Raiders Rumors

Raiders S Johnathan Abram Seeing Expanded Role

Johnathan Abram‘s future with the Raiders both in 2022 and beyond seemed to be in question this offseason. His status as a starter was once in doubt, but his tenure under the team’s new coaching staff has begun with a somewhat surprising new role. 

As noted by Tashan Reed of the Athletic (subscription required), Abram has not only remained a starter, but he has seen time at a number of different positions. The 25-year-old has been aligned at both safety spots, but also inside and outside linebacker, along with cornerback and nickelback. That represents a stark contrast to the sense dating back to July that Abram could be relegated to backup duties.

That sentiment was fueled in part by the fact that veteran Duron Harmon was signed during free agency to compete for a first-team spot. On a larger scale, the team’s decision to decline Abram’s fifth-year option makes the 2022 campaign a contract year for the former first-rounder. Instead of being phased out, Abram has been an effective and productive member of new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham‘s unit.

The Mississippi State product has played all but one defensive snap through two weeks, making 19 tackles. He has also put up better numbers in coverage than his previous seasons in the league, something which had been a sore spot early in his career.

“He’s a smart guy,” head coach Josh McDaniels said. “I mean, we put a lot on him. He’s been able to handle the duality of the multiple roles that we’ve given him. He’s a big cog in terms of the overall communication on the defense.”

Staying healthy and in control with respect to his physicality will, of course, remain important factors in determining Abram’s success this season. If he continues to wear multiple hats, though, he could not only help the Raiders’ defense in general, but also boost his own free agent stock heading into the spring.

AFC Injury Updates: Bills, Raiders, Leonard

As the Bills head to South Florida for a noon matchup against a red-hot Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins, they have seen a tough challenge get tougher. Buffalo released an injury update on its website today reporting that the team expects to be without four starters: two in the secondary, in safety Micah Hyde and cornerback Dane Jackson, and two defensive tackles, Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips. Jackson, Hyde, and Phillips all left Monday night’s game with injuries, while Oliver will miss his second straight contest.

Jackson left the game last week after a collision that forced his head backwards in a scary-looking neck injury. He was taken off the field in an ambulance, but, luckily, avoided any major injury. Unfortunately, Jackson hasn’t been able to practice at all this week but has been able to be around the team at the facilities.

Hyde also suffered a neck injury, albeit a far less severe-looking injury than Jackson’s, that held him out of practice this week. Phillips left the game Monday with a hamstring injury and also was unable to practice this week. Oliver has been dealing with an ankle injury that held him out last week, as well.

Missing three starters in the secondary (cornerback Tre’Davious White remains on injured reserve) makes the prospect of facing Tagovailoa a bit more cumbersome one week after he threw for 469 yards and six touchdowns against a banged up Ravens secondary. They’ll turn to rookies Christian Benford and Kaiir Elam to fill in at cornerback with help from veteran Bills cornerbacks Taron Johnson and Siran Neal. Damar Hamlin and Jaquan Johnson will be asked to step up in Hyde’s absence, as well.

With both Phillips and Oliver out on the defensive line, it’s a good bet that the Bills will mirror their gameday practice squad call-ups from last week in defensive tackles C.J. Brewer and Brandin Bryant.

Here are a few more Sunday injury statuses we learned about today, starting with a couple of big starters out in Sin City:

  • The Raiders are set to face off against the Titans this weekend without two Pro Bowlers as wide receiver Hunter Renfrow and linebacker Denzel Perryman are officially out, according to Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Hill also reports that, after missing two practices with an illness, running back Josh Jacobs is questionable to play this Sunday.
  • Despite initial reports in the preseason that Colts star linebacker Shaquille Leonard would not miss any time, the 27-year-old is set to miss his third straight game after being ruled out against the Chiefs this week, according to Mike Chappell of Indianapolis Fox59. Head coach Frank Reich told the media, “Deep down it’s the player. Deep down the player has to know he can play winning football and help this team win. That’s where we’ve got to get to.”

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/23/22

Today’s only practice squad moves:

Las Vegas Raiders

Guidry was brought in for cornerback depth a little over a week ago when Anthony Averett was placed on injured reserve. He made an appearance in the Raiders Week 2 game, only playing three special teams snaps, but was later waived to make room for tackle Justin Herron, who was acquired in a trade with the Patriots earlier this week. After clearing waivers, Guidry has returned as a member of the Raiders’ practice squad and can still contribute as a standard gameday elevation.

Raiders To Meet With LB Blake Martinez

The Giants made Blake Martinez a surprise cut just before season, releasing the veteran linebacker despite carrying him through to their 53-man roster. The seventh-year defender has resurfaced via multiple scheduled visits this week.

After meeting with the Ravens on Tuesday, Martinez will visit the Raiders on Friday, NFL reporter Jordan Schultz tweets. Martinez has a clear connection in Las Vegas, having worked with new Raiders DC Patrick Graham with the Giants and Packers.

Graham was in Green Bay as the team’s linebackers coach in 2018 and, after a year in Miami, was in New York when the Giants gave Martinez a three-year, $30.75MM contract in 2020. Martinez, 28, played two seasons on that deal, though the second one was interrupted by an ACL tear. The Giants cut bait two weeks ago, doing so despite taking on $7.5MM in Martinez dead money. The team had previously restructured Martinez’s deal this offseason.

When healthy, Martinez stands as one of the NFL’s most prolific tacklers. The former Packers fourth-round pick ripped off a four-season stretch in which he topped 140 tackles each year. He led the NFL with 144 stops in 2017 and notched 144 under Graham, while adding a career-high five sacks, the following year. In his lone healthy Giants slate, Martinez totaled 151 tackles (nine for loss) and three sacks. Big Blue’s Martinez and James Bradberry signings helped the team make a surprising defensive turnaround in 2020, when it ranked ninth in scoring defense in Graham’s debut season. That moved Graham’s name to the HC radar.

The Raiders currently have top inside linebacker Denzel Perryman sidelined due to an ankle injury. Perryman, who missed the Raiders’ Week 2 game against the Cardinals, has not practiced this week.

Patriots Trade OL Justin Herron To Raiders

The Patriots and Raiders have agreed on another trade. Months after the Pats sent Jarrett Stidham to the AFC West franchise, Justin Herron is headed to Las Vegas.

This deal will involve a 2024 pick swap, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Herron will see some familiar faces in Vegas, with longtime Patriots OC Josh McDaniels and ex-New England exec Dave Ziegler now running the Raiders. New England will receive Las Vegas’ 2024 sixth-round choice and send over a 2024 seventh-rounder in this swap, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets.

Although Herron has not suited up this season, he started 10 Patriots games between the 2020 and ’21 slates. The Pats drafted Herron in the 2020 sixth round. Herron, 26, worked as a backup tackle in New England. He will head to a Raiders team that has encountered right tackle instability.

The Raiders have used ex-Patriot Jermaine Eluemunor as their right tackle starter thus far, but the team has deployed a rotation on the right side of its offensive line. Seventh-round rookie Thayer Munford has rotated in at right tackle during each of Las Vegas’ first two games. This rotation comes after the Raiders cut 2021 first-round pick Alex Leatherwood and saw would-be right tackle starter Brandon Parker suffer a season-ending injury during the preseason. Herron could be in position to compete for a starting job. If nothing else, the Wake Forest product will supply depth.

Herron filled in for Trent Brown during part of the then-right tackle’s 2021 absence and filled in for then-left tackle Isaiah Wynn during part of his rookie year. Pro Football Focus did not view Herron’s 2021 work too positively, but his scheme familiarity and through-2023 rookie contract made him a target for a Raiders team experiencing some O-line turbulence.

To clear a roster spot, the Raiders are waiving cornerback Javelin Guidry, Rapoport adds (on Twitter). Should the speedy defender clear waivers, the Raiders plan to add him to their practice squad. The Raiders claimed Guidry off waivers from the Cardinals, who cut him shortly after claiming him on the wire from the Jets. Guidry played three special teams snaps for the Raiders against the Cards in Week 2.

CB Joe Haden Announces Retirement

After a 12-year career spent in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, Joe Haden is walking away from the game. The former Pro Bowl cornerback plans to retire, according to agent Drew Rosenhaus (via Pro Football Talk’s Josh Alper).

While Haden drew some interest this offseason, he did not sign with a team ahead of training camp. The 33-year-old defender ended his career as a 149-game starter. That ranks as a top-50 total in NFL history at cornerback. Among active corners, only Patrick Peterson has lined up as a first-stringer more often.

The Cardinals, Dolphins, Rams and Raiders showed interest this offseason, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter). Haden was said to be weighing offers. If so, none of the teams’ proposals did enough to convince him to play a 13th season, but Fowler adds the longtime starter entered free agency planning to do so.

The first cornerback chosen in the 2010 draft (No. 7 overall), Haden earned Pro Bowl nods with the Browns and Steelers. He spent time anchoring secondaries in Cleveland and, after a late-summer release in 2017, became a key figure on a few Steelers playoff teams. Lasting longer than most as a No. 1 corner, Haden made Pro Bowls with the 2013 and ’14 Browns and received his third invite in 2019 — at age 30 — with the Steelers. The 5-foot-11 defender ended his career with 29 interceptions; a six-INT rookie season did the most to bolster that total.

Haden signed a Browns extension in 2014 and played three seasons on that contract but was one of a few veterans to leave the team during its aggressive rebuild attempt from 2016-17. The Browns attempted to keep the ex-Florida Gator on a reduced salary and made efforts to trade him, but the team’s top corner instead ended up on the open market. Although Haden became connected to several other teams — the Dolphins, Eagles, Saints, Chiefs, Cowboys and 49ers — in free agency, he chose the Steelers after visit that occurred hours after his Browns exit. The short Rust Belt trek produced a three-year, $27MM deal, the first of Haden’s two Steelers agreements.

After the arrivals of Haden and T.J. Watt in 2017, the Steelers made a run at the AFC’s No. 1 seed. Ryan Shazier‘s injury and the controversial Jesse James touchdown overturn re-routed the 13-3 team to the No. 2 seed, and an eventual divisional-round loss, but that season began a lengthy Haden second act. The Steelers extended Haden in 2019 — a two-year, $22MM accord — and he ended up starting 67 games with his second NFL employer. That period produced top-10 total defenses from 2017-20 in Pittsburgh and three playoff berths. Haden angled for a third Steelers deal last year, but the team moved on via younger, cheaper options this offseason.

Haden ended up doing incredibly well for himself financially in the NFL, making more than $121MM in 12 years. He arrived during the last draft to feature monster rookie contracts for first-rounders, before the 2011 CBA changed the rookie salary scale, landing a five-year, $40MM deal in 2010. That figure eclipses what 2022 No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker signed for this offseason. The Browns gave Haden a five-year deal in 2014 (worth $67.5MM) as well.

Latest On Raiders’ Offensive Line Situation

The Raiders entered the season with one of the most highly-regarded skill-position groups in the league, but a number of questions on the offensive line. That was reflected by a rotation at multiple spots in Week 1, something which is expected to continue tomorrow. 

As noted by Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the team deployed two players at both right tackle and right guard, with starters Jermaine Eluemunor and Dylan Parham sharing time with Thayer Munford and Lester Cotton, respectively. Overall, the Raiders allowed five sacks in their loss to the Chargers, but the play of that quartet drew praise from the coaching staff, including offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi.

“I think they’ve earned the right to play again this week,” he said of the aforementioned linemen. The two starters drew encouraging PFF grades, but Bonsignore adds that Munford “will remain in the mix” for significant playing time. Of course, outside additions remain a distinct possibility as well.

The Raiders hosted a number of veterans earlier this week, including Billy Price. That resulted in a practice squad deal for the 27-year-old, who was a full-time starter for the Giants last season. In addition, Vegas worked out former Cardinal Justin Murray recently, along with far less experienced options in Myron CunninghamShamarious Gilmore and Willie Wright (Twitter link via SI’s Howard Balzer).

“We’re playing the guys that deserve to play,” head coach Josh McDaniels confirmed. “There are seven guys that played [Sunday] because they earned the opportunity with their performance throughout the course of the preseason and in training camp.”

With the rotation apparently set to continue for the foreseeable future, the Raiders will look to find a full-time starting unit while aiming for their first win tomorrow against the Cardinals.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/17/22

Today’s minor moves around the league, including practice squad elevations for tomorrow’s action:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

  • Promoted from practice squad: CB Daryl WorleyWR Raleigh Webb

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

New York Jets

New Orleans Saints

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Commanders

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/15/22

Today’s practice squad moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Tennessee Titans

  • Signed: DE Gerri Green

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/14/22

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Las Vegas Raiders

New York Jets

Seattle Seahawks