Report: Former Packers WR to visit Raiders in free agency


Report: Former Packers WR to visit Raiders in free agency

Jordy Nelson has played his entire career in one spot. The beloved Green Bay receiver will have to carry on with another, after the Packers released him Tuesday to clear salary cap space.

The Raiders will have a chance to get him first. He’ll visit the team’s Alameda complex on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, and meet up with some old friends.

Raiders receivers coach Edgar Bennett is certainly an attraction. He was Nelson’s receivers coach in Green By from 2011-14 and his offensive coordinator – head coach Mike McCarthy called the plays – from 2015-17.

He was a second-team All-Pro in 2014, working with Bennett. He was also named the NFL’s comeback player of the year in 2016 with 1,257 yards and an NFL best 14 touchdowns, a year after a torn ACL took him out a full season.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie was in the Packers personnel department, though he was focused on pro scouting, when Nelson became Green Bay’s second-round pick in 2008.

There are several teams preliminarily interested in Nelson, though the Raiders certainly hope to have him signed before leaving Alameda.

It’s uncertain, at this stage, what Nelson’s looking for financially. He made a $5.5 million base salary last year.

Nelson is 33 years old, coming off his worst season in some time. He had 53 catches for 482 yards, six touchdowns on 84 targets, and a career-worst 9.1 yards per reception. He had just 0.95 yards per route run, according to Pro Football Focus. That downtick could be attributed, at least in part, to quarterback Aaron Rodgers missing significant time with a broken collar bone. 

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is an attraction in his own right, with strong football knowledge and a powerful arm. 

The Raiders could use some help everywhere but especially in the slot, where Nelson played 29 percent of the time last year. He was the NFL’s most efficient slot receiver in 2016, and could find a role there in the Raiders offense that might offset any loss in raw speed.

The Raiders hope to sign Nelson as soon as possible. They could add him to a receiver corps that includes Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree -- that's the ideal scenario -- or, maybe more likely, they could exchange Crabtree for Nelson.

Crabtree is set to make a $7.5 million base salary that is not guaranteed, and could be easily cut despite McKenzie saying he’s in their plans for 2018. The Raiders wanted him to take a pay cut, though he might find a solid market considering how much receivers are getting paid in free agency.

Nelson is known as an excellent leader and locker-room presence, as Aaron Rodgers suggests in a farewell to Nelson on social media.

Reports: Marshawn Lynch to remain with Raiders in 2018


Reports: Marshawn Lynch to remain with Raiders in 2018

The Raiders signed veteran running back Doug Martin on Thursday, prompting many to believe the move meant the end of Marshawn Lynch's time in Oakland.

But as it has been expected, Martin is just another piece to go along with Lynch in the Raiders' backfield. According to multiple national reports, Lynch will remain in Silver and Black this upcoming season. 

The news will become official when the Raiders pay Lynch his $1 million roster bonus on Sunday. 

“One of the reasons I’m excited to be with the Raiders is to join forces with Lynch. We’ll see what happens," Jon Gruden told Insider Scott Bair at the NFL Scouting Combine. “We have to take a look at the entire roster, but I’m counting on him. I’m counting on him being a big part of this football team.”

Lynch, 31, rushed for 891 yards, averaging 4.3 yards per carry, and scored seven touchdowns for the Raiders in 2017. 

New Raiders cornerback supremely confident, 'here to dominate the league'


New Raiders cornerback supremely confident, 'here to dominate the league'

Rashaan Melvin has the supreme confidence of a No. 1 cornerback, with none of the pedigree. Top cover men are often drafted high, paid well or both, with a steady ascent to elite status.

This undrafted talent bounced around the league without job security, trying and often failing to find NFL footing.

Melvin spent time with Tampa Bay, Miami, Baltimore, New England and Miami again before establishing himself in Indianapolis. The Colts gave him a real shot and he took advantage, evolving into the team’s top cornerback. Last year was Melvin’s best, but it didn’t provide a long-term contract despite a bull market for cover men.

Melvin signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Raiders on Friday, the type of prove-it deal that could establish a big payday down this time next year. The 28-year old doesn’t consider that pressure. Melvin knowns another big year's on the way, one that proves he's an elite cornerback

"I’m here to dominate the league," Melvin said Friday in a conference call. "It might be time for some new faces at the cornerback position. That’s my take on that. I’m excited for it.”

Melvin wouldn’t trade his long road for a conventional path, and believes experience both good and bad has prepared him for a pivotal season.

“I’ve been cut four times,” Melvin said. “I’ve been in four different locker rooms, and I was able to gain my teammates’ trust, my coaches’ trust and the organization’s trust as well. My confidence just grows over time. There are not a lot of players that can say they’ve been cut four times and end up in a situation where I’m at today. Like I said, it’s perfect timing. My work ethic, my style of play and the way I approach the game and the way I approach my job, my business, it speaks for itself.”

Melvin’s work ethic is unquestioned. His reputation as a grinder is well documented, especially after establishing himself in Indianapolis. Commitment to a craft has created a player with consistent coverage and ball skills.

Melvin was excellent last year. According to Pro Football Focus, Melvin created an incomplete pass (combining passes defensed and interceptions) on 23.6 percent of his targets.

Passers had a 60.3 passer rating against him in 2017, with just 29 completions for 328 yards on 55 targets. The passer rating was 86.6 in 2016, his only other season as a regular starter.

The Raiders need that type of player on the outside. They’ve had inconsistent cornerback play (that’s being kind) in recent seasons, and are hoping Melvin provides stability at a key position. The Northern Illinois alum has loftier aspirations, individually and as the leader of a young position group.

“The goal is to be the best player I can be, first-team All-Pro,” Melvin said. “I’m going to show my leadership, help these young guys out this year. They have tons of potential to be successful in their own careers. For me coming in here and being the leader and showing that, hey, this is what it takes to be successful in this football league, that’s what I’m willing to do. That’s what I’m willing to bring to the table. On the football field, but outside as well.”

Paying $6.5 million for all that would be a bargain. Melvin’s the key acquisition in a secondary built around 2016 first-round safety Karl Joseph and 2017 first-round cornerback Gareon Conley. This secondary can be solid if those guys can realize potential and Melvin’s a true No. 1 cornerback.

He considers that title appropriate, and is ready to show he’s more that a one-year wonder. The Raiders have great confidence in Melvin, something clear after targeting him early in the free-agent process. Financing’s always a big factor, but Friday’s meeting with head coach Jon Gruden, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and secondary coach Derrick Ansley convinced Melvin that Oakland’s a proper fit.

“I can relate to these guys,” Melvin said. “They have big plans for me, big plans for the organization. I was born to be a part of something special; that’s happening in Oakland. It was a good thing. We were able to get everything done, a deal done. I’m just excited to be here and I’m excited to see what the future holds for us as a team and me as a player.”