Carr will play out rookie deal if Raiders extension isn't done by camp

Carr will play out rookie deal if Raiders extension isn't done by camp

ALAMEDA – Quarterback Derek Carr prefers to focus on football. He understands a long-term contract extension on the agenda, with serious talks starting posthaste.

NFL football, after all, is big business. Top-flight quarterbacks get a decent slice. 

The Raiders wanted to wait until after the NFL Draft before cranking up negotiations. Carr has made it clear a deal should be done before Raiders training camp begins this summer.

Players should report July 28, with the first full-squad practice the following day. Carr said he won’t talk contract after that, and would be content to play out the final year of his rookie contract.

“I wouldn’t even answer my phone,” Carr said after Tuesday’s OTA practice. “The money isn’t the thing that drives me. If it was, I shouldn’t be standing here, to be honest. What drives me is making sure I’m getting the best of my abilities, and making sure that we win. I don’t want anything distracting from that thought process at all. That’s not a jab or anything like that. It’s just me saying that I’m not going to deal with anything that’s not helping me focus on winning.”

Carr doesn’t want his contract to become a distraction. An extension should reach nine figures with significant guaranteed money, but he doesn’t want to think about it when the season ramps up and winning becomes his only concern.

He doesn’t want teammates bothered by it, either. Khalil Mack was asked about Carr’s contract talks last week on SportsCenter, which irked the young quarterback to no end.

A roughly eight-week window remains to agree on terms of a huge extension the Raiders have budgeted for and don’t mind paying. General manager Reggie McKenzie has said a deal will get done – both sides expect that – and that it’s an offseason priority to reward his franchise quarterback financially. The Raiders plan to pay Carr, guard Gabe Jackson and edge rusher Khalil Mack hefty sums in the relatively near future. Carr's deal might be the most pressing.

There’s time to iron out a complicated contract that would be the biggest in Raiders history, though Carr said there’s “nothing new to report” toward achieving that end.

“I’m hoping things will pick up here real soon, which we’re expecting anyway,” Carr said. “They’ve been talking to my agent (Tim Younger), and things like that. Things will get going real soon I would hope because, once training camp hits, I’m all football. I’m not going to distract my teammates. You guys will want to know and things like that.

“Trust me, if it’s not done by training camp, we’re not going to be talking about it. I’m focused on football. I just want to win. All that other stuff is fun and cool and has to happen because it’s a business, but there are so many things I want to work on. And I don’t want to distract my teammates.

Carr again said he isn’t troubled by the pace of negotiations, but wants them wrapped during a downtime in the football schedule.

“Hopefully it will get done,” Carr said. “Both sides keep saying it’s going to get done. I’m not worried about it, to let you know that. Once camp starts, I don’t want to be a distraction. I’ve made it very clear I want to be a Raider my entire career. I don’t want to play for anybody else. They’ve told me how bad they want me, so we’ll see.”

Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster


Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster

The Raiders have a lot of quarterbacks under contract, certainly more than they’ll have come September.

That means the battle to be Derek Carr’s backup should be fierce. EJ Manuel had that title last year, with a shot to retain it after re-signing with the club on Thursday afternoon.

Veteran Josh Johnson signed up Monday, and those two will join third-year man Connor Cook behind Carr on the depth chart.

New head coach Jon Gruden loved Cook coming out of the draft, but the Michigan State alum failed to earn the backup job last season and must make a move up the depth chart to kickstart his career.

Manuel has a strong arm and starting experience, making him a steady and solid backup option. He completed 24-of-43 passes for 265 yards, a touchdown and an interception in two games when Carr was hurt.

Johnson might be a camp arm at this point, though he’ll be given a chance to compete this spring and summer.

Carr has been hurt for at least a small stretch in each of the last two seasons. Having Manuel in that spot might offer stability.

Gruden addressed last year’s backup quarterbacks last month at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Gruden on Manuel: “I think EJ is a young, talented guy,” Gruden said. “He’s been in the facility working out on his own every day. There is a bright upside to him, too, as a young quarterback to keep working with. He’s a free agent, but the Philadelphia Eagles proved that’s a pretty damn important position, isn’t it? Right? So we have to address that and see where we are.”

Gruden on Cook: “I am kind of surprised Connor hasn’t played in two years, other than the playoff game he got in as a rookie. After Derek got hurt last year, they turned the ball to EJ. I don’t know where Connor Cook is. I am frustrated right now that I can’t spend any time with him, but, April 9th (when the Raiders offeseason program starts) will be an exciting day for me and Connor Cook.”

Raiders sign tackle Breno Giacomini


Raiders sign tackle Breno Giacomini

The Raiders need help at right tackle, the lone vacancy along their offensive line. They signed a veteran presence on Thursday afternoon, adding 32-year old Breno Giacomini as the frontrunner to join the starting five.

He has 86 starts in 94 career games, and has been a full-time starter three of the last four years. Giacomini spent 2017 in Houston and the previous three seasons with the New York Jets.

He was a Seattle Seahawk before that, working with Raiders offensive line coach Tom Cable for three of his four years there. Cable gave Giacomini his first chance to start in the second half of 2011, and held the post through 2012.

The bond between the two is clearly strong, considering what Giacomini tweeted shortly after Cable got fired in Seattle.

Coach and player will reunite, hoping to provide steadiness on the right side of the Raiders offensive line.

He’ll compete for a starting spot with Vadal Alexander, second-year pros David Sharpe and Jylan Ware and possibly a drafted player. Giacomini should be considered the favorite unless the Raiders use an early pick on an offensive lineman.

Giacomini has plenty of starts, but his Pro Football Focus numbers aren’t pretty. The analytics says he allowed nine sacks, eight quarterback hits and 64 pressures with Houston last year. He had some decent years under Cable, and a return to that form might push him into the starting lineup for good. Time will tell on that front.