McKenzie confident Raiders, Carr will agree on contract extension

McKenzie confident Raiders, Carr will agree on contract extension

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie drafted a franchise quarterback in 2014. Derek Carr is his guy, and has budgeted accordingly.

McKenzie wants to extend Carr’s deal this offseason, before he enters a contract year. The 25-year old signal caller wants a deal done before training camp starts. That’s 10 weeks away, plenty of time to hammer out the biggest deal in franchise history.

An extension is expected. Make no mistake about that.

McKenzie wants to keep Carr. Carr wants to stay. Both sides want a deal done soon. That’s nothing new. McKenzie and Carr have screamed those sentiments from the mountaintop.

Carr’s camp and the Raiders have talked about contract parameters already, though serious talks haven’t started. McKenzie said they would at some point after the NFL draft, though NFL Network reported Carr is frustrated the Raiders haven’t reached out yet.

The Raiders will at some point this spring, and start discussions on a long-term contract extension for the public face of their franchise.

McKenzie said he hasn’t sensed frustration in his interactions with Carr.

“I see Derek every day. We have a great relationship and communicate very well,” McKenzie said Wednesday in an interview with 95.7-The Game. “That’s not going to be an issue at all.

“As far as the contracts go, I don’t like discussing contracts outside these walls. I kind of keep that as my mantra, to keep that in house. But the bottom line is that we love Derek and we want to keep him. We’re going to everything to make sure this contract gets done.”

Carr has stated several times he wants to be a Raider his entire career, but a hometown discount isn’t in the cards. The Raiders have budgeted for big-money extensions given to Carr and Khalil Mack. McKenzie also hopes to extend right guard Gabe Jackson this offseason.

Carr will end up with the biggest salary of the bunch. It isn’t an easy deal, especially with the prospect of moving to Las Vegas – there is no state tax in Nevada – and an ever-increasing salary cap and NFL television revenue.

McKenzie understands big money is required to lock Carr down.

“The only thing that comes to my mind is that I want Derek Carr to be a Raider for his career,” McKenzie said. “That’s the only thing that comes to mind. We’ll get it done however we need to get it done. When you’re talking about negotiations and all that, I’m not the negotiator, but I will make sure that…I want Derek here and I want him to be a Raider. He knows that.

"We’ve had many discussions leading to that. We want Derek, and Derek wants to be here.”

Quarterback drafted by Jon Gruden in 2008 signs with Raiders


Quarterback drafted by Jon Gruden in 2008 signs with Raiders

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden had a hand in drafting Josh Johnson a decade ago. The agile quarterback and Oakland native was a Tampa Bay’s fifth-round pick in 2008, Gruden’s last year as Buccaneers coach.

The pair will reunite in Johnson’s hometown. The well-traveled quarterback signed with the Raiders on Monday, the team announced.

Johnson will compete with Connor Cook to backup starter Derek Carr, and brings a veteran’s influence to the position group. It likely spells the end of EJ Manuel’s short tenure in silver and black. The strong-armed former first-round pick, who started one game last season, remains a free agent after a year with the Raiders.

This move should make Marshawn Lynch happy. He and Johnson are extremely close and together run the Family First Foundation, a charitable organization that does significant work for East Bay kids. Johnson and Lynch also played football together at Oakland Tech High.

Johnson has played 10 NFL teams prior to this Raiders stop, but hasn’t played in a regular-season game for some time.

Raiders well equipped to 'slam the ball with a beast'


Raiders well equipped to 'slam the ball with a beast'

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden needed specific tools to run his running game. He wanted blocking tight ends and a bruising fullback, relics of a bygone offensive era.

“If Marshawn Lynch is the feature back, I think it’d be nice if we serviced him with a fullback,” Gruden said at the combine. … You need a blocking tight end if you’re going to slam the ball with a beast. So, those are two things that I’m looking for.”

Gruden said he wanted to import some old-school elements to help run with brute force.

Enter free-agent fullback Kyle Smith and tight end Derek Carrier. Welcome back, Lee Smith.

Then, on Sunday, Raiders made another vital move in this old school effort. They cut Marshawn Lynch a $1 million check.

The Oakland native’s roster bonus came due and the Raiders had no problem paying it, the clearest sign Lynch will be the Raiders feature back in 2018.

He’ll have a great chance to thrive in that role. The Raiders have a hulking, expensive offensive line (that still needs a right tackle). They have new ancillary blocking elements, and the centerpiece remains in place.

That last part was expected in recent weeks. The coaching staff, offensive line coach Tom Cable especially, wanted Lynch back. NFL Network confirmed those facts, stating Lynch will be around in 2018.

That was the case, even with Doug Martin’s addition. The former Tampa Bay back is expected to be a backup bruiser, someone who might put DeAndre Washington or (less likely) Jalen Richard’s job in jeopardy.

The Raiders can cut Lynch without a cap hit. Lynch is scheduled to make $6 million in salary and bonuses, with another $2 million available in incentives. The Raiders should hope to pay those; it would mean Lynch is running well.

The Raiders have given him a great opportunity to do so. They have solid blocking and a coach in Cable who helped him succeed during dominant days in Seattle.

Lynch proved he’s still got it in 2017’s second half, with 70 percent of his 891 rushing yards in the final eight games. He struggled early on, and upset some fans by helping the opposition during a scuffle with Kansas City. That mitigated a PR bump the Raiders looked for when signing a popular Oakland native just months after committing to Las Vegas long-term.

Jack Del Rio and staff grew tired of what they perceived as leeway given to Lynch unavailable to others, and probably wouldn’t have kept him on if still gainfully employed.

Gruden seems committed to Lynch this season, though nothing is ever 100 percent with an enigmatic rusher who doesn’t make private thoughts public.

His elusive, rough-and-tumble rushing style fits well with what Gruden wants, though he demands commitment to the team and sport. Sports Illustrated relayed a story of Gruden saying he needed a “full-time Lynch.”

If he gets that, the Raiders run game should thrive.