Raiders

Raiders sign WR Jordy Nelson to two-year deal

Raiders sign WR Jordy Nelson to two-year deal

UPDATE (4:23pm PT on Thursday): The Raiders announced the signing of former Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson.

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Raiders quarterback Derek Carr picked up Jordy Nelson at Oakland airport on Wednesday afternoon. That’s when the recruiting pitch started and it carried on for hours, through dinner at an East Bay locale.

Nelson didn’t head back to the airport. He stayed in town, and his camp started hammering out details of a new deal. It was done Thursday morning.

Nelson agreed on terms of a two-year contract to join the Raiders. NFL Network analyst James Jones, a former Raiders and Packers receiver and Nelson’s good friend, first reported the news.

A league source confirmed that information to NBC Sports Bay Area.

Jones reports that Nelson agreed on a $15 million deal, with $13 million guaranteed.

This deal mark Nelson’s first professional change of scenery. He spent the last decade in Green Bay. He was released for salary-cap reasons, and was in Oakland the next day.

Nelson scheduled free-agent visits in Seattle and New Orleans, but cancelled them after agreeing to a deal in Oakland.

The Saints and Seahawks tried to pry Nelson from Oakland’s grasp, which may have helped bridge a financial gap between the team and the receiver’s camp. All that, however, has been resolved.

Nelson’s now in the mix. He’ll provide locker-room leadership and accountability, in addition to steady hands, solid route running and excellent improvisational skills.

His addition also sends Michael Crabtree’s out the door. The veteran receiver was set to earn $7.7 million in salary and bonuses, though none of it is guaranteed.

The Raiders were able to cut him freely and use funds not re-allocated to Nelson for other positions. Having Nelson, Crabtree and Amari Cooper on the field at the same time seems like a good idea, but spending smart is the theme of this Raiders offseason.

They have several other needs in free agency, especially in the defensive backfield and defensive line. They’re still working to re-sign middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman, but must find a replacement if he leaves the Bay Area.

Jettisoning Crabtree is unpopular among the fan base – he made huge plays over the last three seasons – but he fell out of favor with Jack Del Rio’s staff and wasn’t beloved by everyone in the locker room after losing became common last year.

The receiver market exploded this week, and Crabtree could find significant funds on the open market.

Nelson’s coming off a down year and will be 33 in May, but the Raiders clearly believe he can be back on track. He had 53 receptions for 482 yards and six touchdowns in 2017, though quarterback Aaron Rodgers was injured most of that season.

That ended a three-season run with at least 1,250 receiving yards, though a torn ACL stole his 2015 season. He hasn’t looked as quick since the injury and gaining separation could be a question mark, but veteran savvy could help him produce steadily.

Nelson’s sure hands can’t be underscored, especially on a team with drop issues. He had two drops in 84 targets last year, and six drops on 158 targets in 2016. He has caught 68.4 percent of his targets during an illustrious career he hopes can thrive working with Carr and new head coach Jon Gruden.

He’s familiar with receivers coach Edgar Bennett and general manager Reggie McKenzie from his Green Bay days. Having Carr’s arm and Gruden’s offense – where veteran receivers have thrived – was surely an attraction.

Nelson and Cooper will be primary targets, with Seth Roberts looking to rebound from a down year.

Reggie McKenzie unconcerned with Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper contract situations

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USATSI

Reggie McKenzie unconcerned with Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper contract situations

ALAMEDA – Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie didn't offer much, if any, insight Friday during a pre-draft press conference the NFL forces GMs to host. Execs comply begrudingly, unwilling to part with information so close to the NFL draft. It's hard to blame McKenzie for staying tight lipped. There's no sense in giving hints before a draft where knowledge is king.

He didn't make news on Friday, but tons will come next week. The NFL draft starts near week's end, so 11 new selections will enter the fray, with some undrafted players. 

The Raiders have a mini-camp scheduled just before the draft. The three-day session is voluntary, but stands as the first time head coach Jon Gruden can run a Raiders practice during this offseason program.

Khalil Mack isn’t expected to show. The elite edge rusher has stayed away from the Raiders offseason program while his representation works out a long-term contract with the Silver and Black.

There’s no timetable to get it done, and a pact isn’t terribly close despite reports of positive negotiations and an understanding from both sides Mack isn’t going to be cheap.

Reggie McKenzie hasn’t heard from Mack recently, which is not cause for concern.

“I have not,” McKenzie said in a Friday press conference. “We’ve just been focusing on the draft and the coaching staff and focusing on these players that are here and getting ready for the mini-camp next week.”

A deal is expected in time, and the Raiders have budgeted to pay Mack top dollar. He’s expected to set the market for defensive players, though Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, taken three picks later in the 2014 NFL draft, is also expecting a massive sum this offseason.

Mack might want Donald to sign first and then have his deal top it. Donald might want the same thing. It may behoove the teams to allow the other to set a market which could offer some savings.

McKenzie said he isn’t worried about what the Rams do with Donald.

“We look at Khalil as his own situation,” McKenzie said. “We’re not looking at anybody else. We’re just focusing on our guy.”

The Raiders will also be focused, in time, on Amari Cooper’s future with the club. The receiver’s entering the final year of his rookie contract, though the Raiders have a fifth-year team option available to keep Cooper through 2019.

McKenzie wouldn’t commit to exercising it Friday -- he's fully expected to -- though NFL teams must do so by May 3. That would increase Cooper’s salary to the average of the top 10 players at his position when the option is exercised. That would put him in line to make $13.9 million in 2019, though the sum is guaranteed for injury only but becomes fully guaranteed on the first day of the 2019 league year.“Going into the draft now, that’s what we’re focused on, but we’ve been in contact with his agent,” McKenzie said. “I don’t want to put anything out there before…I don’t want to put the cart before the horse, so to speak. But we like Amari.”

McKenzie on Aldon Smith

The Raiders cut ties with edge rusher Aldon Smith early last month, when he was involved in a domestic violence incident that has since resulted in criminal charges. Smith is now involved with an in-custody rehab program after violating conditions of his bail.

McKenzie lamented not seeing Smith turn things around and the inability to support him after he was banished from the league as a repeat offender of the NFL substance abuse policy.

“It’s hard,” McKenzie said. “Aldon really tried and we tried, but once you get into the program and you have to send him away, there’s only so much we can do as far as getting our hands on him. Pray for the best for Aldon.”

Raiders 2018 schedule released: Analysis and predictions

Raiders 2018 schedule released: Analysis and predictions

WEEK 1
Monday, Sept. 10 vs. Los Angeles Rams, 7:20 p.m.

Jon Gruden goes head-to-head against protégé Sean McVay in primetime, in the season opener and on a Monday Night Football telecast Gruden was on for nine seasons. That's must-see TV. 

Prediction: L.

WEEK 2
Sunday, Sept. 16, at Denver, 1:25 p.m.

The Broncos might be the AFC West’s worst team. The Raiders have to make hay a mile up, a chore made easier with an early-season game. They avoid snow this year. 

Prediction: W.

WEEK 3
Sunday, Sept. 23, at Miami, 10:00 a.m.

The Raiders beat the Dolphins in Florida last year. It’s hard to say Miami’s much better than they were a year ago. This road win’s attainable, even in the first of four morning kickoffs.

Prediction: W.

WEEK 4
Sunday, Sept. 30, vs. Cleveland, 1:05 p.m.

The Browns should be better, but that remains a game you’ve got to win. Hue Jackson’s return to Oakland adds intrigue to these proceedings.

Prediction: W.

WEEK 5
Sunday, Oct. 7, at L.A. Chargers, 1:05 p.m.

The Raiders will have a huge home-field advantage in Carson, as they do each time they play the Chargers in Southern California. That should help against a formidable opponent that has had trouble staying healthy in recent years.

Prediction: L.

WEEK 6
Sunday, Oct. 14, vs. Seattle (at London’s Tottenham Stadium), 10:00 a.m.
The Raiders won’t make their combine their London trip with an East Coast game to make things easier from a travel perspective. Gruden doesn’t want to be away from home that long. How the Raiders handle a long flight to the United Kingdom will go a long way in determining a victor.

Prediction: W.

WEEK 7
BYE

WEEK 8
Sunday, Oct. 28, vs. Indianapolis, 1:05 p.m.

The Colts still stink, even if Andrew Luck is back healthy and throwing for this one. These are games (especially at home) the Raiders have to win.

Prediction: W.

WEEK 9
Thursday, Nov. 1, at 49ers, 5:20 p.m.
A Thursday night game offers plenty of time to get primed in the parking lot. It also guarantees a traffic mess heading into Levi’s Stadium. What could possibly go wrong? This should be a good matchup on the field, with two young quarterbacks leading the charge.

Prediction: L.

WEEK 10
Sunday, Nov. 11, vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 1:05 p.m.

The Raiders have lost two of their last three home games to the Chargers. They have to handle business at home, even against a talented squad led by Philip Rivers and Joey Bosa.

Prediction: W.

WEEK 11
Sunday, Nov. 18, at Arizona, 1:05 p.m.

The Cardinals are mired in a rebuilding mode, well behind the Raiders at this stage.

Prediction: W.

WEEK 12
Sunday, Nov. 25, at Baltimore, 10:00 a.m.

Michael Crabtree will be supremely motivated for this one, after the Raiders essentially exchanged him for Jordy Nelson. He’s pretty dangerous in those situations.

Prediction: L.

WEEK 13
Sunday, Dec. 2, vs. Kansas City, 1:05 p.m.

The Chiefs will be a great litmus test, to see if the Raiders can handle big-play threats better than they have in recent seasons.

Prediction: L.

WEEK 14
Sunday, Dec. 9, vs. Pittsburgh, 5:20 p.m.

The Raiders defense better be ready to go against Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and the Steelers scoring machine in the Oakland Coliseum slate’s best matchup. To make matters better, this one's in primetime, on Sunday night. 

Prediction: L.

WEEK 15
Sunday, Dec. 16, at Cincinnati, 10:00 a.m.

Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will go up against the team he helped run recently. Guenther should be an expert on stopping Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense. That will help the Raiders here. 

Prediction: W.

WEEK 16
Monday, Dec. 24, vs. Denver, 5:15 p.m.

Marquette King’s coming back to Oakland. He’s looking forward to this one. So is Bruce Irvin. All this plays out on Monday Night Football, the Raiders' fourth primetime game and third at Oakland Coliseum. 

Prediction: W.

WEEK 17
Sunday, Dec. 30,at Kansas City, 10:00 a.m.

Arrowhead Stadium has been a house of horrors for the Raiders in recent seasons. Jack Del Rio could never figure how to play well there. Can Jon Gruden buck that trend?

Prediction: L.