Raiders to host Patriots in Mexico City during 2017 season

Raiders to host Patriots in Mexico City during 2017 season

The Raiders have given up a home game for the third time in four seasons, and they’re sending a prime matchup south of the border for the second straight year.

A 2016 Monday Night Football game was played in Mexico City. Next season, the Raiders exported their best home match up.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a Tuesday press conference that the Raiders will play the Patriots at Estadio Azteca next season at an undetermined date.

“We had a great experience last year,” Goodell said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better reception from our fans in Mexico. We always envisioned that it would be more than a one-year commitment.”

While last year’s Mexico City contest between the Raiders and Houston Texans was played on a Monday, Goodell said the league is leaning toward the game being played on a Sunday.

The Patriots are the crown jewel of the Raiders’ 2017 home slate, and giving that game to Mexico City is a disappointing, yet expected turn for Oakland Raiders fans hoping to welcome Tom Brady to the Black Hole.

The Raiders have been open to playing away from Oakland in recent seasons, which should remain common as the team looks to relocate away from their home market.

The Patriots have been perennial Super Bowl contenders over the last decade-plus, and the Raiders expected to improve on 2016’s 12-4 mark, meaning that game looks like a great matchup.

Owner Mark Davis is excited about returning to Mexico City. It’s Raiders stronghold that provided a home-game atmosphere for his team in 2016, even against the neighboring Texans.

“The Raiders are excited to return to Estadio Azteca and represent the National Football League once again on an international stage,” Raiders owner Mark Davis. “We enjoyed tremendous support from the Raider Nation in Mexico in 2016 and look forward to experiencing that great passion again this year.”

The NFL said tickets for this game will go on sale this summer. It sold out quickly last year.

Report: Raiders trade FB Jamize Olawale to Cowboys


Report: Raiders trade FB Jamize Olawale to Cowboys

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.

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.