Raiders Twitter mailbag

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
12:00
PM ET
With the NFL draft moved back two weeks, we are now less than three weeks away from the league's lifeblood transfusion. Let's get a Twitter mailbag going in the interim:

 
The Oakland Raiders have finalized their preseason schedule, meaning we also now know when they will begin training camp in Napa, Calif.

Oakland announced Friday it will open its preseason schedule on Aug. 8 at the Minnesota Vikings at 8 p.m. ET. Since teams can begin camp 15 days before their first exhibition game, the Raiders should begin camp on July 24.

The Raiders' second exhibition game will be in Oakland against the Detroit Lions on Aug. 15 with kickoff at 10 p.m. ET.

Oakland will then travel to the Green Bay Packers for Week 3 of the preseason, Aug. 22 at 8 p.m. ET.

The defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks close out the Raiders' exhibition schedule on Aug. 28 at 10 p.m. ET.

Oakland's regular season schedule will be announced later. Opponents and location are already known, though, as the Raiders play host to the San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins (in London on Sept. 28). The Raiders play at the New England Patriots, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, St. Louis Rams, Seattle and the Chargers, Broncos and Chiefs.
The Oakland Raiders, who hold the No. 5 overall pick, are in full draft mode with less than three weeks to go until the first round goes down on May 8. But with free agency still open for business, we’ve updated our Raiders tracker to include reported visits to the team compound by college players as well as updates with their six tendered exclusive-rights free agents:

Raiders free agents

LT Jared Veldheer -- signed a five-year, $37.5 million deal with the Arizona Cardinals on March 11.

DE Lamarr Houston -- signed a five-year, $35 million deal with the Chicago Bears on March 11.

RB Rashad Jennings -- signed a four-year, $14 million deal with the New York Giants on March 12.

CB Tracy Porter -- signed a two-year, $6 million deal with Washington on March 13.

RB Darren McFadden -- signed a one-year, $4 million deal to return to the Raiders, with $100,000 guaranteed and $2.25 million in incentives on March 15.

FS Charles Woodson -- signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract to return to Raiders on March 21.

DT Vance Walker -- signed a three-year contract with Kansas City Chiefs worth a maximum of $13.75 million, guaranteed at least $3.75 million on March 14.

DT Pat Sims -- signed a one-year, $1.45 million contract to return to Raiders on March 28.

CB Mike Jenkins -- signed a one-year contract worth up to $2 million with Tampa Bay Buccaneers on March 20.

CB Phillip Adams -- reportedly agreed to one-year contract with Seattle Seahawks on March 27.

S Usama Young -- signed a two-year, $2.5 million contract to return to Raiders on March 19.

WR Jacoby Ford -- signed a one-year, $750,000 contract with the New York Jets on April 1.

DT Daniel Muir

OT Tony Pashos

DE Jason Hunter

C/G Andre Gurode

TE Jeron Mastrud

Exclusive rights free agents

FB Jamize Olawale -- team announced he signed tender on March 25.

RB Jeremy Stewart -- team announced he signed tender on April 2.

LB Kaelin Burnett -- team announced he signed tender on April 17.

SS Brandian Ross -- reportedly he signed tender on March 8 (team hasn't announced).

CB Chimdi Chekwa -- reportedly he signed tender on March 5 (team not announced).

OT Matt McCants

Who else is gone?

RG Mike Brisiel cut by Oakland on April 1, saving the Raiders $1.38 million in salary-cap space, though he'll still carry a cap number of $3.93 million.

Who's new?

OL Rodger Saffold (St. Louis Rams) -- agreed to a five-year, $42.5 million deal ($21 million guaranteed) with the Raiders on March 11. Deal voided with Oakland's concerns over Saffold's shoulder the next day. He re-signed with the Rams immediately.

OL Austin Howard (New York Jets) -- signed a five-year, $30 million deal ($15 million guaranteed) with Raiders on March 12.

DE Justin Tuck (New York Giants) -- signed a two-year, $11 million deal with Raiders on March 13.

LB/DE LaMarr Woodley (Pittsburgh Steelers) -- signed a two-year contract worth up to $12 million with Raiders on March 13.

CB Tarell Brown (San Francisco 49ers) -- signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with Raiders on March 14.

DL Antonio Smith (Houston Texans) –- signed a two-year, $9 million deal with Raiders on March 14.

WR James Jones (Green Bay Packers) -- signed a three-year, $11.3 million deal with Raiders on March 17.

OL Kevin Boothe (New York Giants) -- signed a two-year, $2.625 million contract with Raiders on March 17.

LT Donald Penn (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) -- signed a two-year, $9.6 million deal, with $4.2 million guaranteed, with Raiders on March 19.

QB Matt Schaub (Houston Texans) -- acquired in a trade for a sixth-round selection in the 2014 NFL draft on March 21.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars) -- signed a three-year, $7.5 million deal with the Raiders on March 28.

DL C.J. Wilson (Green Bay Packers) -- signed a one-year, $795,000 contract with Raiders on March 28.

CB Carlos Rogers (San Francisco 49ers) -- signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with Raiders on March 31.

P Daniel Zychlinski (Stanford) -- camp leg signed on April 4.

Who’s visited or will be visiting ... reportedly

DT Jason Hatcher (Dallas Cowboys) -- signed a four-year, $27.5 million contract with Washington on March 13.

DE Henry Melton (Chicago Bears) -- signed a four-year, $29 million contract with Dallas Cowboys on March 19.

RB Andre Brown (New York Giants) -- signed a one-year, $645,000 contract with Houston Texans on April 7.

LB Dane Fletcher (New England Patriots) -- signed a one-year, $2 million contract with Tampa Bay Buccaneers on March 16.

LB Rob Jackson (Washington) -- re-signed with Washington to a one-year, $795,000 contract on April 4.

DB Terrell Thomas (New York Giants)

Reported college player visits to Alameda

QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)

QB Tom Savage (Pittsburgh)

QB Blake Bortles (Central Florida)

WR Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt)

CB Dexter McDougle (Maryland)

CB Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech)

WR Cody Latimer (Indiana)

* Contract figures culled from numerous reports.
In Mel Kiper’s first three mock drafts -- not counting his "Grade A" mock, in which he played the part of general manager for all 32 teams and made his best thought-out selections -- he stayed on the offensive side of the ball for the Oakland Raiders, who hold the No. 5 overall pick.

Kiper predicted the Raiders would go with Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins in each of his first two mocks, then had Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater going to Oakland in his third mock. (Kiper selected Auburn left tackle Greg Robinson for the Raiders in his Grade A mock.)

So where does Kiper see Oakland going in his Mock 4.0?


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

We conclude our list of the bottom 5 Oakland Raiders free-agent signings in franchise history with receiver Javon Walker checking in at No. 1…

Perhaps the only thing more strange or star-crossed than Walker’s NFL career was Walker himself.

Or perhaps that ungodly six-year, $55 million contract with $16 million guaranteed Walker was feted with by the Raiders and Al Davis in 2008. (And before you start screaming and wondering where cornerback DeAngelo Hall is on this list, he was acquired in a trade.)

Walker delivered more strange moments in two years in Silver and Blackdom than highlight-reel catches.

There was the beating he endured in Las Vegas. The non-stop knee injury he claimed was healed by a mystery doctor whose identity he refused to divulge. The rumor that Davis talked him out of retirement to sign with the Raiders.

“I don’t know,” Davis said in 2008 when asked if he had, indeed, convinced Walker to keep playing, after the infamous Lane Kiffin/overhead projector media conference.

“See, that’s the problem. I’m pretty close to some of the players and I try to stay away from them. I stay away from them. I stay away because I don’t want the head coach to be upset. Javon can play. He can play.”

Well, he could play. At one time, anyway.

In 2004, he caught 89 passes for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Green Bay Packers and went to the Pro Bowl.

In 2006, his first season in Denver, Walker had 69 receptions for 1,084 yards and eight TDs.

But after being limited to just eight games and 26 catches in 2007, the Broncos cut him and the Raiders swooped in.

His, ahem, production in two years with the Raiders? Try 15 receptions (or, more than $1 million per catch), one touchdown ($16 million for that TD) and 196 receiving yards. And all of that came in eight games in 2008.

In 2009, he appeared in three games and the only stat he had was a fumble.

You could say the Raiders fumbled big time with the Walker signing. But that would be too easy.

Previous lists

Top 5 free-agent signings

5. Jerry Rice

4. John Matuszak

3. Rich Gannon

2. George Blanda

1. Jim Plunkett

Bottom 5 free-agent signings

5. Mike Brisiel

4. Aaron Brooks

3. Desmond Howard

2. Larry Brown

1. Javon Walker

NFL Nation Buzz: Oakland Raiders

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
10:00
AM ET
video
ESPN.com reporter Raiders reporter Paul Gutierrez talks about the team picking a quarterback in the draft.
We continue our list of the bottom 5 Oakland Raiders free-agent signings in franchise history with cornerback Larry Brown checking in at No. 2…

Brown, a 12th-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 1991, benefited mightily on the field from the Cowboys signing Deion Sanders in 1995 to take away the other side of the field. Brown would benefit in his wallet a year later.

With Sanders in Dallas, Brown responded with a career-best six interceptions, including two that he returned for touchdowns. And then when Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Neil O’Donnell threw a pair of passes into his bread basket in Super Bowl XXX, Brown walked away with the game’s MVP award.

Brown then became a wealthy man, courtesy of the Raiders. And while it’s easy to say Al Davis was simply blinded by Brown’s hardware in giving him a five-year, $12-million contract with $3.5 million guaranteed, Brown did have a total of 10 interceptions the previous two years. And Davis loved his press corners with a man-to-man mindset. It’s how, Davis believed, you build a team.

Thing was, Brown was not the prototypical shutdown corner. Far from it. And it showed. Immediately.

Brown did not live up to the contract, or any other expectations.

In two seasons with the Raiders, he played in just 12 games and started one -- ONE! -- getting one interception, before he was sent packing. Brown resurfaced in Dallas in 1998 and played in four games for the Cowboys before calling it a career.

Previous lists

Top 5 free-agent signings

5. Jerry Rice

4. John Matuszak

3. Rich Gannon

2. George Blanda

1. Jim Plunkett

 

Bottom 5 free-agent signings

5. Mike Brisiel

4. Aaron Brooks

3. Desmond Howard

2. Larry Brown

1. ?

NFL Nation TV debuts

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
1:30
PM ET
Join us today at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT as ESPN’s NFL Nation TV debuts on Spreecast with host Paul Gutierrez (Oakland Raiders reporter), co-host Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and guest Jeff Legwold (Denver Broncos reporter). Topics will include free agency, the upcoming draft and other current events in the NFL in particular and the world of sports in general. Users are encouraged to log in and ask the panelists questions as well in the chat feature.

Here's the link for the NFL Nation TV.
A joint Global Salary Survey by ESPN The Magazine and Sportingintelligence looked at “the spending trends of 294 teams in 15 leagues in seven sports across the globe” and, among other data, came up with the average amount a team spent on a player in terms of salary.

So where did the Oakland Raiders fall in the survey?

In spending an average of $1,178,657 million per player in the 2013 season, the Raiders ranked 182nd in the world, just behind Nuremberg of the Bundesliga ($1,237,484 million) and just ahead of Japanese baseball’s Yomiuri Giants ($1,178,036 million).

Among NFL teams, the Raiders were 31st, with only the Arizona Cardinals paying their players less of an average salary ($1,123,249).

Perhaps the most surprising piece of data to come out of the survey was that the NFL, with its monster television ratings, had its top average paying team (the Minnesota Vikings, at $2,315,053 million) rank just 115th overall, “behind all 30 NBA teams, all but two major league baseball clubs and 13 of 20 English Premier League clubs.”

The survey looked at the “base” salaries of 8,663 “first-team” athletes worldwide, excluding endorsements, and it came to an amount of $16.15 billion, with the money converted to U.S. dollars.

Oakland, it should be noted, was in Year 2 of its self-described “deconstruction” in 2013 as the Raiders shed salary. As a result, they fell 26.1 percent in average salary from the previous year’s salary, dropping from 173rd to 182nd.
We continue our list of the bottom 5 Oakland Raiders free-agent signings in franchise history with return specialist Desmond Howard checking in at No. 3 ...

Howard, the 1991 Heisman Trophy winner out of Michigan, had already played in the NFL for Washington, Jacksonville and Green Bay the previous three seasons when the Raiders gave him a four-year, $6-million contract in March of 1997, less than two months after he was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXI.

Oh sure, Howard was electric for the Packers in beating the New England Patriots, 35-21, for the Lombardi Trophy. He returned four kickoffs for 154 yards, including a 99-yarder for Green Bay’s game-sealing score, and six punts for 90 yards, with a 34-yarder.

But he was never a game-breaking receiver, yet, in 1997 dollars, that’s what the Raiders paid him.

Howard was actually the second straight Super Bowl MVP to be signed by Oakland in as many years (yes, Larry Brown is either No. 1 or No. 2 on this list; stay tuned).

In two seasons with the Raiders, he caught six passes for 46 yards, without a touchdown. And a year after leading the NFL with 58 punt returns for 875 yards and three TDs with the Packers, Howard returned 27 punts for 210 yards, sans a score. He did, though, return an NFL leading 61 kickoffs, for 1,318 yards in 1997.

And in 1998, Howard returned two punts for TDs in Oakland. But a year later, he was gone, back to Green Bay before finishing out his journeyman 11-year career in Detroit.

The Raiders had many issues upon returning to Oakland from Los Angeles and while Howard may not have caused their ship to sink under Joe Bugel, he did not serve as much of a patch for Jon Gruden’s rebuilding project, either.

 

Previous lists

Top 5 Free agent signings

5. Jerry Rice

4. John Matuszak

3. Rich Gannon

2. George Blanda

1. Jim Plunkett

 

Bottom 5 Free agent signings

5. Mike Brisiel

4. Aaron Brooks

3. Desmond Howard

2. ?

1. ?
video

NFL teams haven't had trouble spending money in free agency.

As of Sunday, 255 players have been signed or re-signed off the unrestricted free-agent list, leaving about 150 players still looking for jobs. With $336.1 million of cap room remaining, more deals will get done, most of them one-year contracts at minimum salary.

But don't expect a rash of huge contract extensions anytime soon. Current market conditions aren't favorable for long-term deals.

Few elite players will make it to the open market soon. The first issue is the fifth-year option for first-rounders taken in the 2011 draft, the first year under the new collective bargaining agreement. Draft choices signed four-year contracts, but teams were given the ability to execute a fifth-year option at less than franchise value.

Top-10 draft picks can be optioned at the transition number at their position. Players taken at spots 11 through 32 are tendered at the average salary of the third through 25th players at their position.

As it turns out, the 2011 draft was great. Twelve of the top 16 picks have been to the Pro Bowl at least once. The draft was so good that the easy thing for teams to do is take the fifth-year option and deal with the situation next year. Between 20 and 23 players are expected to get the option year tag, which is guaranteed for injury only in 2015.


(Read full post)


With the Oakland Raiders transitioning from free agency to the draft, let's get a Twitter mailbag going.

The week began for the Oakland Raiders with a visit from polarizing quarterback prospect Johnny Manziel, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M.

It will end with a stopover by an intriguing draft climber in Pittsburgh QB Tom Savage, ESPN.com has learned.

[+] EnlargeTom Savage
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsTom Savage passed for 2,958 yards and 21 touchdowns last season for Pitt.
Savage, initially projected as a fourth or fifth-round draft choice but becoming a hot topic of late, will fly into Oakland Friday and visit with the Raiders. Oakland is impressed with his size -- he measured 6-feet-4, 228 pounds at the combine -- and arm strength -- many observers thought he had the strongest, if not necessarily the most accurate, arm at the combine as well.

He has transferred twice, starting out at Rutgers before going to Arizona, though he never played for the Wildcats, before finding his way to Pitt. His wayward ways have been a topic of conversation for teams interested in his services, Savage said at the combine.

"You see someone transfer twice, your immediate thought is probably a red flag, there is something wrong," he said. "Obviously, my journey has been a little different. It's helped me mature as a person and I wouldn't want to do it any other way."

In his lone season at Pitt, Savage passed for 2,958 yards with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions while completing 61 percent of his passes last year. He was knocked out of the Panthers' Little Caesers Pizza Bowl victory over Bowling Green in the first half with a rib injury after completing 8 of 13 passes for 124 yards.

"I definitely want to bring toughness," he said. "You have to be that guy who can take a couple of hits and keep your eyes down the field and still make the big-time throws you need to make. Everyone here has big arms. You have to be accurate. You have to be a poised quarterback and be able to handle the pressure."

Savage, who would no doubt be a project in the making, would seemingly fit the mold for the Raiders, who are going all in with Matt Schaub under center and Matt McGloin as the primary backup (Terrelle Pryor has likely played his last down in Oakland, general manager Reggie McKenzie has intimated). Though that was also the plan last year when Oakland acquired Matt Flynn to be the franchise quarterback, targeted Matt Barkley before the draft before taking Tyler Wilson in the fourth round.

Besides, if Twitter is a barometer, a Raiders jersey with "SAVAGE" on the back of it would be immensely popular to fans.
Holding the No. 5 overall selection in the upcoming NFL draft could be seen as a both a blessing and a curse for the Oakland Raiders. After all, to get such a prime pick, the Raiders had to have a down season the year before ... and going 4-12 qualifies as such, meaning they have many needs. Even after signing 11 free agents from other teams, plus four of their own, and acquiring quarterback Matt Schaub in a trade since free agency opened March 11.

In his fourth mock draft , which is on ESPN Insider today, Todd McShay addresses a couple of needs for the Raiders, which should satisfy fans and Oakland's front office -- if it does indeed go this way.


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