A weekly roundup of the latest news and happening involving the Oakland Raiders — free agency frenzy edition.
And we’re back, rounding up the second week of free agency and some other interesting things concerning the Oakland Raiders. Mock drafts are really getting into swing now that the combine and pro days are largely over, and scouts are itching to pull the trigger on their favorite players.
It’s also a good time to get a read on team needs with the first phase of free agency over. The Raiders did little in the way of big splash moves, per usual. But they did sign some solid players at positions of need. Some will start immediately while others, like Jordy Nelson, Rashaan Melvin and Tahir Whitehead, have a chance to really make an impact depending on their usage and health.
The Raiders re-signed a couple of veterans and newly signed a couple more this past week, a former Raider player and coach is now a pariah in Oakland, and the Vegas project continues to rise in costs. Some love what Gruden and McKenzie are doing – others hate it. What else is new?
So without further ado let’s round it up. But, with the caveat that this is all I’m saying about the Ndamukong Suh situation. Raider Nation wanted him regardless of the cost – which would be prohibitive. He decided not to meet the Raiders and looks to be signing with the Rams. He will not be a Raider. End of story. Attitude + Salary = probably a good thing.
First let’s get to the dirt.
Rod Woodson Talks Trash (?) About Raiders
Now, this depends on your take. Was Woodson just being harshly truthful? About some things, yes. There is no question that some of the things Woodson had to say on Skip & Shannon’s Undisputed ESPN show were true, like it or not. Derek Carr is not yet Aaron Rodgers. Gruden’s contract could be an albatross. But…
Was his tone that of a scorned lover, trashing their ex? Again, yes. And that’s the problem. We’ve all been taught it’s not always what you say, but how you say it. And Woodson sounded like he was drunk-dialing Skip & Shannon and getting some things off his chest about the one who done him wrong.
Raider players definitely didn’t like the toughness of their brethren being questioned, and starting with one of the most vocal players himself put Woodson on blast:
Lol I can honestly say I’ve never seen a coach get fired and then go on national tv and bash the players he coached and went to war with week in and week out. Shows your true colors. Makes me wonder did you really give us your all?! Ken norton would never do some shit like that
— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) March 23, 2018
Irvin wasn’t done there:
He use to be one of the first coaches sprinting out the building after work lol don’t get me started on yo ass
— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) March 23, 2018
Well then. That’s from a former player who would know these things. The Raiders putrid performance in the secondary with Woodson a mainstay supports this. Of course Raider Nation didn’t take kindly to being trash-talked on National television and did Woodson like you would a scorned ex trashing your name to all that could hear:
└📁 Former #Raiders
└📁 Rod Woodson
└🗑 Move to Trash
— 🅟Ⓙ (@RaiderPosts) March 23, 2018
Rod Woodson made me lose all respect for him. I don't consider him a Raider anymore. Slandering us just because the secondary HE COACHED turned out to be the worst in the league. 😒
— CARR'S PLAN 😇 ♠☠️🇳🇬 (@RaiderACE562) March 21, 2018
Somebody has to ask Rod Woodson, aka Assistant DB coach about his secondary last season: They set NFL worst record for interceptions and games without them. Also had some of the highest completion % given up in history of NFL. Oops. #RaiderNation
— hiSEAN808 (@Oahu_Raider808) March 21, 2018
They trashed him right back — with facts and receipts. It’s too bad this happened. I’ve always been a huge fan and Woodson is one of the best defensive backs in NFL history. He was a great Raider when he played and always had my utmost respect.
But after being fired a second time it appears he’s a bit bitter, and unfortunately let that come out in the wrong context. Between Irvin and Raiders Twitter he’s now dead to Raider Nation:
A live look at Bruce Irvin putting the finishing touches on Rod Woodson career in the black hole. pic.twitter.com/Pr84YmEXoq
— I'm here for this (@Rollicking_R8R) March 23, 2018
Moving on. As mentioned the Raiders saw fit to re-sign a couple of their veteran players this past week, and the one that moved the needle furthest – albeit mostly in the wrong direction – is…
The Re-Signing of Reggie Nelson
So on March 24, Ian Rapoport announced:
Free agent safety Reggie Nelson agreed to terms with the #Raiders on 1-year deal, source said. Someone to help teach DC Paul Guenther’s system.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 24, 2018
This was the very first response to this:
— Letter Carrier (@MexicanAfro24) March 24, 2018
This was part of a thread that discussed day-drinking, all in honor of re-signing Reggie Nelson. Whatever reason you need, if you can, day drinking is always recommended. I get it — sometimes on the field it looks like Nelson’s been drinking himself:
Reggie Nelson coming out the tunnel at the Coliseum as the starting strong safety for the home opener like pic.twitter.com/WYJbQxTpRd
— Gang$ton Hughes (@RyanPrime_) March 24, 2018
And people are HEATED:
Cut Crab – Cool I'll get over it
Moving to Las Vegas? – Ima rep it
Probably draft another "heartwarming story" in the 2nd RD- Reggie Mckenzie being Reggie Mckenzie
BRINGING BACK REGGIE NELSON!? pic.twitter.com/DPSUasUVoN
— Veggie Mac (@BMC2R4L) March 24, 2018
But is Reggie Nelson alone enough for this reaction? With Obi Melifonwu presumably healthy, Karl Joseph, Shalom Luani and special teams standout Erik Harris on the roster and the signing of Marcus Gilchrist, is there really a chance Nelson sees the field? Plus, the Raiders draft at 10 and it’s possible Derwin James is there and taken. Who knows?
As Rapoport mentions, DC Paul Guenther knows Nelson. Nelson knows Guenther, and knows his defensive system. Nelson has been praised by multiple coaches for his leadership and on-field teaching ability. That’s why he’s here – not to start at safety again. And Guenther is definitely looking for players to teach his system:
#Raiders brought back S Reggie Nelson for leadership, toughness, knowledge of Guenther’s defense. Same reasons I’m told they’re talking to FA CB Leon Hall. Would play nickel.
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) March 26, 2018
Honestly, on a team-friendly deal with no dead money and an easy cut if some of the young guys start getting it after training camp, this isn’t a bad signing. It only becomes a bad signing if a) Nelson makes the roster as a last resort over a younger player who is clearly better or b) Nelson earns a roster spot, but also starts/plays significant minutes because the young guys just aren’t getting it. But make no mistake, Nelson is back because of his leadership and familiarity with and ability to teach Guenther’s schemes.
Speaking of players familiar with Guenther’s schemes…
The Raiders Sign LB Emmanuel Lamur
And he’s happy about it to be sure:
"Feels like home." — @EmanLamur
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) March 22, 2018
Yet another signing that isn’t fancy on it’s face but is definitely a solid depth signing. Lamur has played six seasons in the NFL, first with Cincy and most recently with the Vikings. He’s started 15 games total, all under Guenther, and while he didn’t crack a star-studded LB corps in Minnesota, he was a core contributor and solid player:
Losing Emmanuel Lamur to the Raiders kind of stings, he was great depth for our LB core. Came in and made plays when asked of.
— Vikings Central (@MNVikesCentral) March 22, 2018
Lamur is a versatile 6’4″, 245 pound ‘backer who hasn’t seen the field much in starting situations, but is a special teams maven who was a captain in Minnesota last year. He also knowns Guenther’s system and moves well in space for a man his size. He appeared in all sixteen games for the Vikings and filled in for Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks admirably when they went down for spells. Lamur is the type of player a team needs at the end of the roster to be successful.
Another thing a team needs to be successful, shown best this past season to be sure, is a backup quarterback. Perhaps that’s why…
The Raiders Re-Sign E.J. Manuel
Hey, it was his birthday on March 19 — so perhaps a present to him?
Raiders sign up for more of quarterback they hope to need less. https://t.co/OIi8AyhQUk
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) March 22, 2018
After bringing in Josh Johnson, the Raiders re-signed Manuel to yet another team-friendly deal. Manuel stepped in for an injured Derek Carr a few times in 2017, and looked solidly unspectacular. Manuel has some talent but seems to shrink in the moment and doesn’t use his legs enough to make plays when needed.
The Raiders currently have four quarterbacks on the roster with Carr, Johnson, Manuel and Connor Cook. One can imagine they will only carry three. This is a deep draft for quarterbacks so a decent backup could be found in the later rounds. Do the Raiders draft a QB? Do they give Manuel another shot? Will Cook ever get it? Does Johnson have anything left? At least there’s depth to compete, and may the best player win. Or may a rookie come in and wow us all. Or…
Can Derek Carr please, please stay healthy so none of this matters?
The Raiders continued their trend of signing players who know the new coaching staff’s schemes, and also grabbed someone they hope can help keep Carr healthy.
The Raiders Sign OT Breno Giacomini
Yet another signing of an aging veteran who knows the coach’s system. Giacomini was drafted by Green Bay in 2008 and played under Tom Cable in Seattle for three seasons. He’s started 86 of 94 career games, including all 16 for the Texans at right tackle in 2017.
This sounds good on paper, as does Giacomini’s 6’7″, 320 pound build and his history with Raider coaches and executives.
But he’s not going to solve all the right tackle problems right away:
2008: 5th rd pick by Green Bay w/Reggie McKenzie there
2011: Named starter by Tom Cable in Seattle
2013: Starts Super Bowl for SEA
2016: Back injury ends season for Jets
2017: Gives up NFL most 64 hurries with Texans
— Levi Damien (@LeviDamien) March 22, 2018
Is this a depth signing? Well, after releasing Marshall Newhouse the Raiders have few options at RT. Donald Penn is aging and coming off his first serious injury so the tackle position in general is in flux and a little malleable at the moment. Giacomini is good for depth, but his stats from last season and struggles under Cable in Seattle are not encouraging signs that he can be a viable starter.
That’s about it for player news at the moment, but that’s not all from Raider land. Mark Davis was at the NFL owners meetings and…
Mark Davis Talks Raiders vs. 49ers
The Raiders and the 49ers used to play each other every preseason, part of a Bay Area rivalry that rarely sees the NFL regular season. Unfortunately escalating fan violence during and after the contests culminated in a violent stabbing and multiple assaults and the series was cancelled indefinitely.
Former Raider coach Jack Del Rio and Oakland native Marshawn Lynch wistfully spoke of the rivalry last season, wishing it could be reignited for the fans of the Bay Area. Well, Mark Davis is one that is all for that idea.
Speaking at the NFL owners meetings, Davis was asked about the series. His response is encouraging:
Could it restart this year? “We’ll see. . . That’s for others to make a decision on." https://t.co/1cxsP1w9H2
— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) March 25, 2018
However, as he points out he is not the one to make that decision. With the Raiders moving to Vegas in 2020 it’s distinctly possible the rivalry will lose some steam — but still, it’s worth exploring. Depends on your take I supposed but I always enjoyed hating yet another team out of love for the Silver & Black.
Some fans were taken back a bit when the rumored prices for the PSL and season tickets in Vegas dropped:
Season tickets for the new Raiders stadium in Vegas are 20…yes…TWENTY thousand dollars…
FOR ONE SEAT!
Some are 100k!
ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR A SINGLE SEAT! pic.twitter.com/MxwaU7ZKZa
— Joe Garibay (@JosephGaribay) March 23, 2018
It’s going to be difficult for Mark Davis to appease Raider Nation during the transition if he continues to do things like this. He’s saying all the right things:
“The Raiders were born in Oakland, and that will always be part of our DNA,” Davis said. “No matter where we go, that was our home. That’s where we started.”
“Right now, we’re serving the Oakland market. The fans there, and the Raider Nation is what we’re serving. We have never deviated from that, and we have great respect for everyone up there.”
The Raiders already have 50,000 deposits for season tickets in 2018, so Raider Nation is staying loyal – for now. But if Davis continues to jack up prices in the interim, fans are going to get antsy.
What the hell does he need the money for anyway? Are Supercuts and Hooters wings more expensive in Vegas?
FYI, Chris Parnell on Kimmy Schmidt is playing Mark Davis, owner of the world's worst haircut (also, The Raiders) pic.twitter.com/RDbdAk95MX
— Zach Malm (@muzach) June 3, 2017
Speaking of that Vegas move, like anyone who’s done home renovations knows – budgets creep up. Of course tickets are going to cost a mint – they need to recoup their costs. And those costs, unsurprisingly, continue to increase…
Vegas Move To Cost More Than $2B
Millions start to add up quickly when you move, build a crazy new training facility and stadium and propose massive parking infrastructures. The stadium alone has a price tag of $1.4B, and that doesn’t include the land cost and other work, which makes the actual cost closer to $1.8B.
Add in a $350M relocation fee paid from the Raiders to the NFL, and you’re already tipping $2B. Then, there’s the training facility at another $100M; and the team still needs to figure out what to do about parking infrastructure.
Enjoy your jerseys and memorabilia now, because if PSL prices and season ticket rumors are true a nice Amari Cooper may run you $500+ in a couple of years, just so the team can pay off their new digs. Never weep for an NFL team facing rising costs, for they will just them on to us, the fans. At least plans are moving forward rapidly and without fail at this point.
And that’s it for another week of Raiders roundup. More veteran depth signings – more Raider Nation angst at said signings. It’s hard to look at this roster and not see improvement, despite the age of many of the signees. But as usual, the regular season will tell the real tale. Remember the Eagles “dream team?” Awful. Remember the Eagles last season? True team effort down to the 53rd man.
You just never know.
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