Don't let the sour ending spoil the sweet memories of Crabtree's time in Oakland

Don't let the sour ending spoil the sweet memories of Crabtree's time in Oakland

Michael Crabtree served the Raiders well. He gave the receiver corps instant credibility back in 2015, when Amari Cooper was just a rookie and the Raiders were fresh off a 3-13 disaster.

The veteran got his own career back on track after a sour ending in San Francisco, with 922 yards and nine touchdowns that led to a contract extension.

Crabtree signed a four-year, $34 million contract extension on Dec. 9, 2015. He only played half of it. He got $17.6 million out of the deal before he was released Thursday in favor of Jordy Nelson.

This piece isn’t about that transaction. We have to mention the sad ending, where Crabtree clashed with Jack Del Rio’s coaching staff, conflicted some with Derek Carr (per The Athletic) and let frustration permeate through his position group.

He was barely used down the stretch last year due to aforementioned factors which, as much as anything, led new head coach Jon Gruden to go with Nelson over Crabtree in nearly a straight financial swap.

General manger Reggie McKenzie said Crabtree was in his 2018 plans until, of course, he found something better.

Crabtree’s time with the Raiders didn’t end well. NFL divorces rarely do. Just ask Packers favorite Jordy Nelson, kicked to the curb after a decade’s excellent service.

This isn’t a request to feel bad about his unceremonious exit. He’ll make millions somewhere else. My advice: Don’t forget the good times.

Don’t forget Crabtree’s penchant for clutch catches, especially in the 2016 season. His game-deciding two-point conversion in New Orleans was a thing of beauty. So were all three touchdowns in a road win against Baltimore. How about the “slice of blue” touchdown catch in San Diego? Or, how about the game-winning score on an untimed down last year to beat Kansas City?

There are too many third-down conversions to count, and 25 total touchdowns in three seasons in silver and black. He was Derek Carr’s security blanket, a heavily targeted option and often the No. 1 guy even with Amari Cooper on the pitch.

He was integral in the team’s first playoff push since 2002, and that shouldn’t be overlooked. Crabtree wasn’t perfect. Not even close. He didn’t like the media and rarely spoke to reporters, but that never mattered much to me. His Aqib Talib quarrels were a pockmark on his Raiders legacy, but he should be regarded as an excellent free-agent signing who gave the Raiders a lot in his time here.

Raiders could draft present, future help at offensive tackle this week


Raiders could draft present, future help at offensive tackle this week

Offensive tackles aren’t cheap, especially those featured on the left. The Raiders have paid Donald Penn decent sums in recent seasons to play at a Pro Bowl level, but he won’t be around much longer.

He could call it a career after his contract expires in 2019. The Raiders also need a shorter-term solution at right tackle after trial-and-error in recent years.

That puts offensive tackle firmly in play in the early rounds of this NFL draft. While the Raiders have more pressing needs in 2018, it makes sense to add a right tackle of the present and left tackle of the future right now.

Going young and cheap on the outside seems vital, considering how much center Rodney Hudson and guards Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson are set to make.

Going for a tackle at No. 10 overall shouldn’t be eliminated as a prospect, but it makes more sense to trade down some if targeting an offensive tackle in the first round. Here are some options early, and a smidge later, with the pedigree and talent to be a front-line starter.

Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
-- He’s the consensus top offensive tackle in this NFL draft, and some even have him going to the Raiders at No. 10. Projections have him going all over the first round, but should be available with a trade down from 10. He’s technically sound, with great work ethic and an ability to play on the right and left. Some consider McGlinchey unspectacular, but he’s reliable and fits most any blocking scheme.
Projected round (per 1

Kolton Miller, UCLA
-- Miller’s one of a surprising few expected to go in the first round, and is considered a player with boom-or-bust potential. He has excellent size and power, fully able to pass protect and run block into the second level. He identifies blitzers and surprise rushers quickly and adjusts, analysts say. He doesn’t have great bend and can be vulnerable against power rushers. Opinions vary on Miller’s NFL prospects, but he could be the second tackle off the board.
Projected rounds (per 1-2

Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
-- Brown is an All-American and Outland Trophy finalist with some great college tape, but had a terrible combine that hurt his draft prospects. His athleticism and strength were called into question, and analysts say his quickness is below average. He has great size at 6-foot-8, 360 pounds, but doesn’t have proportional strength. He could be coached up well, and may be a bargain later on Day 2.
Projected rounds (per 2-3

Joseph Noteboom, Texas Christian
The former Horned Frog has solid size (6-5, 319) and strength, with the ability to add more muscle. Analysts say he’s inconsistent, but flashed great talent and athleticism during the combine and the Senior Bowl. He plays well in space, but needs to remain technically sound under pressure. He has all the tools to excel in the pros, especially if paired with a good coach who can develop him quickly.
Projected rounds (per 2-3

Raiders sign talented but troubled ex-Panthers cornerback


Raiders sign talented but troubled ex-Panthers cornerback

The Raiders signed cornerback Daryl Worley on Monday afternoon, in a move that adds talent and starting experience to the position group.

Worley also comes with baggage. The Philadelphia Eagles released him on April 15 following an incident near the team facility where he was reportedly arrested on suspicion of DUI and was tased by police after becoming confrontational. He was arrested after being found passed out in a vehicle blocking a highway.

He has been charged with six offenses, including DUI, resisting arrest and weapons charges. He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for May 1.

The Eagles let Worley go just weeks after acquiring him in trade from Carolina for receiver Torrey Smith. 

The 23-year old has been a solid player in two seasons since being selected in the third round of the 2016 NFL draft. He has 25 starts to his credit, with 152 tackles, three interceptions and 19 passes defensed in 31 games played.

The West Virginia alum – he played with Karl Joseph in the Mountaineers secondary – could feature prominently among the Raiders top three cornerbacks alongside Gareon Conley and Rashaan Melvin.

Leon Hall and Shareece Wright highlight the team’s backup options.

Worley’s regular-season availability could be in jeopardy. He could face punishment from the NFL in addition to criminal charges. The league could suspend him if found in violation of the league’s substance abuse or personal conduct policies. Time will tell if the league levies punitive action.

This signing should not eliminate the prospect of taking a defensive back high in this NFL draft. Denzel Ward and Minkah Fitzpatrick are considered options at No. 10 overall.