DENVER – The Raiders won’t know their 2017 schedule until the league unveils it in April. We already know who they’ll play, but will wait for the where and when.
They’ll play the entire NFC East and AFC East, home and away games in their division and two other teams that were confirmed on Sunday night.
The Raiders will play a home game against the Baltimore Ravens and a road contest at the Tennessee Titans. Those opponents were determined by the season’s final standings. The Silver and Black finished in second place, meaning they’ll play second-place squads from AFC divisions they wouldn’t otherwise see. In this case, it’s the AFC North and AFC South.
The Raiders have a tasty home slate – they host New England and Dallas, for starters -- and several games that seem destined for primetime. While the Raiders are expected to apply for relocation, they’re planning to play in Oakland the next two years at least.
Here’s a list of opponents the Raiders will play at home and away.
Home: New England Patriots, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs
Away: Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington football club, Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs
The Raiders lured fullback Keith Smith away from Dallas in free agency. The Cowboys suddenly had a need at the position, and called a Raiders team with a surplus.
They wanted Jamize Olawale, a tough, faster-than-you-think blocking back with receiving skill.
A draft pick swap got it done.
The Raiders traded Olawale and the No. 192 overall pick to Dallas for the No. 173 overall selection. NFL Network first reported the news. The Dallas Morning News revealed trade details.
The Raiders didn’t have a fifth-round pick this year, but now have two after trading Olawale and WR Cordarrelle Patterson in combination with a glut of sixth-round selections. They still have four remaining.
Smith is more of a true blocking fullback Gruden sought. Olawale doesn’t fit that old school mold, but is a versatile player who can produce if used correctly. He has dealt with injuries in the recent past, which also may have been a knock against him.
This thins the running back room a bit, but more ball carriers will be jettisoned before the season starts.
The trade also saved $1.6 million in salary cap space, important for a team where every little bit counts this offseason.
Olawale returns to the team that originally signed him as an 2012 undrafted free agent. He was cut at preseason’s end, and picked up by Oakland. He enjoyed a productive tenure in silver and black, though he wasn’t used much by 2016 offensive coordinator Todd Downing.
The Raiders aren’t necessarily done in free agency. They have a little cap space left, and could look for another receiver or defensive lineman. Middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman remains on the open market, and the Raiders hope to have him back.
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.