Hey there Raider Nation, welcome back to another weekly edition of Oakland Raiders Roundup. It’s the middle of February, so there’s a bit of a lull in actual football happenings at the moment. As usual though, plenty of Silver & Black news to discuss.
We’ve got roster moving and shaking. A long-time Raider, fan favorite and Al Davis draft-story legend, is gone. A shorter-term Raider, not such a fan favorite and no legendary stories attached, is also gone to a division rival. Chucky talks, and Irvin may walk?
There’s a lot to discuss, so let’s get to it. As a long time Raider fan, I would be remiss in not mentioning this first:
Raiders informed kicker Sebastian Janikowski today that they do not plan to bring him back for the 2018 season, per source. An 18-year run with Raiders comes to an end.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 14, 2018
Ahhh, Seabass. My buddy named his first son Sebastian, after you. We always wanted to see you kick that 70-yarder we new you could.
From the very beginning, you were a true Raider – and Al Davis sure knew it:
Al Davis really drafted a 260-pound kicker with a pending bribery charge in the first round who had only converted 79.5% of his attempts in college. And the guy had an 18-year career. Incredible.
— Nick Hjeltness (@NickHjeltness) February 14, 2018
Not just the bribery charge. Seabass also had quite the affinity for vodka, women and hard partying ways. As the Tweet says – he’d converted less than 80% of his kicks in college. Who drafts a guy with alcohol and legal issues who isn’t dead-on accurate? Who drafts a kicker in the first round, even one with the strongest leg anyone had ever seen to that point?
The same guy who drafts a punter in the first round, that’s who. The same guy who, apparently, knows some things others do not. Because one is in the HOF, and the other is still kicking after 18 years in the league.
Not too shabby.
Many Raider fans can’t remember a team without Janikowski. And apparently he isn’t retiring, either.
Raiders are done with Sebastian Janikowski, but he’s not finished with NFL. Agent: “He plans on getting another job. … He’s healthy now, and he’s ready to go.” https://t.co/GHqkAg6hsF
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) February 15, 2018
Seeing him in a different uniform will be strange. It will, honestly, be a bit sad. It will definitely be off-putting – and it better not be an AFC West uniform. He also better not kick a 70-yarder with a different team. It would just be wrong.
A back injury landed Janikowski on injured reserve for the 2017 season. Frequent Raider camp leg Giorgio Tavecchio – also a lefty – won the job and started out like gangbusters. Age and the new kid in town seemed to signify the end. Plus, Janikowski’s a kicker who makes $3.3M per season.
But then Tavecchio struggled down the stretch, Seabass got healthy and Gruden came back. Gruden was the Raiders coach when Al drafted Seabass with the 17th pick in the 2000 NFL draft. Gruden dealt with Janikowski during his most immature and troubled moments in the NFL – he knows and loves the man. Things seemed to be aligning for Janikowski’s return, but it isn’t the case. The Raiders will, apparently, roll with Tavecchio or bring in competition.
Janikowski was a solid NFL kicker, converting 80.4% of his career attempts (414 of 515) with five different seasons of 88% or better accuracy. Combined with his ability (he made a then record 63-yard field goal and holds the record for longest attempt at 76 yards) to kick the ball into the stratosphere, you can see why he’s lasted 18 years.
The return of an era, ironically, marks the end of an era. Thank you, Seabass. Please go anywhere but to a rival. You know, like this…
DAVID AMERSON SIGNS WITH KANSAS CITY
The #Chiefs signed free agent CB David Amerson to a 1-year deal worth up to $6M, source said. A stellar secondary gets deeper.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 17, 2018
Somewhere Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Derek Carr are smiling. Because if anyone knows how to exploit Amerson’s weaknesses, it’s them. While Amerson can be good, for sure, he can also be quite bad.
Amerson has size, speed and ability. He had great first seasons in both Washington and Oakland before leveling off in year two and dropping off completely in year three. In Amerson’s defense in 2017, he was injured most of the season with concussions, foot and neck problems and only played in six games. When he did play, he struggled mightily – particularly against the deep ball:
Now Ex-#Raiders CB David Amerson allowed a 156.3 passer rating before going down injured in 2017, ranking dead last among the 159 NFL cornerbacks to play at least 40 coverage snaps this past season.
Injures, drop in production surely led to Amerson's release. https://t.co/PCoRBrTQGN
— Austin Gayle (@AustinGayle_PFF) February 5, 2018
The Chiefs have the ability to coach up their defensive backs well and have a deep defense. Amerson will be more free to roam in Kansas City, and he does have ball-hawking ability when he’s given room to roam.
Regardless, it was time for the Raiders to move on. The Raiders saved nearly $21M in cap space over the next three seasons by cutting Amerson before his 2018 salary became guaranteed. There’s that Reggie financial acumen again.
Whenever a player signs with a division rival, the original fanbase isn’t going to be happy. Raider Nation hopped on the injury prone wagon:
In a related story, Amerson is listed as QUESTIONABLE for the introductory press conference. (Foot)
— Derick Lazaro (@longsleeveboy) February 17, 2018
He’s out for the season. Got hurt signing his contract.
— jayhawksnow123 (@jayhawksnow) February 17, 2018
Kidding aside, this is a good signing for the Chiefs, unfortunately. Adding Amerson to a secondary that already has (at least for the moment) Marcus Peters, and is getting back Eric Berry and acquired Kendall Fuller? Damn. And adding Amerson for a one-year base of $2.5M with incentives up to $6M? That’s a Reggie move – and a good one.
Time will tell, but this one could come back to bite the Raiders – IF Amerson can stay healthy.
So we’ve got a player going from the Raiders to the Chiefs. Arrrrgh. We’ve also got plenty of talk of a “player” that due to youth, need and past success would be possibly worth a flier in Oakland. I’m talking, of course, about…
SPECULATION THE RAIDERS MIGHT CONSIDER JOHNNY FOOTBALL
I guess we can’t really call him that anymore since he hasn’t played in a couple of years. Oh wait – he’s playing in the Spring league, eschewing a chance in the CFL with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Who had to go through quite a process just to get the right to sign him and have the CFL sign off on him. Contract negotiations stalled, and now he’s back in Texas in the Spring league.
Kind of typical Johnny, isn’t it? Oh yeah, and probably the biggest reason the Raiders shouldn’t even consider the kid. Again. Because nothing with this guy is simple. Or without drama.
Johnny is, apparently, working hard:
— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) February 14, 2018
Was he throwing passes in a Karate Ghi in one of those shots? Anyway…
Yes, great. He’s dedicated again. After partying his face off for years and ignoring practice, film study, his coaches and teammates. This is good to see. He should get a shot. Somewhere else. Does he still have talent? Did he ever have NFL-level talent? That’s up for debate – and never solidified.
The Raiders backup QB situation is in flux, and definitely not smiles times at the moment. But Manziel? Well, tell us how you really feel Raider Nation:
Should the Raiders sign Manziel to be the #2 QB?
— Chris Reed (@LVRaidersreview) February 14, 2018
Yeah, that checks out.
So does Gruden just owning the coaching ranks and building his ultimate staff. In preparation for the draft and the combine, Gruden and the Raiders…
HIRE TOM SHAW AS STRENGTH COACH
Shaw is a legend in NFL training circles, known well for his strength and conditioning programs for NFL combine prospects. Shaw’s experience – he helped the Patriots to three Super Bowls as their speed and conditioning coach – and pedigree are unmistakable. Khalil Mack currently trains with him, and he has personally trained multiple Super Bowl MVP’s.
Shaw’s training facility is in Orlando, at Disney’s Wide World of Sports, and so when Gruden was with ESPN he and shaw teamed up and worked closely on Gruden’s QB camp series. Shaw has 18 years of NFL experience, and is renowned among NFL players for being the go-to guy to get players to the next level in strength, speed, and conditioning. Another great hire.
Gruden’s staff just keeps getting deeper and better. Mark Davis has given Gruden carte blance with money and decision making regarding his staff, and he’s building a very, very good one. The situation in Oakland, as his brother Jay Gruden said in an interview, is one of the reasons Jon came back.
He’s back, he’s hiring fantastic coaches, and he’s ready to rock. But don’t take my word for it. Gruden himself sat down with the Mercury Times earlier this week, and for the first time since his opening press conference, we got to hear…
JON GRUDEN’S THOUGHTS ON THE STATE OF THE RAIDERS
Gruden sat down with the Mercury News on Tuesday and discussed his first month on the job.
A few things on the lips of Raider Nation recently were directly addressed by Gruden. For instance, hiring Tom Cable and the speculation that means the Raiders are now again running the zone-blocking scheme. Gruden said:
No. I think Cable’s background is one of the outside zone, the inside zone, but he’s also a very versatile coach. He’s proven that. He can run gap schemes. He’s going to run what we’re good at running. If we have a good back, and some good linemen and a tight end and a fullback, we’ll have a good running game with Tom Cable. But we’ve got to get the components in place so he can be all he can be. That’s something we’re working on right now. He’s a versatile coach, certainly he’s an expert in the zone scheme and I’m excited about that, but there’s a lot of ways he’s run the ball in his background.
Gruden has always been a guy who identifies strengths and runs with them. So if power blocking is a strength of this line – and it is – then it’s clear that will be the focus. Cable’s ZBS experience can only be a positive as it adds versatility to the potential.
Will Marshawn Lynch be running behind that scheme? After rumors of Lynch skipping out on Gruden were debunked last week, Gruden spoke about Lynch during the interview. He mentioned the rumors of Lynch skipping out on him, and showed his continual disdain for the current CBA rules about player contact:
You’re not allowed to do anything. You’re not allowed to coach your players. I’ve called several players, introduced myself. I think that’s legal. I’m not having contact with everybody. I’ve had people call me to tell me that Marshawn Lynch didn’t show up to a meeting that we had. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff out there that’s being written that’s not even true. We’re not allowed to have any real contact. It’s pretty clear on what the rules are. All you’ve got to do is read ’em.
He stopped short of saying Lynch would definitively be back, but he certainly didn’t rule it out either:
I have talked to Marshawn briefly. We’ll see. We’ll keep everybody posted. Right now, he’s our leading ballcarrier. He’s our back, and we’re counting on him. Hopefully we get an opportunity to work together. that’s a man that has a lot of respect in this league as a player and I certainly have respect for him also.
There’s been speculation that due to some drop off in play and perceived poor attitude, Michael Crabtree could be on his way out. Gruden didn’t appear to see it that way, and specifically mentioned Crabtree and hoping to help get him back on track in the coming year(s) perhaps:
I got to bump into Crabtree. Hopefully we can get the best out of Crabtree and his career.
It’s, again, nothing definitive but it doesn’t sound like a coach who’s done with Crabs.
Gruden is jazzed up. He’s got a roster full of players that excite him:
I think we’ve got a great young quarterback, I think that’s enough to be excited about. I think a lot of our center, and I think the quarterback-center (Rodney Hudson) battery is as good as I’ve ever had in football. I’m really excited about the two guards (Kelechi Osemele, Gabe Jackson), obviously. That’s the strength of this team. And Khalil Mack, I think he’s a proven superstar football player. I think the excitement around working with Amari Cooper is just certainly pretty cool.
He’s hired a coaching staff that he respects and has a ton of NFL experience and success: ‘
A lot of the guys I coached with are head coaches now or coaching at different places. I feel great about the guys we were able to get. Rich Bisaccia is some I’ve got history with. Edgar Bennett (wide receivers), Mike Trgovac (defensive line), I’ve got a lot of history with those guys. Have a lot of people that I know well. Paul Guenther (defensive coordinator), I have history with him and am really excited to get guys like Tom Cable (offensive line). I think Derrek Ansley (secondary) is going to be a star in this profession. Going to be a great secondary coach. Really excited to get him. And Tom Shaw, our strength coach, is very established in this business and he’s going to change the way we’ve done things here and hopefully our players respond to it. I really like the guys that we’ve assembled.
Gruden is grinding again, working his insane hours and as such hasn’t had a chance to do much more than work in the first month. Still, he’s happy to be back for sure, and still has that love for Raider Nation:
You come to work it’s dark, you go home it’s dark. You just try and get caught up on sleep and I haven’t really gone out much. But I’ve got a lot of respect and love for the Raider fans.
And they have a lot of love and respect for you, Jon. Between the staff, his assurances that they will run the best schemes possible and his disdain but acceptance of the CBA you get a sense that Gruden is comfortable, happy, and not at all behind the times after being off the sideline for 9 years.
Not much time to delve into mock drafts or free agency this week, but a few points.
MOCK DRAFTS & FREE AGENCY
Mock drafts are just that right now, because team needs will change after free agency. For what it’s worth, the majority of known mock drafts are still projecting the Raiders go defense in the first round. Where originally we saw mostly Vita Vea or Roquan Smith, we’re now seeing names like Tremaine Edmunds, Denzel Ward, Mike Huges, and Marcus Davenport. So, all over the board – but solidly defensive.
Speaking of the draft, the Raiders are currently lobbying to host the draft in Las Vegas in 2020, and are actually one of the five finalists. The Las Vegas Raiders aren’t wasting any time trying to make their mark.
Gruden said in his interview that they’ve evaluated the players on the roster, and taken a look at the salary cap situation. That checks out with the Amerson and Janikowski news of the past week.
More cuts are sure to come, and the Raiders have to look at their own in-house free agents before considering anything else. The most important would be NaVorro Bowman – as the decision on him could affect draft and free agent pursuits – and T.J. Carrie, who was by far their best defensive back in 2017.
If it makes money sense it would be wise to re-sign both, but the Raiders are poised to make some noise in the free agent market when talks are officially opened 23 days from now.
Amerson and Janikowski’s cuts save the team nearly $10M against the cap in 2017. Some of the better free agents on the market may command more due to supply-demand factors this season and the Raiders would be wise not to overpay. Much like when it comes to…
WANTING BRUCE IRVIN TO TAKE A PAY CUT
Irvin will make $8.25M against the cap in 2017, which is a fairly high number. Generally for a pass-rusher you want more than seven sacks and a few more impact plays. Irvin was in bubble wrap most of the season, needlessly dropping into coverage and playing out of position in the first ten games under Ken Norton.
John Pagano got the best out of Irvin in the last five games, but is it enough to pay him $8.25M? The Raiders will soon have to pay Khalil Mack and that will cost them quite a bit. Irvin loves Mack. Perhaps he’d be more willing to restructure knowing it would be keeping Mack around?
Regardless, the Raiders are hoping Irvin is willing to re-negotiate. Irvin, for his part, doesn’t really know if that will even be an option:
Y’all keep saying bring baby Reggie out but shit baby Reggie may not b back 😂😂😂😂🤷🏾♂️
— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) February 15, 2018
Well, that wraps up another edition of Raiders Roundup for this mid-February. Remember to come back each week to get your roundup of the past week. Keep coming back, because it’s only 10 days until the scouting combine (much more in next week’s roundup), 23 days until free agency, and a little over two months until the draft. There’s going to be a lot to talk about, as usual.