Source: Raiders agree to terms on two-year contract with OL Newhouse

Source: Raiders agree to terms on two-year contract with OL Newhouse

Reggie McKenzie and Marshall Newhouse have a history. McKenzie was Green Bay’s director of player personnel when the Packers drafted him in 2010. The versatile offensive lineman played four years in Wisconsin, and has made 56 starts in 86 games over the last seven seasons.

A reunion is in the works. Newhouse agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Raiders, a league source told CSN California on Friday night. 

While Newhouse is the first Raiders free agent signing this offseason, he should be viewed as depth despite Menelik Watson signing a three-year deal with the Denver Broncos.

He certainly has size, standing 6-foot-4, 328 pounds, and he can play inside and out, though he’s primarily an offensive tackle.

Newhouse has spent seasons as a starter and time in reserve. He made six starts last season for the New York Giants as a right tackle and left guard.

The Raiders are set in four spots, though right tackle is up for grabs a bit. Austin Howard is the experienced talent at right tackle, though position coach Mike Tice likes young players Vadal Alexander and Denver Kirkland. Newhouse hasn’t had great reviews as a starter – he was a decent pass blocker earlier in his career -- though he will certainly compete for a starting spot during training camp and the offseason program. Tice also likes super subs who can play several positions, and Newhouse certainly fits that bill.

Newhouse is the team’s first foray into free agency, though he certainly won’t be the last. And he probably won’t make the biggest impact. The Raiders are still focused on signing inside linebackers, including incumbent starter Perry Riley.

Running back is a possibility, and Latavius Murray could return to the club. Other veterans or draft picks could also fill his void. The team needs defensive tackles as well, with some talent left on the market.

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.

Raiders well equipped to 'slam the ball with a beast'


Raiders well equipped to 'slam the ball with a beast'

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden needed specific tools to run his running game. He wanted blocking tight ends and a bruising fullback, relics of a bygone offensive era.

“If Marshawn Lynch is the feature back, I think it’d be nice if we serviced him with a fullback,” Gruden said at the combine. … You need a blocking tight end if you’re going to slam the ball with a beast. So, those are two things that I’m looking for.”

Gruden said he wanted to import some old-school elements to help run with brute force.

Enter free-agent fullback Kyle Smith and tight end Derek Carrier. Welcome back, Lee Smith.

Then, on Sunday, Raiders made another vital move in this old school effort. They cut Marshawn Lynch a $1 million check.

The Oakland native’s roster bonus came due and the Raiders had no problem paying it, the clearest sign Lynch will be the Raiders feature back in 2018.

He’ll have a great chance to thrive in that role. The Raiders have a hulking, expensive offensive line (that still needs a right tackle). They have new ancillary blocking elements, and the centerpiece remains in place.

That last part was expected in recent weeks. The coaching staff, offensive line coach Tom Cable especially, wanted Lynch back. NFL Network confirmed those facts, stating Lynch will be around in 2018.

That was the case, even with Doug Martin’s addition. The former Tampa Bay back is expected to be a backup bruiser, someone who might put DeAndre Washington or (less likely) Jalen Richard’s job in jeopardy.

The Raiders can cut Lynch without a cap hit. Lynch is scheduled to make $6 million in salary and bonuses, with another $2 million available in incentives. The Raiders should hope to pay those; it would mean Lynch is running well.

The Raiders have given him a great opportunity to do so. They have solid blocking and a coach in Cable who helped him succeed during dominant days in Seattle.

Lynch proved he’s still got it in 2017’s second half, with 70 percent of his 891 rushing yards in the final eight games. He struggled early on, and upset some fans by helping the opposition during a scuffle with Kansas City. That mitigated a PR bump the Raiders looked for when signing a popular Oakland native just months after committing to Las Vegas long-term.

Jack Del Rio and staff grew tired of what they perceived as leeway given to Lynch unavailable to others, and probably wouldn’t have kept him on if still gainfully employed.

Gruden seems committed to Lynch this season, though nothing is ever 100 percent with an enigmatic rusher who doesn’t make private thoughts public.

His elusive, rough-and-tumble rushing style fits well with what Gruden wants, though he demands commitment to the team and sport. Sports Illustrated relayed a story of Gruden saying he needed a “full-time Lynch.”

If he gets that, the Raiders run game should thrive.