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The Raiders already made their big splash

If you expected a marquee free agency signing or hoped for one like I did, you’re real disappointed with this week’s haul. It’s understandable since the Raiders signed a 33-year-old Jordy Nelson, four defensive starters from non-playoff teams, three reserve skill players you’ve never heard of and a long snapper.

This really shouldn’t be surprising since Oakland prefers to build through the draft. Plus, the Raiders already made their major move in free agency. That was signing head coach Jon Gruden.

Adding Gruden won’t impact the salary cap but it’s the marquee move of the free agent. If you were expecting a big name with dollars to upstage that you were setting yourself up for failure.

Yes, there’s no Suh, Honeybadger or Tru coming despite whatever source said that might happen.

Instead, Oakland will try to grab impact players in the draft. They’ll bank on Gruden coaching up mediocre plays. They will hope a new staff wit structure and scheme will help this team improve naturally.

Hopefully, there right. The regime will need to bat 1000 in the NFL Draft if they hope to construct a Super Bowl roster.

Plus, this team needs to win immediately as they’re facing relocation in a season or two. If this team stumbles out of the gate, expect a ton of hostile fans at home. They will cite this free agency and last season as examples of McKenzie letting them down.

Again, the hope is McKenzie and Gruden are right that they can coach up some average NFL talent. That these veterans are hungry and ready to buy into Gruden’s schemes.

That means all we can do is what and see. Trust the process, no matter how tired of it you are.

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Gruden and McKenzie Free Agency 2018

This year’s free agency is going to be super interesting. Even more interesting than usual given it will give us our first public taste of the Jon Gruden and Reggie McKenzie dynamic.

Traditionally, McKenzie and the Raiders sit out the first wave of free agency. Unless, there is a guy RM really wants he usually waits for the big dollars to come out and he spends his money on second-tier players. There are some exceptions like Kelechi Osemele and Rodney Hudson who the Raiders wasted no time persuing. However, it’s more likely that they look at second wave free agents like Sean Smith and Bruce Irvin.

Except, Jon Gruden is in the picture now. Gruden, traditionally loves his veterans. His schemes also demand new team needs. They’ll need a tradional fullback and blocking tight ends. As well as upgrades at the possession receiver and catching back positions. Oakland may prefer to address these needs in the draft.

However, both Gruden and McKenzie need to win now. Las Vegas relocation is creeping up and Oakland is desperate for a contender. McKenzie will need to prove his worth to Gruden too since this will be R.M.’s third regime.

The point is, free agency will be interesting to see the relationship of McKenzie and Gruden play out. How will their different strategies integrate? Will they attack tier one upgrades? Will they wait and add low-budget depth players. Is it a quality or quantity approach? Do they value the players already on their roster?

Justin Ellis

Justin “Jelly Roll” Ellis is a fan favorite of the Raiders largely due to his name as well as him being a part of the infamous 2014 Raiders draft class that is the foundation to this team. Ellis got a 3-year, $15 million contract ($6 million guaranteed) before he hit the open market.

At face value, this is Oakland re-signing a part of the No. 12 ranked run defense. This is rewarding home grown talent which is something the Raiders have done under McKenzie. It is even more important given Eddie Vanderdoes torn ACL and uncertain future.

However, Ellis finally played himself into shape in a contract year. He hasn’t progressed much as a pass rusher or run stopper over the past few years. Neither is he a great fit for the new regime.

Plus, it is expected that the $6 million in guarantees will be all upfront for Ellis. That means he’ll be making a salary close to what Bennie Logan and Dontari Poe signed last year. He neither has the name recognition or production to warrant that contract.

This is not an indictment on Ellis. He’s a solid player and good rotational defensive lineman. It is not his fault the Raiders offered him this contract.

Nonetheless, why wouldn’t McKenzie and the Raiders let the market tell them Ellis’ value? It’s unlikely he gets that deal anywhere else. Moreover, big-name tackles like Mo Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Poe could’ve been signed with this similar number in mind. They would’ve been considerable upgrades too.

Overall, Ellis’ contract gives us precedent on what to expect for Denico Autry and T.J. Carrie. Both players were also key contributors for the Raiders over the past few seasons. Both will hit the open market and it will be interesting to see if Oakland will overpay them or let them leave. I’d argue that both those players deserve more than Ellis so it will be interesting to see if they get more or less in free agency.

Lastly, the Raiders have to ink Khalil Mack at some point. Mack wanted Ellis back but will Jelly’s money make it harder to cash out Mack? Either way, the Raiders got to lock Mack up before the Rams pay Aaron Donald. Donald is another DPOY from the 2014 class and he will set the market higher than Mack if he is signed first. Either player will use the other’s contracts as the baseline for the new extension. Thus, the Rams and Raiders are in a sort of arms race to re-sign their defensive franchise player before the other sets the market stupid high.

 

Gruden Era Can’t Trust the Process

The Oakland Raiders blew up the process by firing Jack Del Rio and hiring Jon Gruden. You don’t hire Gruden from the booth, assemble of group of experienced and expensive assistants and pay Del Rio off to win a Division title. The expectations for Gruden and company is a Super Bowl ASAP.

Of course, that means the Raiders will need to fill their roster with Super Bowl level talent. They have glaring needs for elite talent and depth across the roster. They could wait for some draft picks from the previous regime to develop but that was the process that failed them in 2017.

The Raiders need to get top level talent in the draft, obviously, but they need to do that in free agency as well. Gruden has been out of coaching for a while so he doesn’t have a pipeline of active players ready to go. He’s got to get a new generation of players to buy into his legends of the 2000s.

Del Rio needed to attract free agents too. He did to some extent. They found budget guys like Perry Riley Jr., Reggie Nelson, David Amerson, Michael Crabtree, Marshawn Lynch and Navarro Bowman. They got top guys like Keleci Osemele and Rodney Hudson. They capitalized on second tier free agents like Sean Smith, Dan Williams, Donald Penn and Bruce Irvin.

Now, Gruden has got to take it a step further. In the past, general manager Reggie McKenzie has been hesitant to pay older free agents or handover big contracts. That will have to change in the Gruden era. They will need take some short cuts and that means signing the top free agents.

We’re seeing it in Jacksonville. The Jaguars spent dollars on elite free agents. They also drafted well and developed those players. Now, they’ve got a deep roster with veterans and young players. Oakland needs to follow a similar format.

On the other hand, we’ve seen teams like Giants sign free agents and take steps backwards. That proves the Raiders need a balance of draft picks and free agents to improve their depth.


When Reggie McKenzie took over this organization, he tore down the roster by releasing underperforming players. He hired Dennis Allen to lead the rebuild.

A few years later, McKenzie started reconstruction. He hired an experienced coach like Del Rio. He started attracting under the radar free agents that offered the most return on their investment. He found veterans willing to buy-in and prove themselves.

Now, the Raiders will enter the re-tool part of the process. They have cornerstone players like Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson and Amari Cooper to build around. They have veterans who have proved themselves like Osemele, Irvin, Hudson and others. Gruden will need to take this nucleus and mold into a true contender.

Gruden is tasked with getting this team an identity. He’s got some talent that he needs to get to buy into his vision. However, he’s going to need to get some more talent around them that fits his image. This is how the team takes the next step.

It means getting rid of players who don’t fit the character or play style that Gruden needs. Those who don’t buy in or fit in will need to be replaced.

That means bringing in talent that elevates the quality of the roster and is willing to fill specific needs. They need elite talented players willing to buy into Gruden’s image of the Raiders. Oakland will need to spend on elite players that compliment the nucleus they already have and will fit Gruden’s identity.

The Raiders can’t waste anymore time waiting for players to develop. They can’t keep players on scholarship. They can’t squeeze round pegs into Gruden’s image.

Hiring Gruden didn’t just speed up the process. Combine that with the Raiders moving to Las Vegas in two years and the entire process is blown up.

Oakland is taking a huge gamble on Gruden. They’re taking a huge gamble moving to Las Vegas. Oakland needs a Super Bowl ASAP.

The Jaguars and Titans both won a playoff game before the Silver and Black. If that is not an indicator that the team needs to speed up the process, what is?

The Raiders can’t stop gambling now. They got to gamble by spending money on specific, elite free agents. Sorry McKenzie, but your entire process is blown up. Oakland can’t wait for you draft picks to develop. You gotta open up that checkbook and take some shortcuts to help Gruden build his identity.

$100 million later, Jon Gruden is officially official head coach of the Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders officially got their white whale. They gave Jon Gruden $100 million over 10 years so the ESPN commentator would return to the sideline. ruden’s assistants are expected to be heavily compensated as well.

It is rumored they’re hiring Rams QB coach Greg Olsen as offensive coordinator and Cowboys special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia and Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will hold the same positions in Oakland.

Why Gruden’s return is good

Every Raiders fan remembers the last time Gruden wore Raiders colors as a coach. It was the infamous Tuck Rule game. If his return reverses that curse, then I’m all for it.Other fans, look forward to the nostalgia of Gruden getting the offense back in shape and making plenty of great sound bites. If the coordinator rumors are true that is great too. Guenther is a true 4-3 guy who will finally give this defense an identity. They won’t hide behind a hybrid scheme. They won’t get pushed around either. Gruden is also a proclaimed offensive guru. That means it will be on him to get Amari Cooper and Derek Carr back on track after both regressed in 2017.Ultimately, the move is a signal from Raiders owner Mark Davis. You don’t give that kind of money to Gruden and eat Jack Del Rio’s contract if you aren’t committed to winning a championship as soon as possible. The Raiders have up to two years left in Oakland and it is clear they want to make a playoff push before that. Having an organization committed to a winning culture is always a good thing. It’s a move that should lift the morale of fans too.

Why Gruden part two could get bad

Remember the last time Mark Davis made a move that fans loved but everyone else questioned. That was the addition of Marshawn Lynch a year after retirement. The jury is still out on that move.Don’t forget it was also Davis who hired Del Rio. Del Rio was a great hire at the time but that turned sour quick.Gruden will have even higher expectations. Ownership will expect a significant playoff push before they leave Oakland. If not, Reggie McKenzie could get his pink slip next. Speaking of that, it is rumored that Gruden may want to make some additions to the personnel department too. McKenzie will stay onboard for the interim. However, it remains to be seen if he will stay with Gruden long term. Then there’s the whole matter of Las Vegas. The Raiders are taking on a lot of debt to make the move happen. They’ll need Gruden to make the team into a winner before, during and after the move. The success of the relocation to a smaller city and new sports town depends on the Raiders on-field-product.Additionally, there’s a huge elephant in the room. Gruden hasn’t called a game in nearly a decade. Certainly, he’s analyzed the game and become aware of new trends as an outsider. However, that’s completely different than leading men and putting together a game plan.On top of that, he’ll lead on Greg Olsen as offensive coordinator. Olsen held the same title with the Raiders during Carr’s rookie year. That’s good for continuity but let’s remember that is the year Carr earned his check down Derek nickname. It also reminds me of the time we rehashed Gregg Knapp. It can’t be much worse than that. Olsen did help Jared Goff develop this year. He probably learned some modern west coast offense from Sean McVay too. But Olsen didn’t do anything in his second stint with Jacksonville. Olsen’s offenses have been average throughout his career. Don’t forget that. Otherwise, John DeFillipo was the QB coach that year and the year before. He’s the real attributed mastermind behind Carr’s rookie year and the year that brought us Terelle Pryor. Except DeFillipo will probably get a head coaching job and not return to Oakland with Olsen. Hopefully, Gruden and Olsen don’t expect to dink and dunk their way to a title in 2018. If that’s the case, expect Raiders fans to turn their morale real quick. On both sides of the ball, the Raiders are going to have to add some guys to help the transition to Gruden’s regime? If it works, is to be determined…

The verdict

Applaud the Raiders for doing what they had to do and gambling on Gruden seems like the sexy bet. It won’t come without challenges because all coaching changes result in growing pains. Nonetheless, it was clear they had to move on from Jack Del Rio. Del Rio looked old and tired as the season went on. He never could find the answers during the games or in post game press conferences. There was a ton of weird drama from Lynch, Carr, the defense and the offensive line. Del Rio couldn’t keep it under control. Reports also said Del Rio wasn’t staying as late as much either. It seems like Del Rio always found someone to blame besides himself. He could never build a defensive culture or limit penalties during his entire tenure. He couldn’t maximize his talent in 2017. Del Rio wasn’t going to persuade any free agents moving forward either.Further, all this offseason lockerrrom snitching proves the Raiders lost their camaraderie. It proves that they weren’t responding to Del Rio. Raiders fans saw that as the team lacked motivation and often looked beaten during games. This prestigious franchise seemed like they were losing the physical battle each week. It was time to move on. Props to Del Rio though. He took getting fired from his dream job in stride. Del Rio got the news directly after a road game but still delivered his post game pressed. I can only imagine the emotions of losing your dream job. As fans, we all dream of doing the job that Del Rio worked his way into. He probably had the same dreams as a kid in the bay. His family and him also did a ton for the community. Del Rio built a foundation and moved the culture forward. Hopefully, Gruden can get the Raiders to the next step. This would be like the Warriors firing Marc Jackson and hiring Steve Kerr. In that same comparison, Gruden has got to win and win fast. He’s got to get this team contending for serious titles each year. He’s got to get a couple of Super Bowls over the next ten years. He’s got to get one with this core group, preferably before the team leaves its home. At the very least, Gruden needs to win a Super Bowl in four years or this could be a huge embarrassment for every one involved.Gruden has got to be more than just an upgrade over Del Rio. Gruden has got to turn the offense around and get the defense playing hard again. He’s got to sell tickets in Oakland and Las Vegas. He’s gotta coexist with Davis and McKenzie to get quality draft picks and feee agents. Can Gruden do all that? That is to be determined.

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!

 

Reviewing the Oakland Raiders NFL Draft

 

The Oakland Raiders entered the draft with most of their starters set, but glaring needs for depth across the roster. How did they do with their picks? Why did they make the selections that they did?

Jack Del Rio and Reggie McKenzie shared insights onto their picks. As a bonus, I’ve also recapped my thoughts on the picks since the dust settled on the NFL Draft.

S Karl Joseph, West Virginia (No. 14 overall)
McKenzie: “You can feel his toughness. He has a very aggressive mentality. He’s versatile. He can play all over the field, and he’ll run and hit anything that moves.”

Del Rio: “We just think he’s a really good football player, and he’ll have an infectious kind of personality and demeanor about himself. So, [we’re] really excited to get our hands on him and looking forward to working with him.”

My take: Initially felt like the Raiders reached on a 5’11 strong safety coming off of a knee injury. However, the Falcons took Keanu Neal at No. 17, so the safety position was in demand. Heard nothing but good things about Jospeh’s mental processing and competitive toughness. His selection fills the biggest gap on the roster. Excited to see what he can do. 

DL Jihad Ward, Illinois (No. 44 overall)
Del Rio: “ He has played all the way out as a nine technique all the way down to into a three technique. He has been exposed to a lot of football. And, defensive line is not as complex as playing quarterback. We think we can help him grow as a player and we like what we are starting with.”

My take: Again, felt like the Raiders reached for Ward. I liked some of the other defensive tackles like Andrew Billings and Jonathan Bullard on the board at this point. However, Ward is extremely versatile. Not only did he play across the d-line at Illinois, but he played safety and receiver at the lower levels. Ward brings top-level athleticism which will push Mario Edwards Jr. and the rest of the defensive unit. Glad they took someone to improve the depth in the pass rush. 

Edge rusher Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State (No. 75 overall)
Del Rio: “He’s a very productive young man, really understands how to rush the quarterback. He’s been an All-American and he’s been a very productive guy at a good college program. ”

My take: Calhoun was a great value at this point in the draft. Even though the Raiders took Ward, they should use Calhoun as a hybrid linebacker. He should learn a lot behind Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith. I hope he can improve coverage skills as he may need to play some Sam linebacker. Either way, I like players like Calhoun who showed lots of leadership and production for winning programs in college. 

QB Connor Cook, Michigan State (No. 100 overall)
McKenzie: “ “Derek (Carr)’s our quarterback. Whoever we bring in, we’re just looking [at] can he help us? Can he add to the depth? Can he help our team? That was the only reason we went after him. Leadership issues, that was of no concern.”

My take: Again, this was a case of selecting the best player available. The Raiders traded up and got a player that could develop into some nice trade bait. Regardless, the Raiders only have Matt McGloin under contract for this season. Hence, there was a need to develop a backup quarterback. Cook brings production and a solid NFL arm to the Raiders scout team.

RB DeAndre Washington, Texas Tech (No. 143 overall)
McKenzie: “He’s the one guy that every time we watched him play, it was very difficult for the first guy to get him down. He had power, quickness and he had speed. He was the kind of the guy that can do it all. ”

My take: I liked some other running backs in this draft like Paul Perkins. However, everyone talks about Washington’s versatility. Remember the Raiders got Latavius Murray late in the draft. Maybe they struck gold again in Washington. He will push Taiwan Jones and Roy Helu for playing time early.

LB Cory James, Colorado State (No. 194 overall)
McKenzie: “He has played a lot of positions. We’ll see. For the beginning, we’ll let him play off the ball and see if he can play weakside linebacker, teach him both inside linebacker spots, and nickel. But he’s definitely going to have to try to make his money on special teams.”

My take: At this point in the draft, teams look for special teams guys who might develop into something more. James fills that role. Seems like a quality athlete with a decent motor. I trust Reggie McKenzie, Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton Jr. when it comes to linebackers. The Raiders did well with Neiron Ball and Ben Heeney, last year. 

OL Vadal Alexander, Louisiana State (No. 234 overall)
McKenzie: “(I was surprised he slipped in the draft), because big guys, they usually get taken. We felt really good about that and we like big people. He’s going to work both (guard and tackle). The versatility is what we liked about him.”

My take: The Raiders got lucky at this point. They found a big body and versatile player in the final round. He also fills the depth need on the offensive line with experience at guard and tackle. Plus, all that I’ve read says that he should have gotten drafted way earlier than this. 

*All quotes via Scott Bair.

2014 Draft shows Raiders building a Culture

Now that the dust has settled on the NFL Draft, rookie contracts, and rookie mini-camps the Oakland Raiders can be excited about their 2014 draft class. I have never been an advid supporter of GM Reggie McKenzie, however, he should be applauded for having a top-notch draft classes. Besides the talent he was able to obtain, McKenzie proved he has a plan by selecting players who were productive throughout college.

No. 5 draft pick, Khalil Mack was a dominate and physical player throughout his tenure at Buffalo.
Eventhough he was the best player on the field most of the time, Mack worked his way to the top of the draft after being looked over during recruitment. Forget the scheme fit and team need Mack fills. Mack is exactly the hardworking cornerstone McKenzie wants to build the culture around. Combined with last year’s top draft pick, D.J. Hayden, the Oakland Raiders should have two leaders of their defense for years to come. Added, the stop-gap veteran players on the Oakland Raiders can hopefully pass some knowledge to the young faces of the Oakland Raiders. Even if Mack struggles growing his game to the NFL, there are veteran guys there who can help ease his transition into the NFL. One thing is for sure, Mack combines nastiness and a work ethic which should make him a dominate force in the league.

On day two of the draft, the Raiders followed consensus opinion by selecting Derek Carr. The Raiders lucked out with this pick. Not only did they get the pass-rusher they coveted at the top of the draft, but a local prospect and pro-ready quarterback tumbled down the draft pick and into the Raiders’ lap. Carr is a raw prospect, but he has an NFL ready arm. His mind should be able to adapt to Pro termenology and pro-defenses, because his brother should have been helping him out with that. Carr was productive throughout his career at Fresno State, and he has the big body the Raiders envision for their quarterback. The former bulldog threw for 50tds and only 9 ints in his final season. Hence, Carr is another highly productive player who has the potential to seize the starting role and become the offensive leader.

With their third selection of the 2014 Draft, McKenzie made a smart move by trading back and obtaining another draft pick. Gabe Jackson from Mississippi State, is not a household name. He should be to those who have watched SEC football the past few years. Jackson dominated the best conference in the NCAA, and should be an immediate starter. Moreover he can be a mauler for years to come, especially if they plan to build a bully on the offensive line.

Ellis on the defensive line is another big body with some good upside. He is a true nose tackle, and should assist the Raiders with their plan on having a versatile defense. Not only will he eat up blockers, but he will suprise people with his pass rush.

The next addition in Keith McGill also helped the Raiders continue their plan on adding versatile defensive backs. McGill’s skillset makes him a capable zone defender. He has the size and skill set to fit into the line-up, instantly. McGill is another blue-collar guy who worked as an auto mechanic. Hence he has the work ethic which will help the Raiders build the type of culture they want. Moreover, he is 25 and should be ready to compete and put food on his table.

In the Later rounds, the Raiders added a few more defensive backs, and a defensive end. The first of the team’s seventh round pick TJ Carrie has a good chance to be a returner, and is a local product from De La Salle. However the next two picks are some of the Raiders most intriguing players. Shelby Harris and Johnathan Dowling both had their own mistakes that lead to character concerns.

Hopefully both of those players can suck up some veteran wisdom from the rest of the time. Either of them could be key contributors at a bargain cost. Especially Dowling, he has the size and looked like a solid prospect at Florida before being dismissed by the team.

This last draft class is an indication that Reggie McKenzie has a plan. He is not easily rattled enough to reach for a pass-rusher or quarterback because of team need. Moreover, it shows that he is trying to build an entirely new culture in Oakland, which will be based hard working and highly productive players. However, it also showed he is not afraid to take a chance on a player late, as long as it entails competition on the roster. Hence, the entire draft showed the Oakland Raiders are building a highly competitive roster. They do not want to just sit back and wait for rookies to compete. Reggie Mckenzie is ready for the rookies to compete with veterans from the start.

In addition here is the podcast version: https://soundcloud.com/silverandblog/raiders-podcast-otas

Mckenzie builds momentum with Jones signing.

RAIDERS sign former Giant Boothe


Jones joins Mckenzie with Raiders via Raiders.com

The Raiders added another couple of Superbowl rings and versatile weapons to their team in the second week of Free Agency, only this time it was offense.

GM Reggie McKenzie brought in one of his favorite players from his former employee named James Jones. At 29, the former Packer wide-out signed a two year deal worth up to $3.8 million a year. Considering their was not much rumored interest in one of the top wide receivers in Free Agency, McKenzie got himself another steal.

Jones passed up an opportunity to play for  The Panthers in favor of returning to Northern California as he is from neighboring San Jose. Football wise, Jones is a versatile competitor. He is capable of lining up in the slot or in the outside position. He has racked up almost 800 yards the past two seasons catching balls from Aaron Rodgers.

I love this deal because it is another bargain price for someone who is a big time competitor. The cap implications are not the bad, but I hope they do not expect Jones to be a true #1 receiver. Jones’ sure hands make him a reliable target but he is best suited in a complimentary role. 

I hate this deal because of it’s implications for the draft. I would hate to see the Raiders pass up the Clemson Phenom Sammy Watkins because of their depth at the receiver position. With Streater, Holmes, and Moore already there, plus Jones the Raiders have four capable play-makers in the receiving game. Either way, their is so much talent in this draft class when it comes to receiver that I would hate to see the Raiders pass up value in the mid rounds because the position is field.

Therefore, it would not surprise me to see Denarius Moore traded before the season ends. Moore was expected to be the go to guy, and made some big plays while struggling with consistency. Overall he is an Al Davis guy and has concerns with his work ethic which could make him a viable candidate for the trading block. He should have some value as a relatively young receiver who has made big plays in the league. The Patriots or Panthers could do worse then adding him to their receiving corps.

McKenzie was not done with adding Superbowl rings on Monday, as he signed a familiar face. Kevin Boothe was originally drafted by the Raiders in 2006 before being cut for schematic reasons the next season. Boothe went on to start lots of games for the Giants including two SuperBowl rings.

Boothe adds another big body capable of starting in the offensive-line. He is versatile as a center or guard. The veteran will be able to compete at either of the guards positions, while being insurance due to injury.

Boothe is not a Pro-bowler or anything spectacular. He is not a slouch neither, and is a welcomed addition to an offensive-line in transition.

Both of the signings are continue Reggie McKenzie’s trend of signing Veterans who know how to compete and win. He is not signing the most talented players but players who change the losing dynamic of the franchise. Boothe and Jones added to the core of players signed last week are the type of Leaders who can reverse the culture of losing.

I have been critical of McKenzie in the past, but I give him props for sticking to his guns. He is signing quality stop-gap players at a bargain rates in hopes that his draft picks can develop. For my beloved Raiders sake and for his own, I hope McKenzie’s plan works.

He will continue his plan and carry the momentum through the rest of Free Agency. He still has plenty of cap space.

Some Guys on my list who should be on his:

Mike Jenkins

Kevin Williams

Terrance Cody

Erin Henderson,

Henry Melton

Carlos Rodgers

Antonio Cromartie

Donald Penn

 

Don’t Sleep on Antonio Smith or Tarrell Brown

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Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie capped off the First week of Free Agency by signing two under the radar Free Agents Tarrell Brown and Antonio Smith. Although neither have the name recognition of Justin Tuck or LaMarr Woodley both could have just a big of an impact on the Raiders Defense.

Brown Comes from just across the Bay as a former 49er. Last season he did not have his best effort as he did not record an interception in 10 starts. However the two seasons before he started every game and recorded a combined 6 interceptions. Playing with the 49ers, Brown has the playoff experience which Raiders young secondary members such as DJ Hayden can learn from. 

Brown may not be a pro-bowler but he has a lot of value as a starter or coveraging the slot. He is an above average tackler and his one of Pro Football Focus’ highly graded corner. He should be able to play the man or zone coverages required of Tarver’s scheme. Best part about this deal is the deal is only one year and worth $3.5 million, meaning their is no long term commitment for either side. 

As for Smith, the former Texan and self-proclaimed ninja brings the defensive line some more versatility. With the Texans he was primarily used as a defensive end lined up in the 5 technique. With the Raiders he will probably be utilized in those sets on some of the versatile schemes utilized by the Raiders. The Pass Rusher will also line-up as a pass rusher in the 3-technique.

Sure Smith is approaching 33 years of age, but he played well for the Texans recording 5 of his 41 career sacks. He is also stout against the run and could be critical in helping Stacey McGee develop along the Raiders Defensive Line rotation. Smith will be a critical element of keeping the defensive line fresh and also being able to mix up fronts and stunts for oppossing offensive lines.

Overall, neither of these guys have much household recognition. Fortunately they continue McKenzie’s trend of adding high leadership and work-ethic players to aid the development of our struggling organization. It is not going to happen overnight so having veterans capable of playing well young players develop is critical. Brown and Smith can both play at a high level and will be critical elements of the defensive rotation regardless of who else is brought in via free agency or draft. The best part about both of these signings is they are relatively cheap and offer low risk to the franchise.

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Why Terrelle Pryor should not be written-off

Via Google Images, Pryor Scrambles away from Bears defender

The buzz around the Raiders is that the 2014 starting quarterback may not be on the roster. The Raiders did not do anything to dispell the myth at the combine, as they were interested in many of the top picks. Hence there are many reports indicating the Raiders are shopping Terrelle Pryor for a late draft pick.  Others suggest he may be cut if the Raiders can not find value for him on the trade block. Here are some of the arguments being made, as to why Pryor has played his last down for the Raiders.

The Raiders have not seen enough development in 3 years.

Why Does Pryor deserve another shot with the organization responsible for drafting him three years ago? Yes, the Raiders know what they have in Pryor, but the truth is he is still learning to play the position. He made a huge jump from his second season to the third, and I Pryor’s work ethic could be displayed this season as well.

Dennis Allen and Pryor don’t seem to get along.

Sure their were media reported drama here and there.Both sides have remained professional enough to not burn the bridge completely.The truth is, Pryor and Allen are both professionals and competitors wanting to win. I think the two men can put aside whatever charachter clashes they have to win ball games. The fact is, this is bigger than Dennis Allen. Mark Davis has his sights on a new stadium but more importantly winning. If Pryor gives them the best shot at that, then Mark should channel his inner Al and keep Pryor on Scholarship.

Pryor does not fit the Raiders scheme.

Maybe the Raiders do favor a quarterback with more traditional traits. Yet, mobile quarterbacks are the new way of the world. Pryor gives them an element to their offense that McGloin does not. His electric speed and size possess the playmaking ability the Raiders are desperate for. Take a look at the draft, even the NFL’s newest prospects do not posess the type of god given athletecism Pryor has.

Raiders have interested in Free Agent and Rookie QBs

This is fine. The Raiders have not had a franchise QB in years, so they should be exploring every option to fill their void. Pryor should be included as one of those options. He shouldn’t be written off even before training camp. He has enough potential and experience to atleast warrant a back up oppurtunity. Worst case scenario the Raiders could cut him after Training Camp, IF and only IF someone else beats him out.

Pryor is not an ideal backup

The argument here is teams want a backup similar to their starter so their is not two different offenses installed. My take is, don’t you want a Backup QB who can win games if your starter comes out? Pryor has proven his ability to impact games and that is the kind of quarterback I want if my starter comes out. Sure he makes mistakes, and he is not perfect, but he doesn’t need to be if he is a backup. Not to mention, after backing-up McGloin, Pryor said all the right things. He did not cause a distraction and handled the matter like a professional. Moreover, with the amount of mobile QBS in the league the Raiders need one of their own to give the Defense an honestly look week to week. How is it better to have a Matt McGloin as a back-up? Sure Allen likes McGloin better than Pryor, but does that mean he is a better back-up than Pryor. If McGloin is better then let him prove it camp.

It is best for both parties to move forward.

Really? How is it better if Pryor goes and plays well for another team? I guess most people are operating under the assumption that Pryor won’t play well on another team. I am not so sure on that, the jury is still out as the young man tries to improve his mechanics this offseason. Additionally,  I am sure Pryor wants the chance to bring wins to a franchise that drafted him and a fanbase that supported him. Pryor wants to be a starter, and the Raiders need a starter; that should atleast be enough mutual interest to warrant a competition.

In closing, the Raiders need a lot of help and should be exploring every option to make their team better. Pryor should not be written off as an option for this team moving forward. At least give Pryor another offseason of growth before writing him off as a Quarterback. The Raiders should allow him to compete with McGloin and any other options at Qb via the Draft or Free Agency. What is the worst that could happen? Pryor competes and wins the starting job, which forces Allen to play him, Again?

Snoop Dogg thinks the Raiders should keep Terrelle Pryor, while Vic Tafur, Raiders Beat writer thinks the team is likely done with Pryor. Where do you fall? Vote on the Poll