Del Rio: No handbook for transition to Vegas, 'focus on the here and now'

Del Rio: No handbook for transition to Vegas, 'focus on the here and now'

PHOENIX -- Jack Del Rio’s sat down for his annual media breakfast Tuesday morning surrounded by cameras. The Raiders head coach was the main attraction at this AFC function at the NFL owners meetings, and it wasn’t because his team finished 12-4 last year.

Most of this media throng wasn’t there to ask about Derek Carr’s rehab from fibula surgery or position battles waged during the offseason program.

They wanted to know about Vegas, baby, Vegas.

The Raiders were approved to relocate there Monday and he was asked about how he’ll deal with relocation issues despite the fact Del Rio will coach the Oakland Raiders for as many as three seasons.

That limbo length is unprecedented, leaving Del Rio without a road map for how to ease concerns about the future.

“It’s a little unique,” Del Rio said. “There isn’t a handbook out there. If there is, send it to me. There isn’t one out there. We’ll draw on the experiences we have in the group, and do the best we can to put a plan together and execute it.”

Del Rio said he’ll address relocation with his players once they convene for the offseason program, and try to keep them focused on the present. He recommends discussion with anxious family members as well, and to reiterate that there’s an extended stretch where relocation is only a concept.

“If you go back to this basic principle: It’s a year-to-year league,” Del Rio said. “Heck, it’s a week-to-week league. Don’t get too far ahead of yourselves. There is a story that’s going to be written that’s going to take off.

“We have to focus on the here and now. So much of the team turns over anyway, from the coaching staffs to the roster. Let’s just focus on taking care of business.”

Del Rio brought up a good point, that NFL rosters turnover at roughly 30 percent each year and coaching staffs fluctuate, so it’s possible many may never be a Raider playing in Vegas.

Del Rio anticipates being involved in the construction and amenities of a practice facility in the Las Vegas area at some point, though a location hasn’t been chosen yet. He said the Raiders have had discussions on how to help players and staff with the eventual transition and with player outreach to mitigate issues regarding readily available vices in Sin City.

Del Rio said he would ask Raiders alumni about the move to Los Angeles in the 1980s, and use their experience to help in this upcoming move.

He answered every question on this topic Tuesday morning, but hopes to move on from it when the offseason program begins next month.

“For us, it’s really about getting back to the task of the upcoming season,” Del Rio said. “We know we’re going to have nine games not on our home turf. We have a demanding schedule, and it’s going to be imperative that, as a football team, we focus on the here and now. … We had a good, strong year last year and we’re looking forward to building on that.”

Las Vegas will remain a topic moving forward, and Del Rio will be prepared to deal with the unexpected as he sails uncharted waters.

“(After this), maybe I can write a handbook I can pass out to the next team in this spot,” Del Rio said. “For me, it’s something you have to navigate. You have to appreciate some of the things that are coming, know what they are and address them.”

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.