Report: Former Raiders OC in line for same position on Gruden's staff


Report: Former Raiders OC in line for same position on Gruden's staff

The Raiders will have a brand new coaching staff soon enough. A familiar face will reportedly be in the ranks.

Former Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson could return to that post, the Sporting News reported on Thursday evening. The current Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach would be allowed out of his contract to team up with old friends.

He would re-team with Jon Gruden, assuming he’s hired, as expected, as the Raiders next head coach. Olson was Tampa Bay’s quarterbacks coach under Gruden in 2008, and eventually became the Buccaneers offensive coordinator through 2011.

Olson spent a season in Jacksonville before becoming Raiders offensive coordinator from 2013-14, which included Carr’s rookie season.

Carr learned a ton from Olson during a trying 3-13 season, when the young signal caller didn’t have many weapons around him.

Olson was let go with interim head coach Tony Sparano and most of that coaching staff. He went back to Jacksonville, and has been credited for helping Rams head coach Sean McVay kickstart Jared Goff’s career.

Don't forget that, if Gruden is hired, he's expected to call offensive plays. 

In other Gruden coaching staff news, NFL Network reports former Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown is a candidate for that same position in Oakland.

Former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon also remains publicly noncommittal about reports that he would be the new Raiders quarterbacks coach. He told 95.7 The Game on Wednesday that he would consider it only after Gruden has been officially announced as Raiders head coach.

“At that point I think it'd be an appropriate time,” Gannon said, “if in fact he has interest in me being a part of it, to sit down and have a conversation."

Why Raiders players should pay close attention to NFL Draft this year

Why Raiders players should pay close attention to NFL Draft this year

ALAMEDA – Raiders players should keep a close eye on who gets drafted next week. Pros typically follow the NFL’s amateur selection to see where their team gets help, or whether competition’s coming to their position group.

Some Raiders, however, might see their roster spot given away.

The Raiders have 76 guys on the roster already, a high sum created by a hyperactive free-agent signing stretch. They have 11 draft picks coming. If each one gets used, that leaves three open spots on the 90-man offseason roster.

GM Reggie McKenzie will sign more undrafted free agents than that. The Raiders have a penchant for finding diamonds in the rough, and will target several after the draft concludes.

“What we’re going to do is we will evaluate all of those free agents after the draft and if we feel like we can upgrade, we will,” McKenzie said Friday in his annual, required pre-draft press conference. “So, that’s not going to hinder us from trying to sign some players. We’re just going to have to compare, you know, to what we have. We’re going to bring in the best 90. We only have X amount of spots. We may have to create some.”

That last line means some guys on the Raiders roster won’t stay long. They won’t get a chance to impress Jon Gruden’s coaching staff over an offseason program. They’ll get two weeks of offseason workouts and next week’s voluntary minicamp. That’s about it.

It’s fair to say fringe players signed before Gruden came aboard should be worried, considering the influence Gruden has on the roster. That includes players last year’s practice squad and maybe some recent draft picks who haven’t established themselves yet.

There are plenty on reserve/futures contracts who can be filtered out to create the roster space required to add preferred members of this year’s amateur class.

A well-known name may be among them, considering the Raiders must free some cap space to sign their rookie class. Per the NFLPA, the Raiders have $1.8 million in cap space. Their rookie pool is $9.454 million. The space required to sign the class isn’t found with simple subtraction – we won’t bore you with the details – but the Raiders will have to create a little bit of space to get everybody signed under the cap. Such maneuvering could include cuts or restructures or 2018 space created by a contract extension given to a certain elite edge rusher. The Raiders have options in that regard.

Roster space, however, is a bit more cut and dry. Only 90 spots exist. They’ll have to shuffle folks out to bring others in, and it’s going to happen soon.

Reggie McKenzie unconcerned with Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper contract situations


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.”