Hunter Renfrow

Raiders Activate TE Darren Waller, WR Hunter Renfrow

Derek Carr and the Raiders offense will be getting some significant reinforcement. The Raiders have activated tight end Darren Waller and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow from injured reserve, reports ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter).

Waller hasn’t seen the field since October but it took the front office a month to finally place him on IR, delaying his required four-game absence. After two-straight 1,000-yard campaigns in 2019 and 2020, Waller was limited to 665 receiving yards in 11 games in 2021. His hamstring injury has limited him to only five appearances in 2022, with the former Pro Bowler hauling in 16 receptions for 175 yards and one score. Waller inked a three-year, $51MM extension with the Raiders back in September.

Renfrow has dealt with a handful of injuries in 2022, limiting him to 21 receptions in six games before being sidelined. The 26-year-old was coming off a breakout campaign in 2021 that saw him haul in 103 receptions en route to a Pro Bowl nod. The wideout inked a $32MM deal with the organization during the offseason.

Without Waller and Renfrow in the lineup, the Raiders have been leaning heavily on Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs, with both players having already topped 1,000 yards from scrimmage. The Raiders second-leading receiver this season has been Mack Hollins, who has hauled in 47 catches for 588 yards and three touchdowns.

The Raiders made a handful of additional moves as they prepare for tomorrow’s game against the Patriots. Las Vegas promoted offensive linemen Sebastian Gutierrez and Jordan Meredith to the active roster. To make room for today’s transaction, the Raiders cut wide receiver DJ Turner and tight end Jacob Hollister.

Raiders’ Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow Return To Practice

Reinforcements are on the way for the Raiders on offense. Vegas has designated both tight end Darren Waller and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow to return from IR (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adam Schefter).

Waller has been out since mid-October, but it was not until one month after his most recent game played that the Raiders placed him on IR. A lingering hamstring injury has limited the Pro Bowler to just five contests in 2022, putting a significant dent in the team’s potential in the passing game. It also marked an unwanted beginning to his time after signing a three-year, $51MM extension in September.

Negotiations over a new deal dominated the summer, one in which the Raiders finalized a number of big-money contracts. Waller established himself as a preeminent tight end during the 2019 and 2020 campaigns, eclipsing 1,100 yards each year. Injuries limited him to 11 contests in 2021, however, and this season has obviously not gone according to plan. A return to the field, if not to his dominant form, could do wonders for the 30-year-old individually, and the Raiders’ offense as a whole.

Given the fact that Renfrow was placed on IR on the same day as Waller, it comes as little surprise that the pair are returning to practice simultaneously. The slot receiver was shut down while dealing with a myriad of injuries, and has suited up for six total games over the course of the season. His summer also included contract talks, and ended in a $32MM deal which came off the back of his Pro Bowl campaign in 2021. That, coupled with the addition of Davante Adams, led to significant expectations for the Raiders’ pass-catchers.

The team ranks just 12th in the league with an average of 246 passing yards per game, however, a sign of the inconsistency which has helped lead to a disappointing 5-8 record. Part of their middling performance can be attributed, of course, to the absence of Waller and Renfrow. Their return in the near future will help Vegas in their attempt to generate momentum at the end of the season, and leave the team with two IR activations available to be used.

Raiders To Place Hunter Renfrow On IR

Both of Davante Adams‘ top sidekicks will miss at least the next four games. Following the decision to place Darren Waller on IR, the Raiders will move Hunter Renfrow to the injury list, Adam Schefter of tweets.

Renfrow is dealing with an oblique injury, per Schefter. He appeared on Las Vegas’ injury report with hamstring and rib injuries, getting in a limited practice Wednesday. Rather than aim to fight through these maladies to face the Colts, Renfrow will be shut down until at least Week 14.

Unlike Waller, Renfrow has been available in recent weeks. The fourth-year slot receiver’s two missed games occurred in Weeks 3 and 4. Upon returning, however, Renfrow has not come close to the pace he was on in Jon Gruden‘s offense. The recently extended receiver has just 21 catches for 192 yards and no touchdowns in six games this season. Renfrow, 26, caught 103 passes for 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns last season, putting the former Day 3 draftee in position for a big 2022 payday.

The Raiders went to great lengths to lock in their top aerial personnel long term this offseason. They completed a tag-and-trade exchange with the Packers for Adams and gave him a then-record-setting five-year, $140MM extension. Derek Carr signed next, with Renfrow’s deal following during the summer. Just before Week 1, the team completed complex negotiations to finalize Waller’s contract.

Renfrow’s contract is the shortest, running through 2024. But he is tied to a $16MM-per-year accord, separating him from most pure slot players. The early returns in Josh McDaniels‘ offense have disappointed. Despite McDaniels’ Patriots attack churning out All-Pro seasons from Wes Welker and quality work from his successor (Julian Edelman), Renfrow has not taken flight. The Raiders have leaned more on low-cost free agency addition Mack Hollins compared to their well-paid slot. Hollins should be expected to shoulder more of the workload going forward, though the Raiders are not in a contending position at the midseason point.

The Adams-Waller-Renfrow trio has played just 62 snaps together this season, per The Athletic’s Tashan Reed (on Twitter). Adams also faces a possible suspension for shoving a cameraman following the Raiders’ last-second loss to the Chiefs. The Raiders have slunk to 2-6, losing a Week 8 shutout in New Orleans and blowing a 17-point lead in Jacksonville.

Despite his underwhelming start as Raiders HC, McDaniels is not believed to be on the hot seat. But his prospects for fielding a consistent offense took a major hit with Thursday’s developments. The Raiders have Hollins in place as a key auxiliary target. Keelan Cole and DJ Turner are the only other wideouts on the active roster. That will change soon. The Raiders traded their 2022 first-round pick for Adams, but they have their 2023 top choice. Considering the team’s record and minimized offensive personnel, that suddenly becomes more relevant.

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.”

AFC Notes: Jags, Renfrow, Steelers, Smith

Devin Lloyd notched two six-plus-sack seasons at Utah, being effective on blitzes with the Pac-12 team. The standout Ute finished with seven last season. The Jaguars may be planning to take advantage of the No. 27 overall pick’s versatility early. They aligned Lloyd on the edge during parts of their offseason program, Michael DiRocco of notes. New DC Mike Caldwell plans to use a 3-4 base scheme, but he has been intermittently stationing Lloyd at defensive end on third downs. That opens the door to some possibilities for the Jags, who were aggressive at the off-ball linebacker spots this offseason. Jacksonville gave Foyesade Oluokun a top-five ILB contract and drafted Wyoming’s Chad Muma in Round 3. The Jags are set to feature Josh Allen and No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker as their most prominent edge rushers, though DiRocco describes the 272-pound top pick as a work-in-progress as a 3-4 outside ‘backer. Nevertheless, the ex-Georgia defensive lineman has lined up at that position with Jacksonville’s first-team defense this offseason.

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Hunter Renfrow‘s two-year, $32MM Raiders extension comes with a $9.18MM signing bonus that will be spread out through five years (two void years, 2025 and ’26) for cap purposes, Albert Breer of notes. Renfrow is due a $4.32MM roster bonus on Day 3 of the 2023 league year, with Breer adding that day also will see the slot talent’s $6.5MM 2023 base salary become fully guaranteed. Renfrow is set to earn a nonguaranteed $11.2MM base in 2024.
  • New Bears GM Ryan Poles did not retain longtime staffer Mark Sadowski this offseason, but the veteran scout will catch on with another rookie GM. Omar Khan hired Sadowski as the Steelers‘ director of player scouting, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic tweets. Sadowski was most recently the Bears’ college scouting director.
  • While Sheldon White replaced longtime Steelers director of pro scouting Brandon Hunt, the team promoted Dave Petett to the assistant pro scouting director post, Kaboly adds (via Twitter). Petett, who has been with the Steelers since 2004, will move from the scouting level to a director gig. The Steelers are also promoting Cole Marcoux to director of football administration, a title Khan held for several years in the 2010s. Marcoux joined Khan in working with the Steelers’ salary cap in recent years.
  • Although Lovie Smith‘s fine did not match the penalties handed out to Mike McCarthy and Ron Rivera, the new Texans HC will lose $50K because of an OTA violation, Dan Graziano of tweets. This stems from a use of a prohibited drill involving linemen.

Raiders, Hunter Renfrow Agree To Extension

In an offseason full of big-money deals, the Raiders have taken care of another important piece of business. The team is signing receiver Hunter Renfrow to a two-year, $32MM extension, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). The deal includes $21MM in guaranteed money. 

Renfrow, 26, was a steady presence in the Raiders’ passing game during his first two seasons with the team. Despite only making 10 starts, he totalled 105 receptions, 1,261 yards and six touchdowns during that span. His ability to return to the form showed in his rookie campaign (which involved a punctured lung) in 2020 was noteworthy, but few would have expected the performance he delivered this past year.

Taking on a larger workload in a passing game dominated by tight end Darren Waller, the Clemson product took a major step forward in 2021. In no small part due to the time missed by the former, Waller comfortably led the team in receptions (103), yards (1,038) and touchdowns (nine). Those numbers helped lead the team to the playoffs, and earned him a Pro Bowl nod.

From a financial perspective, that production also made the former fifth-rounder a logical extension candidate. He has one year remaining on his rookie contract, which will pay him just over $2.5MM. This new pact will represent quite the raise, as well as a willingness from new general manager Dave Ziegler to make significant commitments to the team’s current offensive core. The Raiders have signed quarterback Derek Carr to lucrative new deal, and paired him with Davante Adams on another sizeable contract. Since Renfrow slots in as the No. 3 option in the passing game behind Adams and Waller, $16MM per year is a noteworthy figure, though he demonstrated this year that he can handle a heavy workload if necessary.

With each of their top pass-catchers now under contract for multiple years, the Raiders are in line to build upon last year’s success, and remain competitive in the AFC West for at least the short-term future.

Extra Points: Ebron, Lions, Renfrow

The Eric Ebron story took another twist this week, as his camp responded to the recent reports of disconnect between the tight end and the Colts. Soon after Ebron was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury, we heard that the Colts weren’t too happy with how everything played out. Indy’s head coach Frank Reich seemed to dispute Ebron’s account that the team was well-aware of his ankle issue, and said he had no idea anything was wrong. Ebron’s camp is now pushing back, with a source close to the UNC product telling Ian Rapoport of NFL Network that Reich “should not have been surprised” (Twitter link).

The source added that Ebron informed the Colts of his ankle issue prior to the season, and that he “took toradol shots for the injury before almost every game he played.” The implication from Indianapolis seemed to be that Ebron was essentially choosing to save himself for his impending free agency, and his camp obviously isn’t pleased with that narrative. As Stephen Holder of The Athletic summarizes in a tweet, this means that Reich is either “blatantly lying when he said he was blind sided,” or Ebron “was able to practice most of the season on a terribly painful ankle.” It’ll be interesting to see if this under the radar controversy impacts Ebron’s market this spring. The tenth overall pick of the 2014 draft had a huge first year in Indy, but had been a bit of a disappointment this season before going on IR. Given the sudden animosity between the two sides, it seems likely that he isn’t back with the Colts in 2020.

Here’s more from around the league on a quiet Saturday night:

  • It doesn’t look like Matthew Stafford is going to play for the Lions again in 2019, so his back injury is obviously legitimate. However, the league has taken issue with how Detroit went about reporting it. Stafford was a surprise scratch late in the week leading up to the team’s game against the Bears back on November 10th, and the league has determined the team was trying to gain a competitive advantage by being coy with the info. The league office has fined the organization $75K, head coach Matt Patricia $25K, and GM Bob Quinn $10K, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link).
  • When Raiders rookie receiver Hunter Renfrow went down with a rib injury and a punctured lung a couple of weeks ago, it initially looked like he’d miss the rest of the season. However, that might not be the case, per Scott Bair of NBC Sports. Renfrow hasn’t been placed on IR, and the team is holding out hope he’ll be able to return toward the end of the year. “We’re hopeful that he could return for the last game or two,” Oakland head coach Jon Gruden said, per Bair. Renfrow had really started to heat up before going down, so he would provide a big boost. The Raiders have gotten blown out in two straight games, but are still right in the thick of a very muddled AFC wildcard race at 6-6. Whether or not they’re still in the hunt for a playoff spot in the final week or two will likely determine whether or not they bring the Clemson product back.

Hunter Renfrow Out For Season?

Hunter Renfrow suffered a scary injury Sunday and may not return this season. The rookie slot target suffered a puncture lung and a broken rib in the loss to the Jets, Ian Rapoport of tweets, and Jon Gruden is not sure if the Clemson product will return in 2019.

Gruden acknowledged Renfrow may be done for the season (Twitter link). More tests are scheduled, but that would obviously be a blow to a resurgent Raiders team with designs on a playoff berth. The Raiders will travel to Kansas City in Week 13.

The fifth-round rookie took hard hits from Jet defenders Bless Austin and Henry Anderson and left the game. Renfrow still led all Raider receivers with three receptions for 31 yards in the 34-3 rout.

In the wake of Antonio Brown‘s bizarre Raiders stretch, Renfrow helped the team’s passing game recover. He has 36 receptions for 396 yards and two touchdowns. Only Tyrell Williams has more receiving yards than Renfrow among Raiders this season. The team will need to turn to trade acquisitions Zay Jones and Trevor Davis, along with potentially rookie Keelan Doss, more after this news.

Extra Points: Goodwin, Texans, Raiders

A handful of NFL players participated in last weekend’s “40 Yards of Gold” contest, but it sounds like all the participants are still awaiting their promised payout. Agent Will Sarubbi, who represents Vikings wideout Jeff Badet, told Ben Fischer of the Sports Business Daily that his client hasn’t received his promised $25K.

“The contract was explicitly clear,” Sarubbi said. “Jeff was an independent contractor who was promised $25,000 upon arrival, before the event on June 29. That has not been paid as of 5 p.m. today. It does not look likely it will be, based on the correspondence we have had.”

According to the report, players were given checks following the event, but they were told to wait to cash those checks until yesterday. Then, the players were told to ignore the checks and submit bank account information, at which time their payout would be sent via wire transfer. However, that money has yet to appear.

“As to whether the money’s there or not, I don’t know,” said agent Sean Lindsey. “I hope it is. The one thing I despise the most in this industry is individuals trying to take advantage of professional athletes. I don’t know if that’s what’s going on here. I hope not. But these guys need to get paid.”

49ers wideout Marquise Goodwin won the event and was set to take home the $1MM prize.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Former undrafted free agent Vyncint Smith had some standout moments as a rookie, and the Texans receiver is looking to take a step forward during his sophomore campaign. In fact, the 23-year-old said he’s already worked out with quarterback Deshaun Watson this offseason. “Oh yeah, we got together last summer,” Smith told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “We get together this summer to throw, build chemistry in a new environment or different environment with Deshaun and just have fun.” Smith appeared in seven games (one start) as a rookie, hauling in five receptions for 91 yards and one touchdown.
  • Raiders receiver Hunter Renfrow may have been selected in the fifth round of this past year’s draft, but that doesn’t mean the rookie can’t play a big role this season. Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area writes that Renfrow’s savviness and football IQ should help him carve out a role as a slot receiver. However, if the rookie proves that he’s not able to contribute right away, he could easily get passed by veteran Ryan Grant on the depth chart.
  • It sounds like rookie running back Josh Jacobs may sit out training camp, as his camp’s negotiations with the organization have not been going well.

Raiders Sign 5 Of 9 Draft Picks

The Raiders already have the majority of their draft class under contract. The following players have signed (all links to go Twitter):

Johnson, a converted wide receiver, notched two interceptions in each of his final two seasons at Houston. Heading into the draft, there was some buzz about him going as high as the second round, so the Raiders were undoubtedly thrilled to land him in the fourth.

Boy, we love him,” GM Mike Mayock said after the draft. “We’re a press corner team. Jimmy O’Neil, our defensive backs coach, he’s happier than I’ve ever seen him. So now we have some long, press corners that go along with Gareon and everybody else that we have. Gareon Conley, Daryl Worley, and all our guys. Bottom line, we’re ecstatic with those corners.”