Originally published on SBReport.net on March 27, 2013
Reports have surfaced that the Raiders are expected to release veteran defensive tackle Tommy Kelly on Wednesday.
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has been ridding the roster of booming contracts in an attempt to create himself a more cap-friendly roster. Shedding Kelly's contract this year would save himself roughly $4.75 million dollars, but now creates even more dead money for the Raiders. The release adds an additional $6.324 million, building the team's dead money total to roughly $29 million after all the releases this offseason.
Kelly's contract, signed in 2008, is a great example of the late Al Davis' philosopher: let a player get "straight cash homie".
After going undrafted out of Mississippi State University, Davis gave his undrafted gem a seven-year, $50.1 million deal, making him the highest paid defensive tackle in NFL history at the time.
Kelly's production fell off this season as he only tallied 1.5 sacks, after recording 7.5 sacks in 2011. He accumulated 7.0 sacks in 2010. In all, Kelly leaves Oakland with 34.5 sacks and 420 tackles in his 129 games.
The release comes at an interesting time when it is believed that the Raiders are at a stalemate with quarterback Carson Palmer in regards to restructuring his contract. Reports have also surfaced that the Raiders may be interested in Seattle quarterback Matt Flynn.
The freed-up money may also help play in a factor in landing a cornerback on the free market as they have been looking at Terrance Newman, Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter. Porter has connections with Dennis Allen during his time in New Orleans and is scheduled to visit the Raiders on Wednesday.
More players are still expected to be released from the roster, including disgruntled middle linebacker Rolando McClain, along with the possibility of quarterback Carson Palmer if he decides to not restructure his contract.
Originally published on SBReport.net on March 18, 2013
Reggie McKenzie continues to make do with the cap space he has as he has found another solid signing with defensive tackle Vance Walker.
Walker is a solid interior defensive lineman that provides something the Raiders have struggled with as of late: stopping the run. There's no question that McKenzie recognized the lack of rushing defense after the team struggled in stopping the run last season.
The 25-year-old has appeared in 58 games for the Falcons and recorded 79 tackles and five sacks.
While he was a rotational player with the Falcons, Walker will possibly end up being a starter with Oakland's current lack of depth on the defensive side of the field.
Walker has experience being moved up and down the line, serving as defensive tackle and defensive end when only three defensive linemen are on the field. In other words, he brings a lot of versatility, which seems to be something McKenzie is looking for based on all of his recent signings.
McKenzie has been forced to help shore up the defensive line after Richard Seymour and Desmond Bryant have left due to free agency, and Tommy Kelly may also be on his way out with his expensive cap hit. The Raiders already signed former Bengals defensive tackle Pat Sims last week.
Originally published on SBReport.net on March 17, 2013
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has made it quite clear that he needed to address the linebacker position as he has signed his third new linebacker in the last week, making three of his five free agents signed of the linebacker variety.
McKenzie was forced to make the linebacker position a need with Philip Wheeler becoming too expensive and signing with the Miami Dolphins, and large letdown middle linebacker Rolando McClain most likely getting released.
Former Miami Dolphins linebacker Kevin Burnett is the newest linebacker to sign with the Raiders, joining Kaluka Maiava and Nick Roach as the newest linebackers. Burnett joins his brother Kaelin who is already on the Raiders roster.
The 30-year-old Califnornia native has started 16 games in each of his last two seasons with the Dolphins, racking up 109 tackles and 2.5 sacks last season in Miami.
Mr. McKenzie seems to have made the plan of finding linebackers in free agency and seems to be hoping to find some corners and defensive linemen either on the cheap or from the draft.
Originally published on SBReport.net on March 17, 2013
General manager Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders lost a couple more of players from last season's roster the last couple of days, creating even more holes on the roster.
Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy signed a deal with the Arizona Cardinals, while tight end and team receptions leader Brandon Myers signed with the New York Giants on Saturday.
Shaughnessy struggled this previous year, only recording 3.5 sacks and 31 tackles in 16 starts. Shaugnessy looked to be a building block for the Raiders in 2010 when he finished with seven sacks in eight starts, but then missed 13 games in 2011 with a shoulder injury. Shaughnessy's decline the past two seasons and fact that his solid season was before the McKenzie era made his departure to another team more likely.
The Raiders have already signed defensive end Jason Hunter this offseason, giving them another pass rusher to help replace Shaughnessy. With such a strong defensive draft class and a plethora of pass rushers on the open market, replacing Shaughnessy's production shouldn't be too difficult for McKenzie.
Myers on the other hand, was a case of a player hitting free agency at the right time. Myers had a career year last season, benefiting from quarterback Carson Palmer's lack of weapons and recording 79 receptions for 806 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Myers had just 32 total receptions for 250 yards and no touchdowns in his first three seasons combined. Contract terms for the 27-year-old tight end have not yet been released, but it is believed that Myers' breakout season likely made his asking price too expensive the McKenzie and the cash-strapped Raiders.
The absence of Myers adds yet another hole that needs to be replaced, as the Raiders seem to have little faith in the tight ends left on the roster in Richard Gordon and David Ausberry. It seems that if they held more belief in them, they would have seen the field more last season, knowing that Myers could be leaving on the open market.
Should McKenzie hold little faith in his two other tight ends, he will have to find a cheap replacement either through free agency or the draft. If not, expect to see Ausberry and Gordon battle it out for the job, as they bring different skill sets to the field. Ausberry is a wideout-turned-tight end that can catch the ball but struggles blocking, while Gordon is a better blocker and struggles at catching at times.
Only time will tell as to what Reggie does to replace yet another piece of his team that has departed for a different team.
Originally published on SBReport.net on March 15, 2013
Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders officially announced the signing of former Chicago Bears linebacker Nick Roach this morning.
Roach took some time to talk to local media Friday afternoon to discuss the process of being signed, what he sees with the Raiders, and how he feels he will fit in with the team.
You can see the full transcript from the conference call below:
Can you tell me a little about how quickly this came about? Did you entertain any offers from any other teams?
It was really just the Raiders, and the Bears obviously, who it came down to. So, I came out on the visit and we were just in a position to kind of gauge the Bears interest back and forth, and taking all things into consideration, it just seemed like Oakland was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.
Is it your understanding that you’re going to come in as middle linebacker?
They just kind of said that they see me being able to do a lot of things that they want me to do, so specifically at middle, I’m not sure if that’ll be the case but I think they kinda want to just get me in and see wherever the best fit is for everybody that they bring in.
You took over for Brian Urlacher at middle linebacker a lot last season, and got a good taste of the it. What do you like about the position?
Obviously you're on the field a lot and in the middle of everything, kind of get to a lot of plays that maybe if you’re on the outside you can’t get all the way across the field to get to. Just being in the mix, I enjoy that. I enjoy being in the game and kind of having to know situations, and knowing all the adjustments that go along with it, so just the whole thing.
How much do you think it helps for you in terms of showing the versatility and showing you can play both positions?
It’s huge. You don’t even really know yourself that you can do something until you have the chance to really do it. It was big, being able to get the film up there and obviously just for compliments of feeling your versatility is really worth something.
What is it about the opportunity here in Oakland that intrigued you?
It’s just exciting. The whole culture and the organization. In my mind, it’s on the upward so being able to come in and add to that hopefully is something to look forward to.
How much did playing with guys like Urlacher and Briggs help you develop into the player you are today?
It’s been great. Those guys are friends of mine, and more importantly they are great examples of just how to be a pro and how to be successful at the highest level for both of them. So kind of being behind them and next to them for the last few years has really helped to just kind of watch their leadership by example of what it looks like.
McKenzie and Allen have been pretty clear that they are looking for guys who don’t necessarily have to be on everybody’s radar, but those that love football and work it everyday. Does that sum you up?
Yeah I think so, I think there are a lot of guys like that, because there are a lot of guys that are under the radar. Just because, you won’t make too long in the NFL if you don’t love it just because you won’t have the motivation and stuff to do all the things that it takes. Like I said, it’s just exciting to kind of get in and be able get to learn everything and go from there.
Any concerns from your part about the Raiders being in kind of a rebuilding mode?
Honestly, it didn’t even cross my mind. I guess that’s an opinion that some people might have but, my concern was getting a chance to meet the coaches and just kinda seeing where they saw me fitting in and seeing if this situation was best for me and my family.
Are you a guy that’s going to come in with a lot of enthusiasm and takes over the defense, or more of a guy that just comes in and nobody can see how you lead that way?
I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a huge “rah rah” guy or anything, but I think I am able ot lead by example with just the daily things like taking care of your body and making sure you study your opponent and all that type of stuff. I think if i’m able to continue to do that and still translate to the field, that will be a good example.
Take us through what you’ve done to earn the Ed Block Courage Award and what that’s meant to you.
What it says to me is that you’re able to earn the respect of your teammates in your locker room, so that’s obviously a huge honor that you can get an award that is voted on strictly by the guys that you play with. I’m excited to go out there tomorrow and spend the next couple of days in the community and seeing what the award is really about in person.
Did you get the impression that having that award meant something to the Raiders?
Honestly I’m not sure. I’m sure if you want to call it a “resume builder” type of thing. It’s always good to have a name that says you’re respected by the teammates in the locker room that you’re in, so I’m sure that might have been a consideration.
When you came into the league as an undrafted free agent, were you just trying to make it past the first practice and the next practice and then the next practice? Or were you the type that said ‘I should have been drafted, I’m going to be in this league, and that’s that’?
For me it was just about whatever opportunity was in front of me I would try and take advantage of it. I was ecstatic when I made the practice squad in San Diego. I didn’t really feel like I got slighted or that I deserved anything more than what the opportunity presented at that time. Like I said, just the baby things have led up to this point where I was able to get the chance to play and produce a little bit.
Do you see a scheme here where it might let you spread your wings a little more than the Cover 2 like it did with Philip Wheeler last year?
I’m not sure yet. We haven’t had enough time to go that in-depth on it, but I know that it is a little different and we’ll be able to use a little bit more versatility in terms of just football playing ability. But I think that my time in Chicago I fit that scheme pretty well too, so to say that I’ll be anything more or less, I’m not sure yet.
Originally published on SBReport.net on March 15, 2013
Reports have surfaced that Reggie McKenzie has landed another linebacker, this time signing veteran linebacker Nick Roach.
Roach spent the last couple of days talking to the Raiders, and has apparently agreed to terms now.
The signing comes just two days after the signing of Cleveland Browns linebacker Kaluka Maiava.
Like Maiava, Roach adds some flexibility as he has been the Bears starting strongside linebacker since 2008 but adequately filled in for the injured middle linebacker Brian Urlacher for the final four games last season.
Roach has started 59 games in his six year career, including 29 over his last two seasons.
It is expected that Roach has been signed to be the Raiders starting middle linebacker, which would mean the end of the disgruntled Rolando McClain's career in Oakland, which has seemed inevitable. Roach had a total of 31 tackle during his last four games last season, the period when he started as the Bears middle linebacker.
The signing also presents the Raiders with what seems to be their starting linebacking corps: Miles Burris (WLB), Nick Roach (MLB) and Kaluka Maiava (SLB).
Reports have also surfaced that the Raiders are expected to sign Terrance Newman, but it has yet to be confirmed.
Originally published on SBReport.net on March 14, 2013
Raiders newly-signed linebacker Kaluka Maiava sat down for a conference call with local media for a quick couple of questions on Thursday.
How did this all transpire? Did the raiders show interest right away?
Well, you know, everything went through my agent and we had a few teams interested. Raiders wanted an interview real quick, they were the first ones to schedule one, so I took the trip. Coming into it, I always grew up a Raiders fan, being from the Islands, we always watched Raiders and San Fran games so it was definitely a team I was familiar with. My ears definitely perked up when my agent told me about Oakland being interested. I already came in with high hopes and fortunately we got a deal done. I’m very excited about it.
What do you think you can bring to the table?
I’m a hard nosed guy, I come to work every day, I lead by example. I’m not the rah rah guy leading speeches, but I lead by example and I come to work every day. I play hard and I’ll go to war with anybody, man, and I feel like my teammates will appreciate that. I’m a tough guy, I pride myself on being one of the tougher players, and I’m here to win. So, hopefully everything works out in that aspect.
Best suited for 3-4, or 4-3?
We haven’t really gotten into anything scheme wise and all the details of what I’m gonna be doing. I’m just glad to get the business part out of the way, now when we come back we can get even more done on actual football. But I’ll play anything. Whatever the coach needs, whatever it takes to win, I’ll play whatever spot they need me at.
Originally published on SBReport.net on March 13, 2013
The Raiders have made their first splash in the free agency period, as the Raiders announced they have signed former Browns linebacker Kaluka Maiava to a three-year, $6 million deal according to ESPN's Adam Schefter during the second day of free agency.
Maiava spent his first four years in the league with the Cleveland Browns, playing in 50 games and accumulating 133 tackles, 4.5 sacks and five forced fumbles.
The 26-year-old linebacker gives the Raiders some versatility as he was drafted to play inside linebacker under former Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's 3-4 defense, but then was moved to outside linebacker in the Browns' 4-3 scheme. Linebacker became a priority with Philip Wheeler heading to Miami and Rolando McClain expected to be released.
Just minutes after it was reported Maiava had signed, reports surfaced that Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders signed former Bengals defensive tackle Pat Sims. Sims represents a big run-stuffing defensive tackle that can fill up running holes when he is on the field. Key phrase there is "when he is on the field". Sims has suffered injury problems and has played in just 60 games in his five-year career, accumulating 5.0 sacks and 83 tackles.
The Raiders offer Sims a perfect opportunity to help get his career back on track, as he has reportedly signed a one-year deal and can prove his worth just as Wheeler did last season.
With veteran Richard Seymour and Desmond Bryant leaving for free agency, the defensive tackle spot was also left bare for McKenzie to fill.
The Raiders also announced the signing of defensive end Jason Hunter, who last played for the Denver Broncos in 2011 after spending 2012 on the injured reserve with a triceps injury. Hunter, who is entering his eighth year out of Appalachian State, has recorded 11 sacks, six passes defensed and three forced fumbles over 88 games, including 23 starts.
“We’re excited to add three veterans through free agency,” McKenzie said, “helping to create depth and competition on defense. We’ll continue to add free agents as the opportunity surfaces."
The Raiders also announced they have re-signed cornerback/return man Coye Francies to a one-year deal. The Raiders also signed CB Phillip Adams to the same deal on Tuesday.
Originally published on SBReport.net on March 12, 2013
There's no question that Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie inherited a tough situation when he took the job as GM after the death of iconic owner Al Davis.
After a 4-12 first season with head coach Dennis Allen, the events of Tuesday's free agency frenzy could not have pleased the second-year general manager.
While he was unable to secure any new players, McKenzie was forced to watch as his two best free agents signed with other teams.
Linebacker Philip Wheeler signed a one-year deal with the Raiders last offseason and made the most of it as he led the team in tackles with 109, to go along with 3.0 sacks. In return, the 28-year-old linebacker got straight paid by the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday. ProFootballTalk.com reported that Wheeler signed with the Dolphins for five years for $26 million, with $13 million of that fully guaranteed.
Wheeler leaving the team gives the Raiders one less linebacker, and most likely means they have to replace two starting linebackers with Rolando McClain all but gone after last year's outburst. Assuming McClain is also gone, that leaves only second-year linebacker Mile Burris currently on the roster.
While Wheeler was busy signing his deal with the Dolphins, defensive tackle Desmond Bryant also left the Raiders while reportedly signing with the Cleveland Browns.
Bryant was largely considered the best defensive tackle in this year's free agency class even after being arrested last month and appearing with what may be the worst mugshot in the history of the NFL.
Albert Breer of NFL Network has reported that Bryant's deal is five years for $34 million, with $15 million guaranteed. The 27-year-old defensive tackle had four sacks and 35 quarterback hurries, fourth in the NFL, while starting only eight games.
The departure of Bryant doesn't come at a good time after the front office chose to void veteran Richard Seymour's contract. Tommy Kelly has long been a favorite to be released or asked to restructure his deal due to his high salary hit this upcoming season.
There's no question that after the cuts of Michael Huff and Darrius Heyward-Bey, to go along with the departures of Wheeler and Bryant, the Raiders roster is indeed in a worst state than it was in what was a 4-12 season. With that being said, the cuts were a necessary step for McKenzie to get rid of overpriced contracts and free up some salary cap space.
Luckily for the Raiders, next month's draft has plenty of defensive talent, now it's up to McKenzie to find it.
Originally published on SBReport.net on March 12, 2013
While other teams around the league were busy calling wanted players, Reggie McKenzie and the Oakland Raiders front office was busy releasing current players to make some cap room, as was first reported in the PREMIUM section of RaiderFans.net.
The Raiders announced through their twitter account the release of safety Michael Huff, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and defensive end Dave Tollefson. The announcement came about four hours into the much-awaited free agency period on Tuesday.
"The Raiders would like to thank Michael Huff and Darrius Heyward-Bey for their contributions to our organization, both on the field and especially in our community, over the last several years. We sincerely wish them well in their future endeavors," the Raiders said through their twitter account.
McKenzie was believed to have about $8.5 million to spend before the move, but by looking at the numbers, it appears he will have closer to $25 million after the releases.
Heyward-Bey was believed to be a salary cap casualty because of his high contract and lack of consistency, but Huff came a little bit of a surprise. Though Huff's release does save the team another $6.5 million or so.
Though Tollefson's release only saves the team about $1 million, the combined savings by the three moves saves the team about $15 million in cap space should the team split the dead money over two years for Huff and Heyward-Bey.
Late owner Al Davis was largely criticized for taking Heyward-Bey before two-time Fred Biletnikoff Award winner Michael Crabtree. Heyward-Bey hauled in 140 receptions for 2,071 yards and 11 touchdowns in his four years with the Raiders.
Huff was drafted out of the University of Texas as a free safety but later switched to cornerback this last season due to injuries and a thin corner position.
Oakland will get busy looking for players to fill the many holes in the roster, including the one left by linebacker Philip Wheeler, who apparently is heading to the Miami Dolphins, according to ProFootballTalk.com.
In other news, the Raiders were able to re-sign Phillip Adams to the roster with a one-year deal.