Raiders Rants: Marshawn Lynch Sitting and Derek Carr’s Trolling

It’s Week Two of the Preseason and here are some Raiders Rants on this week’s stories.

Marshawn Lynch

These days, it seems like everyone gave their take on the latest NFL protests happening across the league. Hue Jackson discouraged his players from doing it. Raiders legend Tim Brown questioned why Marshawn Lynch is bringing this attention to himself. Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said if it were him he would stand for the National Anthem.

Nonetheless, Marshawn Lynch sat during the National Anthem of the Raiders first preseason game. It wouldn’t have been a big deal if not for similar protests made by Colin Kaepernick and Michael Bennett.

In fact, Lynch himself downplayed it. He said it is something he has done over his entire career.

Either way, Lynch is from Oakland and he is playing there now. Oakland is historically one of the most socially conscious cities in the world. Thus, Lynch has every right to make whatever statement he wants.

As for old heads discouraging the behavior and encouraging players to stand for the national anthem… it is hard to blame them. These people came up during a different time than us. They lived in a time that was a lot less open to the human experience and less tolerant of different views. They stood in line and stayed in their lane so that this younger generation could say what they want on social media and continue to protest how we see fit.

Then again, who am I to say anything about how someone else might take offense to protestors or how old heads might see protestors. People of my shade aren’t getting brutally murdered… at least not at the same rate.

Derek Carr

On a lighter note, Derek Carr released a hilarious teaser of a music video. It came with a full site and photo shoot of what looked to be some sort of album or EP.

Carr later said it was all a joke but the internet ran with it. Players and media entertained the tweet. Don’t be surprised if you see the Raiders QB in a meme very soon.

Either way, this is one of the reasons why Carr is the perfect face to the Raiders franchise. Besides being a great player, leader, husband and father, he does not take himself too seriously. He isn’t above trolling the internet with some well-done and harmless fun.

Gareon Conley Update

Hooray! Gareon Conley was not indicted on rape or sexual assault accusations. It was all smiles from GM Reggie McKenzie as he was asked about the news. His first round pick agreed to a contract with the team after the legal issue was resolved.

After the Raiders selected Conley in NFL Draft, I wrote a piece that said this entire situation should make Raiders fans uncomfortable. Of course, Conley was always innocent until proven guilty but this entire ordeal perpetuated the Raiders stereotype for drafting players with questionable character. Granted, this has changed over the past few years but that was the mainstream perspective.

On a deeper level, we can’t act like this did not happen either. At the very least, Conley is guilty of bad judgment. All accounts say that he is a great guy with great character but he allowed himself to be put in that situation. Hopefully, this is one small blemish on a perfect public persona. Conley should learn not to trust everyone or every situation. Otherwise, another mess up could completely destroy his public image.

At the end of the day, this is a very sensitive matter. Conley could easily be our brother, best friend or son. The same is said for the woman who accused him. She could be our daughter, bestie or sister. Either way, we wouldn’t want someone close to us to be on either side of the spectrum. Conley will lose the benefit of the doubt due to these false accusations. The woman will receive all types of threats and hate for these accusations.

Ultimately, this woman needs help if she made up these accusations. IF something did happen, even if the court dismissed any illegal mishappenings, she still needs help and support. Conley will need some help with his image but good football play will overcome these dismissed accusations. Just ask Ben Roethlisberger. And if Conley did get off on something than he may need help  too.

Nonetheless, it is great that this ugly chapter is finally behind Conley, the Raiders and us. We can all stop talking about this and allow the two young people to continue their lives. Hopefully, they can both recovery from this situation.

 

Raiders Training Camp 2017: Goodbye to Austin Howard and Taiwan Jones, and where is Donald Penn?

Oakland concluded their first day of 2017 training camp with a press conference. Here are some notes from the first day.

Donald Penn

Quarterback Derek Carr did not want to comment on his left tackle holding out of Training  Camp. Carr said he did not want to comment on another man’s pockets. He also said he wanted to concentrate on the players who were in camp.

Ultimately, Penn is holding out of training camp one-year after signing a team-friendly two-year deal with the team in 2016. Penn has been one of the most reliable starters on the Raiders offense since he came here three years ago. At age 33, Penn is just trying to get a little more compensation for the beating his body takes during the year.

Either way, the Raiders have the cap space to get a new deal done. Penn protects the blindside of Carr so the Silver and Black need him. He is also a nasty mauler which makes him a perfect fit on the Raiders offensive line. This group is among the best in the league and they need to Penn to uphold that situation.

Austin Howard and Taiwan Jones

Penn wasn’t the only Raider missing from training camp. Taiwan Jones and Austin Howard were one of the more tenured Raiders on the roster before they were cut earlier this week.

Jones was one of the last draft picks of late owner Al Davis. Howard was a marquee free agent signing in 2014. Both players were good character guys and figures in the community.

Howard battled for the starting right tackle position the last two seasons and he was supposed to do that again. Rather, the Raiders decided they wanted to save a few million in cap space by cutting the 30-year-old tackle. The timing is weird considering Penn’s contract situation. Plus, Oakland will let David Sharpe and journeyman Marshall Newhouse battle for the right tackle position. Neither has as much starting experience as Howard.

Jones was a bay area native and one of the fastest players in NFL combine history. He switched from running back to corner and back to runner during his time in Oakland. Injuries and size prevented him from really using his speed as a runner or pass catcher on offense. Otherwise, he was a solid contributor on special teams. However, he had been phased out on that team by younger players too. Jones got cut a day after his birthday.

Ultimately, Raiders are always Raiders once they wear that Silver and Black. It is sad to see some fan favorites go but this added cap space should help the Raiders get Penn a new deal.

In the end, at least a new season is officially underway thanks to the start of the 2017 NFL Training Camp.

Cash Carr: Derek is worth the fat extension

Forget the yards per attempt. Forget the happy feet in the pocket and the leg injury. Derek Carr is worth every penny and he hasn’t won the Raiders a championship or NFL MVP, yet. Carr and the Raiders seemed poised for both until Trent Cole sacked the Raiders QB and ended hopes for either.

But this 5-year, $125 million extension isn’t about Carr’s past. It isn’t about Carr being the Raiders most stable quarterback since Rich Gannon or the most promising prospect since Kenny Stabler. It isn’t about Carr’s comeback wins or low interception rates. It isn’t even about the viable comparisons to Aaron Rodgers.

This extension is about Carr’s future as the unquestioned face of the Raiders franchise. I know he will share that title with Khalil Mack for most of their careers, but Carr plays the position that touches the ball the most. He will be a Raider until 2022 which means he will lead the team to their relocation to Las Vegas.

Carr is already renowned for his community work as well as sharing his beautiful family on social media. Just look at all the respect he got from opposing players and coaches. Todd Gurley and Kyle Long both congratulated him. This is because the California native is the face of the modern Raiders era. He understands what it takes to be an NFL quarterback because he watched his brother flame out but he also understands what it means to be a Raider on the field and the community.

For Raiders fans, we’ve witnessed Andrew Walters, Aaron Brooks, Dante Culpepper, Jamarcus Russell and so many other QBs who were not worthy of the Silver and Black. On countless Sundays, we watched the most important position let us down. For decades, we cringed as QBs couldn’t keep us in games or bring us back. Therefore, you can’t put a price on the intangibles that Derek Carr brings.

Many people have called this one of the best days in Raiders history. Many have broken down the contract and found that it is a fair deal for many. In fact, Carr might not even be the highest paid player for much longer if Kirk Cousins cashes out.

Either way, Carr is worth every penny. You can dive into the stats like everyone else. However, every Raiders fan can tell you he is worth it. You can’t put a price on feeling like your team has a chance against anyone. You can’t put a pricetag on knowing that your team is never really out of a game. This is the effect that Carr has on the Raiders and it is a wonder that he fell into the second-round.

Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie understands how lucky he was that  Carr turned out alright on and off the field. Like Raiders fans, he does not take that for granted. He locked up Carr and now it is time for the Raiders QB to deliver on his side of the bargain with an NFL MVP and Super Bowl.

Nonetheless, props to McKenzie and Carr for getting the deal done before we all sweated about it into the season. This is how contract negotiations should go on both sides. Teams should play their players and good players should want to stay with great franchises. Then again, we shouldn’t be surprised. Carr has been a textbook franchise quarterback since he landed in Oakland.

God Bless DC and the Raiders. Just Spend Baby!

 

Oakland Warriors got a ring, the Raiders should be next

On June 15, the Warriors will parade their newest NBA Championship for their fans in the Bay. While they sport the name Golden State and rock the Golden Gate bridge, the Warriors play in Oracle which is in Oakland. Let’s not forget that.

Still, Oakland is about to lose the Warriors and the Raiders in a span of a few years. The Warriors are headed to San Francisco while the Raiders are headed to Las Vegas. Considering Oakland has a history as a strong sports town and a hub for social movements, this city deserves as many championships as possible.

Already, the Oakland Raiders are talking about being inspired by their neighbors dominating season. Now, it is time for the Silver and Black to deliver a title.

Over the past few seasons, Raider Nation has supported the Raiders threw quarterbacks like Jamarcus Russell and Aaron Brooks as well as head coaches like Lane Kiffin and Tom Cable. Despite the poor football product, Raiders fans showed up.

The same applies for Warriors fans. They supported the teams through the Monta Ellis and Adonal Foyle eras. Now, they get a team that projects to dominate over the next few seasons. Golden State can continue winning championships before the franchise moves across the Bay.

As for the Raiders, they are also young enough to contend over the next few seasons. Thus, the Silver and Black need to bring a championship to Oakland before they bounce for Vegas.

Oakland is a blue-collar town that is reflected in the culture and colors of the Raiders. No matter where the team plays, they will always embody a piece of Oakland. Hence, the Raiders need to bring another Super Bowl trophy to the Bay. The Raiders must double-down on the Warriors’ championships.

Who knows, maybe the Raiders can win two Super Bowls in three years like the Warriors did? Or maybe they can win three in a row. Either way, one Super Bowl would be great for the city that has supported its sports teams through thick and thin.

 

What is it like to be a Raiders fan in Los Angeles in 2017?

Detailing my experience as Raiders Fan since the NFL returned via the Rams and Chargers: How has your experienced changed?

It’s a chilly October night. A friend invites me to an impromptu Clippers game. I find whatever jacket is in my trunk, and it is my favorite Raiders pullover.

Of course, I’m never afraid to wear my Raiders gear anywhere. Except for this time, it’s different. The Raiders are off to their hottest start in more than a decade. All of a sudden everyone is very receptive to my Silver and Black pride.

Instead of getting sarcastic remarks that trivialize my fanhood and test my patience, I find support. All of a sudden everyone respects the Silver and Black. Is this a product of their success? Does winning solve everything? OR are Angelinos paying attention to the NFL again due to the return of the L.A. Rams?

***

Los Angeles Raiders fans are an interesting bunch. The aren’t afraid to take short flights or long drives to support their team in the Bay. They tell legends of Super Bowls. They acknowledge the number of open seats leading up to the Raiders return to the Bay.

Even L.A. Raiders players like Marcus Allen and Howie Long will remind you that they spent their careers in Southern California and not Oakland. Either way, we are all members of the Silver and Black… Right?

***

You can find Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts dedicated to fans of the L.A. Raiders. For good reason, the team called this place home for 12 seasons. Fans supported them through good and bad.

This specific geographic designation created a divide in Raider Nation, especially when the Raiders quest for a new kingdom almost brought them back to Los Angeles via a joint proposal with the Chargers in Carson.

Even as the L.A. Raiders return died with the return of the Rams and Chargers, this subgroup continues to exist. What does it mean to be a fan of the most successful Los Angeles NFL team, while two other teams try to establish roots in the Nation’s second largest market? Why did ratings for Raiders game surpass those of the newly returned Rams, despite occuring at the same date and time?

***

It is January 2016 and the Rams are officially returning. I patrol the shops of the mall trying to find some new Raiders gear. Cowboys, Patriots, Seahawks and other popular teams’ gear are replaced with the Gold and Blue Rams gear. The struggle to find fresh Raiders gear at retailers persists, despite their upward success and popularity.

I’ve been going to the same gym for years. Now, I’m seeing more Raiders hats and tee-shirts. Are people getting more pride since the NFL is gaining popularity in my home? Am I becoming hyper-aware of casual fans since my team is finally entering the mainstream again? Am I policing bandwagon fans because I’ve been an active member of this culture since we were horrible?

***

It’s April 2017 and I’m enjoying Coachella 2017. Of course, I’m wearing a Raiders hat to protect myself from the sun and conceal my sweaty hair. It also matches my Raiders tank. People walk up to me and tell me it’s a dope hat.

“Go Raiders!” Strangers say.

“Raiders, baby,” they said.

My first instict is to challenge their fanhood. Sure, you’re a Raiders fan. I notice their crisp Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper jerseys. They proceed to tell me how they’ve been a Raiders fan for years.

Where were you when we were 4-12?  Where were you when people were telling me they hate the Raiders.

Only two years before at the same music festival, people said, “Raiders suck!”

Now, Raiders gear is the most popular. Surpassing the gold, yellow and blue of the Chargers and Rams?

***

Although I’ll be the first to admit the Raiders Mecca will always be in Oakland, that doesn’t mean Los Angeles is not the second home of Raider Nation. Maybe, this is because I never saw the Silver and Black patrolling the green of the Coliseum.

Either way, I’ve certainly noticed a difference in what it means to be a Raiders fan over the past two seasons. Do I attribute this to the success of the team in recent seasons or the increased presence of the NFL in Los Angeles?

At least until the stadium opens in Las Vegas, L.A. is the second most concentrated place of Raiders fans in the nation. What does it mean to be a Raider fan in Los Angeles since the NFL is back and the Silver and Black are as good as ever?

Let me know what it means to be a Raiders fan in Los Angeles in 2017 via Twitter or shoot me an email, petedcamarillo@gmail.com.

How the Raiders will end the Patriots Dynasty?

The Raiders finally have a real shot at beating the Patriots this season. The two AFC juggernauts face off in Mexico this year.

Considering the Patriots still have the G.O.A.Ts  at quarterback and coach (sarcastic), New England should be the favorite. However, the Raiders have a real shot at beating everyone’s most hated dynasty during this regular season.

Last week, a Fox Sports show went viral by saying that and much more. The video said that the Raiders could be the team to end the Patriots’ dynasty since their dynasty began after the controversial 2001 “Tuck Rule” game.

We all remember the fallout from that game. Jon Gruden went to Tampa Bay and took our playbooks with him. With the exception of that horrible Super Bowl loss that included our center going M.I.A., we struggled to find a franchise quarterback. Our team served 14 years as the laughing stock of the league. Meanwhile, the Patriots ascended to football greatness.

Now, the Raiders have finally built a real foundation for a Super Bowl contender. They actually have a real chance to break the curse and switch the projections of the two organizations.

The Patriots aren’t a slouch this season. Besides Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, the Patriots will field a wealth of bargain assets that they obtained this offseason. Somehow, the rich got richer.  New England added Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen, Stephon Gilmore and Kony Ealy via free agency and trades.

So how can the Raiders end the Patriots dynasty?

Start the Carr

The Raiders will only go as far as Derek Carr takes them. We saw that last season when he went down with a leg injury. We witnessed close games that we lost cause Carr couldn’t bring us back.

Last season, Carr gained some hype in the MVP conversation. Now, he must ascend that by dethroning Tom Brady in the regular season. He’s going to have to go to a neutral site and show his teammates that he is not afraid of the greatness of the Raiders.

Win or lose, Carr must play well and he must not quit. If he wants to be mentioned as one of the greats, it starts by beating one of the greatest teams ever.

Defense Wins Champions

You hear that damn cliche every year but it is true. The Raiders will need their defense to beat the Patriots, let alone win a Championship.

It won’t be easy. The Raiders struggle covering tight ends and the Patriots have two of them. Oakland’s big corners also struggle covering small and agile receivers. New England has a slew of those at receiver and running back.

Luckily, the Raiders have defensive coaches with real experience. Starting from the top, guys like Reggie McKenzie, Jack Del Rio, Ken Norton Jr., and many more have experience playing in the league. They understand what it takes to build a real NFL defense. It is time for them to do that considering they’ve made heavy investments during free agency and the NFL Draft over the past two offseasons.

Do it in the postseason

There will be a lot of hype surrounding the Raiders’ prime time showdown with the Patriots during the regular season. Regardless, the Raiders must do it in the postseason to pose a real threat to the evil empire.

No matter what happens during the regular season, the Raiders will probably face New England in the postseason. To be the best, the Raiders got to beat the best. This is the only way the Raiders can fulfill their Super Bowl dreams.

Hopefully, they can go into New England and reverse the curse. Ideally, Oakland will go in there and reclaim the title as America’s most hated team. This will help Oakland gain the confidence they need to win a title and begin a dynasty. Meanwhile, our friends in Navy and Silver can go back to wherever they were before 1998.

 

Raiders Draft: Who to pick in Round One? 

It’s finally here! It seems like I say that every year. Well, every year I’m excited for the NFL Draft. Dreams are made, fans hopes are up and many hearts get broken. Sounds pretty exciting, if you ask me.

Who will our precious Silver and Black select? Here are some ideas as well as my selection.

The Fans’ Pick: Obi Melifonwu, S, UCONN

All the fans love this pick. For good reason too. Melifonwu is the kind of prospect who Al Davis will turn in his grave for. The big-bodied and fast safety made a name for him self at the NFL Combine and Senior Bowl. Melifonwu Los has experience as a productive corner and safety at UCONN. He could develop into Reggie Nelson’s eventual replacement. The only issue with this pick is that the safety class is so deep. The Raiders could get a guy just as capable in the second round.

The Dark Horse: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

You never want to reach for a need in the NFL Draft. However, Robinson has an argument to be the best tackle in this class. He has big game experience that dates back to his days at Bama. Robinson has the size and athleticism to be the long-term answer at either of the Raiders’ tackle spots. Ultimately, there are some questions about his ability to finish run blacks and his balance/technique in pass pro. Luckily, the Raiders have some veterans at the position to help groom Robinson. Personally, I think Robinson is a better value in round two. Nonetheless, Mike Mayock pegged him here. 

Draft Crush: Kevin King, CB, Washington

Everytime we play the Chiefs, I believe that Marcus Peters should be a Raider. His play style and swagger would have fit perfect with Oakland. Now, King isn’t quite the same player as Peters. However, he is a big and fast corner from the Bay Area. King played safety and corner at Washington so he brings the versatility that the Raiders need. He should immediately challenge for the nickel corner position. King might even challenge David Amerson and Sean Smith for starting roles on the outside. King has the size and ball skills to develop into the Raiders eventual starter on the outside. He might not be available at No. 24, but it would be really hard for the Raiders to pass on the Bay Area kid.

The Gamble: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

Draft experts have nothing bad to say about Foster’s tape out of Alabama. However, he could fall to the Raiders due to off-field concerns. Foster had an incident that got him sent home from the NFL Combine. He also tested positive at the Combine. Then, he’s got size and injury concerns. Plus, Oakland is still haunted by the demons of another former Bama linebacker taken in the first round, Rolando McClain. I say no but the Raiders may roll the dice.

The Al Davis Pick: John Ross,  WR, Washington

Questions about his size, ankle, knee and shouler health could make Ross tumble in the draft. You think Al Davis would care about any of that? Ross broke the NFL Combine record for the 40-yard dash with a sub-4.3 40-time. Not to mention, he was highly productive at Washington. Ross’ route tree is extensive, his hands are good and he is Cali-native. Al Davis would make this pick despite the Raiders’ receiving corps already being among the NFL’s best.

The Safe Pick: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

Davis has been another popular target for the Raiders in various Mock Drafts. There are a lot of good reasons. Davis was productive at Florida and he tested well at the combine. He projects as an outside or middle linebacker in the NFL, despite his limited size. Oakland would sure up their middle linebacker spot with a rangy backer. However, I’m not sold on taking a MLB this early unless you think he can change your defense. Davis will be a solid starter but I don’t know if he is a future Pro Bowler. I’d roll the dice on him in the second round, especially given his injury history.

My Pick: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt 

Early in the draft process, I was high on the Raiders selecting Davis. Cunningham’s scheme fit, speed and hands had me questioning his fit with Oakland. Then, I remember that the Raiders defense has not been good enough to establish a scheme. There scheme is flexible for the players that they select. Moreover, Jack Del Rio and Reggie McKenzie have both put empathisis on selecting impact players. Cunningham was a productive, impact player in the SEC. he has the size and frame to play a variety of positions in the front seven. Moreover, he is ready to start from Day One. This pick makes too much sense. BR’s Matt Miller also consigned this pick in his latest mock draft.

Ultimately, we will find out who the Raiders select at about 8:00 p.m. PST tonight. Who do you think they should select? I know I can’t wait to welcome the newest member of the Silver and Black.

Just Sin Baby!

The Oakland Raiders officially announced that they are relocating to Las Vegas. NFL Owners agreed on the proposal via a 31-1 vote. .

It’s stunning considering the Owners rarely agree on anything with that much conviction. The Miami Dolphins were the one team to vote no for whatever reason.

Clearly, the proposed $750 million in approved public funds had an influence on the decision. That is a lot of free money from a market, especially when you consider the East Bay was not putting any public funds out there. 

However, this is devastating for a community that embodies the Raiders’ mystique. The two are a perfect match due to the social and civil rights hisory of Oakland as well as the trailblazing, renegade culture of the Raiders. That community needs the team to give the hope. To inspire the community. To work with the kids and reach out to the Oakland community.

As for Vegas, some fans have reasons to be excited. Las Vegas is fun and new. More importantly, the Raiders are getting the shiny new stadium that they’ve wanted for decades. 

However, there are some major flaws in this whole ordeal. Does it really make sense that the Raiders would leave a top-5 market for a top-40 market? Not to mention, the Raiders need to take out lots of loans just to make this happen. 

Then you factor in Vegas’ legal prostitution and gambling. Is this really an environment for a winning football team? Does the NFL want their brand associated with a city based on the very things that they disapprove.

From a fans’ perspective, do you really want to tailgate in 100 degree weather? Would you rather be among drunken idiots at a football game when you can be around beautiful women at a party? Plus, are fans going to be priced out of the stadium by rich tourists?

Overall, this Vegas relocation creates a ton of questions… Like the financing. The Raiders are relying on loans from Bank of America and the NFL to make this happen. How can this team afford to pay more money in relocation fees and leave added money from the NFL? All because of their quest to leave Oakland?

I get that the Davis Family has wanted a stadium for decades. I get that he has that in Vegas, but should it be at the expense of Oakland? 

The fans have supported him through thick and thin. Why should the NFL ignore the wants of their fan base for the third time in 15 months. It is even more disgusting when you factor in all the investment money that is happening in the Bay.

Why can’t the Raiders get those funds? Guess, the City will have to settle for a baseball stand and some condos. Does gentrification win again?

Ultimately, the Raiders’ relocation to Oakland raises more questions than answers. One thing is for sure, the move to Vegas is happening. It’s about the one thing we know for sure. They still got to work out the details on a lease, but it is happening if we like it or not.

For now, it is a time for us to mourn. Oakland will always be the Mecca for Raider Nation, and it is sad that the team is leaving that. 

Regardless, Raiders fans will endure. We always endure. We’ll go to and celebrate Las Vegas. It won’t be the same, but we’ll make it happen.

It’s a risky move that could pay off or flop horribly. At the end of the day, what else do we expect from Vegas or the Raiders?  

Just Sin Baby!

Raiders Rants: Cordarrelle Patterson, Marshall Newhouse and More

The Oakland Raiders finally made some Free Agency moves after what seemed like an endless first few day of the new NFL year.

Most recently, Oakland adds kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson. The two-time All-Pro brings the gamechanging and consistent return ability that this team has lacked for years.

More importantly, it is a two-year deal with a team option for the second year. Reggie McKenzie strikes again with a bargain free agent.

Besides the return game, Patterson could have ability to challenge Seth Roberts in the slot receiver position. First, Patterson will need to work on his concentratrion on catches and refine his route tree.

At the very least, Patterson brings the 4.42 speed that late owner Al Davis would’ve have drooled on. Thus, Patterson can serve as a fourth receiver to stretch the field via vertical passes. Essentially, this assumes Andre Holmes’ role in the offense over the past two seasons.

Patterson is also a former Tennessee Volunteer which RM loves.

Not to mention, the Raiders signed Marshall Newhouse over the weekend. He wasn’t a highly coveted free agent but he is a solid depth veteran on a cheap contract. Apparently, McKenzie helped evaluate Newhouse when he was in Green Bay.

Either way, I’d expect the Raiders to add a tackle in the draft since Menelik Watson bounced. Oakland needs help as Donald Penn is aging and Austin Howard has been inconsistence.

Speaking of players leaving, Malcolm Smith, D.J. Hayden, Stacy McGee and Nate Allen are among key players not returning to the team. Those guys all played hard for the Silver and Black, so I wish them luck. 

All of those players can easily be upgraded, but it should be noted that teams wasted no time signing them. Clearly, they saw something that the Raiders did when they added them.

Hayden might actually do well with the Detroit Lions. He’ll have way less pressure there. Meanwhile, McGee and Watson will have to live up to their new starting expectations. Khalil Mack should be happy that Watson is in Denver now. That should equal more sacks.

As for Allen and Smith, neither lived up to the 2015 free agency hype. However, they were both constant pros who made plays at times. Not to mention, they helped change the Raiders’ losing culture. Hopefully, they can pull it together and remain solid NFL players.

Moving forward, the Raiders still have massive needs in the middle of their defense. Key targets like Dontari Poe and Johnathan Hankins should be on the Raiders’ priority list. Especially when you consider this DT draft class is not as good as last year.

At middle linebacker, this draft class is deep. The Raiders could draft a player here in the top of they draft. Either way, they should still add a savy veteran. Luckily, Donta Hightower, Perry Riley and Zachary Brown are all available. They’re the top players at the position. They have a ton of experience and they are all on the right side of 30. Considering all three are available, Oakland should be able to get whichever one they want. I’d expect Riley is the first priority since he joined the team last year. Then again, wouldn’t they have already signed him?

Nonetheless, stay posted for more Raiders free agency updates.