Raiders

Gutierrez: Raiders scrambling to get under cap

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Gutierrez: Raiders scrambling to get under cap

Aug. 4, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVE
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Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comIt's crunch time for the Raiders' bean counters.With a 1 p.m. PT deadline for Oakland to be under the NFL's 120-million salary cap, the Raiders are purportedly feverishly working to shed salary andor restructure contracts. Because according to ESPN, the Raiders "enter the day more than 15 million over the salary cap."In this unusual post-lockout landscape, the top 51-paid players' contracts on the roster form the payroll, which has to be under the "soft" cap, giving teams some 3 million in wiggle room. There is always a way around the cap, and if Al Davis wants a certain player, he generally gets him. A rare exception, of course, being tight end Zach Miller.As theorized here and in many corners of Silver and Blackdom, the Raiders could potentially cut some relatively big names or restructure the deals of big name contracts to get under. Of course, that would put significant pressure on future years.Richard Seymour (two years, 30 million with 22.5 million guaranteed) and Stanford Routt (three years, 31.5 million, 20 million guaranteed) are likely, if unusual candidates to be re-worked, since they both re-signed this offseason, before the lockout hit.Then there are guys like right guard Cooper Carlisle (due 2.5 million) and receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who got on the practice field for the first time this camp on Wednesday with an undisclosed injury.Oakland's pursuit of free agent tight end Kevin Boss seemingly hinges on its cap issues, even as the Raiders have signed a glut of players in recent days, including quarterback Trent Edwards and offensive linemen Justin Smiley and Samson Satele while re-signing linebacker Kamerion Wimbley to an extension with 29 million guaranteed and free safety Michael Huff to a 32-million over four years-deal.Of course, there is also a lot riding on the players union re-certifying itself today to get the league year officially started. Otherwise, no players, not just the veterans signed since the lockout ended, can practice today.

Report: Fired by Raiders, Jack Del Rio a leading candidate for NFC DC job

Report: Fired by Raiders, Jack Del Rio a leading candidate for NFC DC job

Jack Del Rio may not be out of work very long.

Fired moments after the Raiders lost their season finale to the Chargers on Dec. 31, Del Rio is "leading candidate" to become the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants, according to ESPN.

Del Rio joining the Giants is contigent on Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur being hired as New York's new head coach. According to ESPN, the Giants are planning a second interview with Shurmur this week.

In three seasons with the Raiders, Del Rio compiled a 25-23 record. After a 12-4 record and a playoff appearence in 2016, the Raiders finished with a disappointing 6-10 record this past season.

Del Rio is still owed a considerable amount of money by the Raiders through the 2020 season, a number in the range of $15 million.

Del Rio broke the news of his own firing, informing the media after the loss to the Chargers.

"Spoke with Mark Davis after the game and Mark let me know that he's not going to be bringing me back. He told me he loved me and appreciated all that I did to get this program going in the right direction but that he felt the need to change. I told him I appreciated the opportunity he gave me and I mean that. Very grateful. My childhood team. But it's a results based business, I understand that.," Del Rio said on Dec. 31.

A week later, the Raiders hired Jon Gruden to be their new head coach.

New Raiders DC explains what attracted him to joining Jon Gruden

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AP

New Raiders DC explains what attracted him to joining Jon Gruden

Paul Guenther and Jay Gruden are great friends. The bond formed in Cincinnati, when both guys were Bengals assistants.

Jay Gruden moved on to Washington, and has been that club’s head coach since 2014. Last year, Jay Gruden tried to bring Guenther with him. The Bengals, however, wouldn’t let Guenther out of his contract.

It expired this month, allowing Jay’s brother Jon Gruden to purchase this hot commodity. The Bengals tried to keep him with a lucrative contract offer, but Guenther’s mind was made. He took the job as Gruden’s defensive coordinator, and the four-year contract that came with it. This is about more than money. Jon Gruden presented a unique opportunity worthy of Guenther moving on after 15 years in Cincinnati.

“I’ve known Jon for a long time,” Guenther said this week in a conference call. “Just the ability to come with him and start something fresh from the ground up really excited me. I’ve been in Cincinnati for a long time. My kids were basically raised there. I know a lot of the players. But to have this opportunity with Jon coming to the Raiders and the brand of the Raiders really attracted me. Overall, just an opportunity to come coach with him, see him do it, see how he runs this organization, this team, would be a great thing for me to learn from.”

The Guenther hire was important. He’ll be installing a new system and will have considerable clout running the defense with Gruden focused on the process of scoring points.

Guenther’s defense was built in Cincinnati, with current Minnesota head coach and former Bengals DC Mike Zimmer also contributing to the scheme. He runs a 4-3 defensive front with single-gap responsibilities. What you’ll see from Minnesota in the NFC championship will look a lot like the Silver and Black scheme next season.

“Structurally they’re very, very similar,” Guenther said. “I would say 80, 90 percent of the defense, the calls, the fronts, the coverages, the terminology is all about the same. I spent a long time with Mike. Really, when he came over from Dallas and Atlanta to Cincinnati, he had the system that was probably 60 percent intact and then we kind of built up to where we are today. Certainly, I have my own little things that I added to the defense as I went along. He’s added things. We’re always talking in the offseason, just because we’re close friends, about the things that he’s doing, things that I’m doing. I would say it’s very similar.”

The Bengals didn’t blltz much under Guenther, especially last season. He isn’t averse to bringing extra guys. He just didn’t need to dial up those plays with the Bengals pressuring the passer without extra help.

“It all depends on how many we can get home with four (pass rushers),” Guenther said. “I think the thing you really have to look at is the amount of pressure you’re getting on a quarterback. If you don’t have to blitz and you can get home with four guys.

“…I love blitzing, I got every blitz in the book up on my board here. We got it all – double A’s, overloads – any blitz you can imagine, we have it. That was what my role was with Mike Zimmer (when he was Bengals DC) coming up with the third-down blitzes. I’m certainly all for it, but I think from a team perspective, and you’ve got to really see how the game is going.”

Guenther inherits a defensive depth chart with some star power, young talent and holes aplenty. The Raiders have some issues at linebacker, safety, defensive tackle and cornerback. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin are solid off the edge, but the unit needs a talent infusion. There’s roster flexibility, with high-priced veterans easily cut if Guenther and Gruden so choose.

“I believe there’s a lot of good players here, a lot of good, young players,” he said. “You’ve got to get them out and develop them and get them to understand your system. But I think there’s a lot of good pieces here for a foundation for sure. Obviously, every year, whether you’re the number one defense in the league or the number 32 defense in the league, you’re always looking to add pieces and fill out your lineup card. That’s what we’re going to be working through this spring and through the draft and through free agency as well as developing the young players that we have here. This day and age in the NFL when you draft guys and you think they’re worthy, you have to get them out on the field. You can’t sit on these guys for a couple of years because before you know it, their rookie contracts are over and they’re out the door. I certainly think there’s some good, young prospects here that I’m eager to work with.”