Murray hopes to remain a Raider, but 'nothing concrete' from contract talk

Murray hopes to remain a Raider, but 'nothing concrete' from contract talk

Latavius Murray rose through the ranks to become a featured Raiders running back. The 2013 sixth-round pick spent his entire rookie year on injured reserve with an ankle injury and his second behind inefficient veteran running backs, patiently waiting for his opportunity.

It came late that year against Kansas City, when his 90-yard touchdown run proved he had the speed, vision and agility to excel at this level.

Murray has been a central figure since then. He broke the 1,000-yard barrier, was the AFC’s third-leading rusher and named a Pro Bowl replacement in 2015. Murray was part of a running back rotation this season. He had 788 rushing yards on 195 carries, 71 fewer than a year ago, but still averaged 4.0 yards per carry and had 12 rushing touchdowns in the regular season and another in the playoffs.

The Raiders didn’t win that playoff game in Houston, ending his season and possibly his time in Oakland. Murray will be an unrestricted free agent in this next league year, and should have suitors.

Murray hopes to stay put. He wants to re-sign with the Raiders this offseason and stay with a group that should be a regular playoff contender.

“I don’t think I ever want to be a guy that bounces around or anything like that,” Murray said Sunday. “I would love to finish my career here. I think it says a lot for any player who stays in one place. I would love to finish what I started, but I know how things could go.”

The Raiders could place a lower value on Murray than others, which could prompt him to sign with another club. Murray hopes to reach an accord and stay put. He said the Raiders have spoken to his camp about his next contract.

“There were conversations about it, but obviously nothing concrete or anything at this point,” Murray said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Murray is a popular player in that locker room, and the lead dog in the running back pack. The Raiders prefer a committee rushing approach, one that paid dividends in 2016. The Raiders ranked sixth in the NFL with 120.1 yards per game.

Quarterback Derek Carr, one of Murray’s closest friends, hopes the running back is retained.

“In this business, you don’t know the turnover, you don’t know what upstairs is thinking, you don’t know what they want to do,” Carr said. “We all know that we want him back. We love him. He’s one of my best friends in this whole world. Not just because he can run the ball, but because he can pick up blitzes. That goes unseen and unheard sometimes. I want him back. I know everyone here wants him back so hopefully we can do that.”

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.