Raiders

Dolphins trade away firepower ahead of game against Raiders

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AP

Dolphins trade away firepower ahead of game against Raiders

PHILADELPHIA -- The NFL-leading Eagles bolstered their running attack Tuesday, acquiring Jay Ajayi from the Miami Dolphins for a 2018 fourth-round draft pick hours before the trade deadline.

Ajayi has 465 yards rushing and is averaging 3.4 yards per carry with no touchdowns. He went to the Pro Bowl last season after running for 1,272 yards, including three 200-yard games.

"We like our running back group," Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said. "This was an opportunity that came to us, a good player who could add to our team. He's a young player who is under contract for the next couple years."

Dolphins coach Adam Gase signaled his displeasure with Ajayi last week after Miami was routed 40-0 at Baltimore, noting missed blocking assignments in pass protection .

"The running back, we never blocked the right guy," Gase said. "I don't even know if we know who we've got. We've got to get that fixed."

LeGarrette Blount leads Philadelphia with 467 yards rushing and is averaging 4.7 yards a carry with two touchdowns. Roseman said Blount remains the starter and he's confident Ajayi won't create problems.

"We weren't going to bring anyone here that would disrupt team chemistry," Roseman said. "We feel very confident and comfortable about the player."

The Eagles (7-1) have the fifth-ranked run offense and have won six straight games. On Monday, coach Doug Pederson wasn't sure the team needed any help.

"It has to be the right fit," Pederson said before the trade. "It can't just be anybody. From my standpoint, you don't want to disrupt the chemistry that is going on in the dressing room right now. Those guys are playing with a lot of confidence and they're rallying around each other so it would have to be a pretty special fit to make it work."

Ajayi fits the "special" category despite his inconsistent season. He had 122 yards rushing in Week 2 and 130 in Week 6.

Last year, Ajayi was lauded for his durability and ability to break tackles. He helped the Dolphins reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008, and joined O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell and Tiki Barber as the only players to rush for 200 yards three times in a season.

The London-born Ajayi wasn't drafted until the fifth round in 2015 because of a knee issue, but he has averaged 18 carries a game the past two seasons and has made 19 consecutive starts. Ajayi has been held out of practice a lot this year to protect his knees, and the Dolphins may have doubts about his longevity.

The Dolphins (4-3) needed a shake-up. They're in the playoff race even though they rank last in the NFL in points and yards.

With Ajayi gone, Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake are expected to share duties at running back Sunday against Oakland.

The Eagles have to make a roster spot for Ajayi. Wendell SmallwoodCorey Clement and Kenjon Barner are the other running backs on the roster. They lost Darren Sproles for the season in Week 3.

Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?

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USATSI

Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?

Jon Gruden doesn’t love offseason restrictions on player-coach interaction. They weren’t so strict when Gruden last coached nine years ago, but the new collective bargaining agreement prevents the new Raiders head coach from extended contact with his players at this stage in the NFL’s downtime.

He has, however, run into several Raiders stopping by the team’s Alameda complex.

Count running back Marshawn Lynch and receiver Michael Crabtree among them. Conversations with those talented, yet mercurial players will be key as Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie decide how best to use the salary cap.

Both guys have a long history of NFL production. Both guys are getting up there in age, and have some drawbacks. Both guys can be cut without a salary cap hit.

Gruden had nice things to say about both guys in a Wednesday interview with the Bay Area News Group.

He was asked directly if Lynch will be on the 2018 roster.

“I don’t know,” Gruden said. “I bumped into him. Some of these players that live locally do come to the facility to get a workout, see the trainer. I’ve been downstairs and met several guys. I have talked to Marshawn briefly. We’ll see. We’ll keep everybody posted. Right now, he’s our leading ball carrier. He’s our back, and we’re counting on him. Hopefully we get an opportunity to work together. That’s a man that has a lot of respect in this league as a player and I certainly have respect for him also.”

Lynch started slow but finished strong, and was the team’s best skill player in the season’s second half. He’s contracted to make up to $6 million in 2018.

Crabtree came up later in a discussion of what he likes on the roster.

“I got to bump into Crabtree,” Gruden said. “Hopefully we can get the best out of Crabtree and his career.”

Crabtree is coming off a down year following two stellar seasons in Oakland. He had just 58 catches for 618 yards – he still had eight touchdowns – but his targets and snaps decreased the last two weeks. He seemed at odds with the previous coaching staff, a group that was dismissed at season’s end.

Crabtree is set to make $7 million next season, though none of it is guaranteed.

Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders

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USATSI

Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders

PALO ALTO – Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie became a father on Super Bowl Sunday. Newborn son Elijah Carrie has been the sole focus these last few weeks, as T.J. learns on the job how to be a dad.

Pardon him if he hasn’t thought much about impending free agency. The 2014 seventh-round pick turned full-time starter has a rookie deal expiring soon, with a raise on the horizon following his best season as a pro.

That’ll come in March. Early February, however, has kept him otherwise engaged.

“I’ve been so busy with my little one, and I haven’t been getting any sleep,” Carrie said Thursday. “Learning how to be a dad has been so engulfing that I haven’t delved into the details of what free agency will mean to me.”

Soul searching wasn’t required to realize his dream scenario. The East Bay native wants to stay in Oakland, with a Raiders team he loved as a kid.

“My intention is to be here,” Carrie said. “I’m a Bay Area guy, a hometown kid. I couldn’t see myself being anywhere else. This is a passion for me. I dreamed about playing for the Raiders for such a long time. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to play there for four years, I want to finish (with the Raiders).”

Carrie wants to work with a new Raiders regime. He visited the team’s Alameda complex on Wednesday and met with new head coach Jon Gruden and defensive assistants. The interaction left Carrie wanting more, furthering his belief that be belongs in Silver and Black.

“Coach Gruden is very energetic,” Carrie said. “He’s a coach that likes to have fun but it a very business oriented guy. There are a lot of things, I imagine, that are going to change, just from the way he has done things. It’s going to be different, but I embrace it. It’ll be very challenging entering into a new regime, but there are a lot of positive factors involved with it.”

The Raiders don’t have many cornerbacks under contract come mid-March. They released David Amerson, and could do the same with Sean Smith later this offseason. Gareon Conley should start at one spot, but everything else is wide-open entering free agency and the draft.

Carrie could find value on the open market after recording 70 tackles and nine passes defensed in 16 starts. He’ll explore his options further next month, before free agency begins in earnest March 14.

“I know March is really when it starts to go down,” Carrie said. “My son will be a little older then, so I can focus more on free agency and make some more decisions.”