Raiders

Raiders' dates to keep in mind through April

685118.jpg

Raiders' dates to keep in mind through April

Can't get enough football news in general, Raiders updates in particular, now that the Combine is over? Pull out your calendar and a pen. Some important dates for Raiders fans to keep in mind through AprilMonday, March 5 -- Deadline at 1 p.m. PT for teams to utilize the franchisetransition tag on a player (SS Tyvon Branch, which would cost the Raiders between approximately 6.22 million and 6.459 million? RB Michael Bush, estimated to be between 7.778 million and 8.088 million? No one?).Saturday, March 10 -- Commitment to Excellence Dinner at Oakland Airport Hilton, free agent RB Rock Cartwright to be honored for second consecutive year.Tuesday, March 13 -- The start of the new league year. Teams must be in compliance of the salary cap, thought to be around 121 million for 2012 (the Raiders are reportedly some 11 million over at the moment), and unrestricted free agency and trades begin at 1 p.m. PT. Also, deadline for qualifying offers to retain exclusive negotiating rights for players with less than three accrued seasons.Thursday, March 15 -- FS Michael Huff's 4-million roster bonus reportedly due.Saturday, March 17 -- LB Kamerion Wimbley's 11-million base salary reportedly becomes guaranteed. Also, deadline for qualifying offers to retain right of first refusal of restricted free agents whose contracts are expired and, as such, the restricted free agent signing period begins.RELATED: Taking stock of Raiders' free agents
Monday, March 26-Wednesday, March 28 -- NFL owners meetings.Late March -- NFL awards compensatory picks for draft based on free-agent losses the year prior, and with the Raiders having lost the likes of CB Nnamdi Asomugha, LG Robert Gallery, TE Zach Miller and LB Thomas Howard, they could wind up with as many as three selections, including a third-rounder. Currently, Oakland only has a fifth-round and a sixth-round selection at its disposal after trades.Monday, April 2 -- Date on which new coach Dennis Allen can meet with the Raiders as a complete team for the first time. Offseason workout program begins under new strength and conditioning coach Al Miller.Early-mid April -- NFL announces schedule, and with the first anniversary of Al Davis' death of Oct. 8 falling on a Monday, wouldn't it make sense for the league to put the Raiders on Monday Night Football that day?Thursday, April 26 -- First round of the NFL draft (Oakland traded away its first-round pick for QB Carson Palmer).Friday, April 27 -- Second and third rounds of the NFL draft (Oakland traded away its second- and third-rounders for picks that became OL Joe Barksdale and Taiwan Jones, and Terrelle Pryor, respectively).Saturday, April 28 -- Fourth through seventh rounds of the NFL draft (Oakland traded away its fourth-rounder for QB Jason Campbell, holds its fifth- (No. 141 overall) and sixth-round (No. 174 overall) selections and traded its seventh-rounder for LB Aaron Curry).

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

guenther-bengals-ap.jpg
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.”