Raiders open at Titans, featured in five prime-time games for 2017

Raiders open at Titans, featured in five prime-time games for 2017

The Raiders have the fourth-toughest strength of schedule. They travel a bunch, have a tough road stretch and play five contests against 2016 playoff teams.

There are requisite home-and-home slates against the AFC West, a full turn in the AFC and NFC East. They lose a home game to Mexico City against the Super Bowl champion Patriots.

It’s clear the Raiders’ 12-4 record in 2016 excited TV executives, because the Silver and Black will be featured in five primetime matchups. That includes two night games at Oakland Coliseum, against Dallas and Kansas City. They play at Washington and Seattle on Sunday Night Football, and have a Monday Night game at Philadelphia on Christmas.

The full NFL schedule was released on Thursday evening. Let’s take a look at how it all shook out, game by game:

Raiders 2017 regular-season schedule
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 10, at Tennessee, 10 a.m. (CBS)
Comment: Raiders will play in Nashville a third-straight season. Might be a good thing, considering they’ve won there the last two years. Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota broke ankles on the same day last season. Seasons will start in the same game.

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 17, vs. New York Jets 1:05 p.m. (CBS)
Comment: Oakland’s home opener comes against Gang Green…Good defense, but still no quarterback…

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24, at Washington (Sunday Night Football) 5:30 p.m., NBC
Comment: The first of five primetime games starts in the nation’s capital.

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1, at Denver, 1:25 p.m. (CBS)
Comment: First division game of the regular season. Always a tough test in Denver.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 8, vs. Baltimore Ravens, 1:05 p.m. (CBS)
Comment: Third straight year the Raiders have played Flacco and friends. Raiders won the last two.

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 15, vs. L.A. Chargers, 1:25 p.m. (CBS)
Comment: Not sure what kind of matchup this might be. Lots of talent, but this team has been injury prone in recent seasons.

Week 7: Thursday, Oct. 19, vs. Kansas City (Thursday Night Football), 5:25 p.m. (NFLN)
Comment: Raiders had to travel two time zones on a short week. Chiefs doing the same this time around.

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 29, at Buffalo, 10 a.m. (CBS)
Comment: The start of two straight East Coast road trips. The Raiders asked for such a situation, and likely won’t come home in between games.

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 5, at Miami (Sunday Night Football), 5:30 p.m. (NBC)
Comment: The Raiders finished a two-game road trip last season with consecutive wins. Can they do it again?

Week 10: BYE
Comment: Bye week comes in the midst of a three-game road stretch, if you count a home game played in Mexico City.

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 19, vs. New England at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, 1:25 p.m. (CBS)
Comment: Thought this might’ve been a primetime game. Still an excellent matchup. Too bad for Oakland Raiders fans this “home” game is being played abroad.

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 26, vs. Denver at 1:25 p.m. (CBS)
Comment: Excellent offense vs. excellent defense. Long-standing division rivalry. A good matchup the last few years.

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 3, vs. New York Giants 1:25 p.m. (FOX)
Comment: The Raiders have a stacked schedule. This one is sneaky tough.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10, at Kansas City, 10 a.m. (CBS)
Comment: Raiders have struggled at Arrowhead Stadium lately. They’ll need to play well despite an early kickoff. Raiders could contend for the AFC West title again this year.

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 17, vs. Dallas (Sunday Night Football), 5:30 p.m. (NBC)
Comment: Best matchup of the year for fans in Oakland coming in primetime. Excellent matchup between two rising powers. Should be a fun time in the East Bay.

Week 16: Monday, Dec. 25, at Philadelphia (Monday Night Football), 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Comment: Raiders spending Christmas night in Philly. Might be a cold one against Carson Wentz.

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31, at L.A. Chargers, 1:25 p.m. (CBS)
Comment: Raiders will miss playing at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium, their home away from home. They might make Carson’s StubHub Center another one if the Bolts aren’t in it and fans start selling their tickets.

Gruden, McKenzie set to sell Suh on the Silver and Black


Gruden, McKenzie set to sell Suh on the Silver and Black

Ndamukong Suh’s coming to Alameda. Jon Gruden, Paul Guenther and Reggie McKenzie will have a chance to make a pitch, explaining exactly why the superstar defensive tackle belongs in the Silver and Black.

McKenzie (and owner Mark Davis) would’ve relished this opportunity last time Suh was a free agent. The Raiders had plenty of cap space in 2015 but oh, so many needs coming off a 3-13 campaign, and weren’t prepared for his market value to go nuclear. McKenzie steered clear of the mushroom cloud, and Suh’s deal set a new market for defensive players.

He made $60 million over three years in Miami, but didn’t see his contract’s second half after lackluster team results and hints of inconsistent effort. The Dolphins are reportedly angling for a culture change, and didn’t think Suh would help the transition.

That put him back on the open market, with more guaranteed dollars dancing in his head. Suh’s on a free-agent tour rare in the modern NFL, where dollars are committed quick once free agency opens. Suh’s slow playing this one, thus far hopping from New Orleans to Tennessee to L.A. to see the Rams on a private jet. His charter will land in Oakland Wednesday to see what the Raiders have to offer.

There’s little doubt what Suh can bring. He’s the best interior defensive lineman east of L.A.’s Aaron Donald and would be a perfect fit for Guenther’s scheme. That system needs a Geno Atkins type. He made the Guenther’s Bengals go in recent seasons, and Suh’s certainly better when going strong.

The real question’s what the Raiders can offer that others can’t. The Titans and Rams have more salary-cap space, as it stands right now. The Raiders are the only non-playoff team in his bunch, with the other three seemingly on the rise.

The Raiders could champion playing with Khalil Mack. The Rams have Donald, the Titans have Jurell Casey and the Saints have Cam Jordan. Suh has made reference to the final three in interviews with Yahoo! Sports.

Gruden, however, is certainly a selling point. Several signed free agents cited the A-list head coach as an attraction to joining the Raiders. A healthy, impactful Derek Carr and Suh’s addition to the defense could make the Raiders a real contender right away, something that will obviously get brought up in Wednesday’s visit.

Suh’s an Oregon kid, and the Raiders are the closest team to home. That might help.

He could make a pros and cons list about market, state tax issues, chances of winning, coach and locker room culture, but the almighty dollar can’t be ignored.

Can the Raiders put together an attractive financial package, one that would make them truly appealing? That’s the (multi-)million dollar question?

The Raiders don’t have tons of salary-cap space. In fact they're up against the threshold, though cutting veterans without guaranteed money easily creates space. The Raiders could keep Suh’s 2018 cap number lower through a signing bonus and fat roster bonuses in future years.

Make no mistake: the cap is not an impenetrable road block. The Raiders might have to get away from contract structuring practices that McKenzie’s people used to reach excellent salary-cap standing. That’s especially true considering the monster deal given to Carr last year and the mega-extension Mack will get soon.

We say all that with one caveat. Suh’s exact team-selection criteria aren’t clear. There’s no telling if this Alameda trip could help create a robust market, or if he’s taking the Raiders seriously. Making the trip means something, however, and will at least give Gruden and Co. a chance to woo Suh, lock him down and radically change expectations for the 2018 season.

Raiders remain on a receiver hunt as their top target signs elsewhere


Raiders remain on a receiver hunt as their top target signs elsewhere

The Raiders missed out on signing Ryan Grant. The former Washington receiver visited the team’s Alameda training complex, but left without a contract and ultimately chose to sign a one-year, $5 million deal with Indianapolis.

They lost that one, but are undeterred in their quest to upgrade the receiver corps.

They already signed Jordy Nelson and let Michael Crabtree walk, hoping for steady production and quality locker room leadership in the exchange.

Cordarrelle Patterson was traded to New England on Sunday, creating a spot in the position group.

The Raiders tried to fill it with Grant. No go, no matter.

They hosted veteran Eric Decker on Tuesday, according to multiple reports. They also declared interest in Allen Hurns, a player the Jaguars released Tuesday morning.

Hurns listed the Raiders among interested teams – he said there were 10 in total – in an interview with KFNZ radio in Charlotte, N.C.

Hurns has a 1,000-yard season to his credit – his biggest year came with now-Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson as Jacksonville's O.C. -- and two relative down years since. Injuries have also played a part in that.

Decker had a stellar four-year run with Denver and the New York Jets, but was less effective during two seasons in Tennessee. The 31-year old has experience in the slot, and could be a productive No. 3 option in Jon Gruden’s offense.

Gruden doesn't mind working with veteran receivers, something clear from his past and willingness to add Nelson as a major contributor. 

Even if the Raiders don't land a veteran receiver, they could also look for a receiver in the NFL draft.

Amari Cooper will remain the No. 1 option. Seth Roberts has $4.45 million guaranteed in 2018. Johnny Holton, Isaac Whitney and Keon Hatcher are also on the roster.