders Sign Six Draft Picks

  • The Raiders have announced the signings of six picks, meaning they’ve now locked up two-thirds of their nine-player draft class. Fourth-round offensive lineman David Sharpe, fifth-round linebacker Marquel Lee and four seventh-rounders – Shalom Luani (defensive back, Washington State), Jylan Ware (offensive tackle, Alabama State), Elijah Hood (running back, North Carolina) and Treyvon Hester (defensive tackle, Toledo) – are now under contract. The 6-foot-6, 343-pound Sharpe was the No. 1 left tackle at Florida over the two previous years, starting 26 games, though he’s likely to serve as a guard in the pros, according to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com. Lee, meanwhile, saw action in all four of his years at Wake Forest and racked up 100 tackles in two of those seasons. All told, he amassed 41 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks (7.5 last year) with the Demon Deacons. Despite that impressive production, Zierlein regards Lee as more of a potential backup linebacker/special teamer than a starter in the NFL.

Calvin Johnson A Guest At Raiders Practice

Former Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson has been observing Raiders practices this week as a guest of offensive coordinator Todd Downing, per Eddie Paskal of Raiders.com. Downing was on Detroit’s staff from 2009-13 – a large portion of Johnson’s career – and while it’s fun to imagine Megatron coming out of retirement to join the Raiders’ high-octane attack, there’s no indication he has any interest in doing so.

Derek Carr Extension Talks To Ramp Up?

Negotiations between the Raiders and quarterback Derek Carr are expected to gain steam following the conclusion of this week’s owner’s meetings, sources tell Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link).Derek Carr (vertical)

Any deal between Oakland and Carr is likely to be a “strong step above” the five-year, $122.97MM extension the Colts handed fellow signal-caller Andrew Luck last summer. Luck is currently the highest-paid quarterback in the league with a $24.594MM annual salary, but Carr could conceivably top that figure.

Carr, 26, may hold a bit more leverage than did Luck, as the Raiders don’t hold a fifth-year option on Carr given that he was originally a second-round selection. Oakland could deploy the franchise tag in 2018 at a cost of more than $22MM, but the club prefers not to use that tender, per Cole.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said in April that he’s been discussing an extension with Carr “for months”, and characterized those talks as “super positive.” Both McKenzie and Carr have expressed confidence that a new deal will get at some point.

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Raiders Discussed Terms With Perry Riley

  • Perry Riley received steady playing time despite being picked up during the season, and the Raiders attempted to gauge what it would take to bring back the middle linebacker, Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (on Twitter). It sounds like the negotiations progressed well, with numbers being exchanged, but Tafur reports the sides couldn’t agree on a figure that would bring Riley back for a second Raiders year. Reggie McKenzie said earlier this month the door isn’t closed on that prospect, but Tafur said the team will attempt to see what it has on its defensive second level before revisiting a Riley reunion. The former Redskins starter will be going into his age-29 season. The Raiders did not use a high draft pick on a linebacker and have several uncertain cogs vying for time in the middle alongside Bruce Irvin and UFA addition Jelani Jenkins.

Derek Carr Confident About Talks

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has “complete faith” that a deal will get done before training camp, as Anthony Galaviz of the Fresno Bee writes.

I have an agent who is in charge of that and I am confident that he and [GM Reggie McKenzie] will work it out. I am only focused on becoming a better football player and helping my teammates become better players,” Carr said. “These things take time. The Raiders know I want to be here; this is my family, and I know they want me to be their quarterback.”

6 Possible Fits For Victor Cruz

Victor Cruz is starting to generate some interest months after the Giants ended his lengthy New York tenure in February. But the slot receiver is far removed from his best seasons, ones that occurred before multiple leg injuries sidetracked his career.

But there’s still a market for the 30-year-old wideout, probably on a short-term arrangement to see what the former Pro Bowler has left. Cruz met with the Panthers before the draft, but they went in another direction. The 2012 Pro Bowler also went on visits to discuss a potential role with the Jaguars and Bears last week, and the Ravens expressed interest as well.

Here are some of the fits for Cruz as he attempts to re-establish himself on another team following the down years that marred the second half of his Giants tenure:

  • Ravens — Baltimore lost both Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken and has done little to help its receiving corps this offseason. The Ravens did not draft a wideout despite a depth chart that’s headlined by 2016 street free agent Mike Wallace and injury risk Breshad Perriman. Cruz would stand to be a far more proven inside complement for this team compared to what is currently on the roster. A rumored Cruz/Ravens summit hasn’t occurred yet, but the Ravens are believed to be targeting veteran UFAs that would likely serve niche roles this season.
  • Raiders — Oakland made some flashy additions to an offense that was already among the league’s best. Marshawn Lynch, Jared Cook and Cordarrelle Patterson will see plenty of time for the rejuvenated team, but the Raiders still don’t have a surefire No. 3 wide receiver. Former UDFA Seth Roberts did not build on his promising spurts in 2015, and Patterson has made his name as a kick returner. The former first-round pick hasn’t been a consistent receiving threat. The Raiders are targeting extensions for Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson and Khalil Mack, but a low-end Cruz pact — likely for one year — wouldn’t stand to impede those pursuits much.
  • Browns — If Cruz visited the Bears, he’s not dead set on playing for a team in position to contend now. The Browns look to have made a mistake by cutting Taylor Gabriel last summer, and they don’t have much beyond Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman despite a sizable wideout corps acquired in last year’s draft. Cruz doesn’t fit a rebuilding team, but Cleveland has young quarterbacks Cody Kessler and DeShone Kizer. A better target to help over the middle would stand to aid in these passers’ development. Cruz did haul in 39 passes for 586 yards last season; that’s over 300 more than any current Browns WR3 candidate did.
  • Jaguars — The obvious connection to Tom Coughlin makes this avenue somewhat viable, and the parties getting together for a meeting makes Jacksonville a candidate. It’s just more difficult to see where Cruz would play than some of these other teams. The Jags already have starters Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, and Marqise Lee put together his best season in 2016. While Robinson and Lee are UFAs after the season, Cruz as of now does not profile as a player that would command a multiyear deal and factor into longer-term planning.
  • Lions — Detroit has two locked-in starters in Marvin Jones and Golden Tate, and the franchise selected 6-foot-4 wideout Kenny Golladay in Round 3. The Lions, though, could still use another veteran here, especially if Ameer Abdullah‘s injury history continues to force passing-down specialist Theo Riddick — himself a season-ending injury casualty last season — into the backfield. That said, the Lions are a candidate to re-sign Anquan Boldin, which would negate this path.
  • Bears — Also an interesting match despite the visit, Chicago has lost some marquee receiving weapons in recent years. Brandon Marshall made another franchise regret a trade in 2015, and Alshon Jeffery‘s defection to the Eagles leaves the Bears in transition mode here. Kevin White‘s rampant injury struggles don’t make the former top-10 pick a safe bet either, leaving Cameron Meredith as their de facto WR1. But the Bears signed both Kendall Wright and Markus Wheaton. While neither can match Cruz at his best, and both did not thrive in their contract years, but Chicago adding both may make the ex-Giant superfluous and create some interesting debates on which wideouts to shuttle to special teams.

Which of these teams do you think would be the best fit for the would-be eighth-year veteran? Who did we leave off that you think would make for a logical destination? Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Confident About Derek Carr Deal

Amidst whispers that Derek Carr is growing frustrated with the pace of contract negotiations, Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie is adamant that things are fine between the team and its franchise quarterback. In an interview with 95.7 The Game, McKenzie reiterated that his relationship with Carr is still strong and expressed confidence in a deal coming together. Derek Carr (vertical)

I see Derek every day. We have a great relationship and communicate very well,” McKenzie said (via Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com). “That’s not going to be an issue at all. As far as the contracts go, I don’t like discussing contracts outside these walls. I kind of keep that as my mantra, to keep that in house. But the bottom line is that we love Derek and we want to keep him. We’re going to everything to make sure this contract gets done.”

Carr is one of the game’s top quarterbacks and he’s likely looking for a deal that will reset his market as the position. The QB is happy being a Raider, but there are no indications that he will give the team a hometown discount on an extension.

The Raiders will have Carr under club control through 2018 thanks to his fifth-year option, but going year-to-year after that point via the franchise tag would be costly and potentially contentious. Carr is eager to sign a new contract and the Raiders would like to lock him in place for years to come, so it seems like the odds of a deal getting done this year are still pretty high.

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Raiders’ Aldon Smith Not Close To Return

It doesn’t sound like we’ll see Aldon Smith reinstated anytime soon. The linebacker has said that he’ll be back soon, but sources close to Smith say that he has made no consistent effort to follow the program laid out for him by the league, sources tell Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). Those who know him best say that he’ll have one great week followed by a week of the same old problems. Aldon Smith (vertical)

Smith’s camp was pushing for reinstatement late last season, but commissioner Roger Goodell decided to table that discussion until March 2017. In between December and March, Smith found himself under police investigation for an alleged domestic violence incident and in a separate incident was arrested for crashing into a police cruiser while driving drunk. Those events put up major barriers between Smith and a potential return and it sounds like he’s only setting himself back further with his erratic behavior.

Prior to the draft, GM Reggie McKenzie indicated that the Raiders were not banking on having Smith return in 2017.

“Our thought process is on the draft and not considering Aldon at this point,” McKenzie said. “He’s still on the suspension list, so we’re not considering him at this point.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor AFC Transactions: 5/15/17

Teams are doing lots of spring cleaning today, so we’ll split the moves into two separate posts for each conference. First up, the AFC:

  • The Raiders announced the signing of safety Marcus McWilson. A Kentucky product, McWilson played in 13 games for the Wildcats in 2016, racking up 108 tackles (4.5 for loss) and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown.
  • Following suit on a busy transaction day for fringe roster cogs, the Ravens added four UDFAs to their offseason roster. Baltimore added linebacker Randy Allen (South Alabama), wide receiver Aaron Bailey (Northern Iowa), defensive back Jaylen Hill (Jacksonville State) and tackle Roubbens Joseph (Buffalo), Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com reports.
  • The Browns signed defensive backs Donte Carey and Najee Murray. Both players participated in the team’s rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. To make room, the team waived offensive lineman Josh Boutte.
  • The Titans signed defensive lineman Jimmy Staten, a fifth-round draft pick by Seattle in 2014. In addition to Staten, they inked defensive lineman Cameron Robbins (Northwestern), linebacker Johnny Ragin (Oregon), cornerback Trevon Hartfield (Southwestern Oklahoma State), and kicker Jordan Gay (Centre). Staten, Robbins, Ragin and Hartfield all took part in the team’s rookie minicamp. To make space, the Titans waived defensive lineman Roderick Henderson and linebacker Reshard Cliett.
  • The Jets announced the signing of linebacker Jevaris Jones and released fellow linebacker Austin Calitro.
  • The Colts signed free agent guard Blake Muir and four undrafted free agents: cornerback Dante Blackmon, safety Tyson Graham, wide receiver Al-Damion Riles, and offensive tackle Andrew Wylie. To make room for the new players, the team parted ways with center/guard Austin Blythe (a 2016 seventh-round pick) and cornerback Frankie Williams. The Colts also waived three 2017 UDFAs: wide receiver Jerome Lane, cornerback Chris Lyles, and guard Chris Muller.
  • The Bills have signed linebackers Abner Logan and Anthony Harrell while waiving safety Jeremy Tyler and linebacker Junior Sylvestre.

Lease Issue Could Delay Raiders’ Vegas Move

The Raiders received resounding approval to relocate to Las Vegas in March, but the timetable for that trip isn’t certain. And a lease agreement could delay the franchise’s plans.

With the next NFL owners’ meeting occurring later this month, Raiders president Marc Badain said, via Regina Garcia Cano of the Associated Press, if the Raiders can’t reach a lease agreement with Las Vegas, a “distinct possibility” exists the team’s move will be delayed a year. Mark Davis‘ fellow owners must approve the lease before the project can go forward, per Adam Candee of the Las Vegas Sun.

In order to approve a lease, you need full membership, and the league has four meetings a year: one in March, one in May, one in October and one in December,” Badain said following a public meeting of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority board. “So, if you miss the May deadline, you push to October, we would lose a year, and everybody wants to get this project going everybody wants to get these guys to work. So we didn’t want to miss that deadline.”

The present plan for the Raiders includes a move into their proposed $1.9 billion domed venue in 2020, but if the team can’t agree on a lease by the May 22 owners’ meetings in Chicago, it faces a prospect of this venture being delayed until 2021. Board chairman Steve Hill expressed confidence the agreement can be finalized, per Cano, who adds a 30-year lease is being discussed. A Thursday board meeting is on the agenda, with the subject of completing this lease front and center, Candee reports.

The NFL has directly asked us to attempt to have a lease approved by the owners meeting,” Hill said. “There has been no ‘get this done or else’ type of approach on this request.”

The Raiders have a lease option to play in Oakland through the 2018 season, although a possible contingency plan — in case this season goes poorly with the lame-duck team playing in front of a fanbase that again saw the franchise agree to leave — may exist that would allow the Raiders to depart the Bay Area early and play in a temporary venue in Vegas. But UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium is not viewed as an NFL-ready site presently, so the above delay could conceivably keep the team in Oakland through 2020.

However, the Raiders’ current city may bail before then. The Raiders want to play in Oakland until their Vegas palace is ready, but Candee reports Coliseum authority officials want to end the parties’ relationship after the 2018 season. That would obviously put the Raiders in a tough spot, with one or two in-between years clouding the process.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.