What's standing in the way of Raiders' quest for Jon Gruden reunion

What's standing in the way of Raiders' quest for Jon Gruden reunion

The Raiders are officially in the midst of a coaching search.

Well, sort of. The technical term both applies and doesn’t, considering they need a new head coach after firing Jack Del Rio Sunday yet have already locked in on their guy.

Jon Gruden is expected to become the next head coach, though the Raiders weren’t thrilled that became common knowledge before the regular-season finale. Owner Mark Davis captained the ship and the circle was kept tight – even trusted confidant and general manager Reggie McKenzie was kept in the dark -- but obviously expanded as a Gruden-Raiders reunion moved farther down the road.

ESPN broke news about Gruden, an ESPN employee, being tempted by a blockbuster offer to coach the team he ran from 1998-2001. Al Davis traded him to Tampa Bay, and he led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory over the Raiders.

It’s become clear that Raiders owner Mark Davis has a plan to lock Gruden down. That plan, it seems, is going to work.

There are a few hurdles to clear before that happens.

The Raiders have to interview at least one minority candidate to satisfy the Rooney Rule. They’d like to interview a few more options as well, though it might be tough getting good candidates through the door with Gruden as the real target.

Gruden is also scheduled to call Saturday’s AFC playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans for ESPN, and will reportedly honor that commitment.

That’ll likely push a formal announcement into next week. 

The Raiders took care of one piece of business on Monday, a source said, telling Del Rio’s assistants they can start looking for other jobs and get out of their contract should they find one.

Gruden has reached out to possible assistants in recent weeks, with reports streaming in about possible additions to the staff.

Gruden will obviously construct his own coaching staff, but personnel people could be added to McKenzie’s department. McKenzie’s influence will be dulled once Gruden’s on board. It’s uncertain whether Gruden will have complete control over personnel decisions, but he’ll have significant say and influence at the least, maybe more that McKenzie. We’ll have to wait and see on that front.

The Raiders said in a statement announcing Del Rio’s departure they won’t have further comment until an announcement is made.

Raiders to sign former 49ers defensive lineman


Raiders to sign former 49ers defensive lineman

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden wanted veterans to help turn his defense around. He added a linebacker and defensive backs aplenty. Then, on Friday night, he gave the front some help.

Former 49ers defensive lineman Tank Carradine will sign with the Raiders, the 28-year old announced on his Instagram page. 

The Sacramento Bee first reported the news. 

He visited the Raiders on Thursday and was in Seattle earlier Friday, but will sign with the Silver and Black.

Carradine could help their transition to a more traditional 4-3 alignment, able to play end in the base defense. He has proven himself as a solid run defender, but believes he can be an effective pass rusher if given the opportunity.

Carradine didn’t get many pass-rushing chances with the 49ers, who generally removed him on passing downs. He has 5.5 sacks in four professional seasons. He played 37.9 percent of 49ers defensive snaps during eight games with the 49ers last season. He missed the same amount on short-term injured reserve with an ankle injury.

At 6-foot-4, 270 pounds, he has the size to be a 4-3 base end. He’ll likely have to battle Mario Edwards Jr. for snaps opposite Khalil Mack, though Bruce Irvin will take that spot in sub packages.

Carradine will be the 10th free-agent signing expected to make the roster, which means the roster turnover this summer should be significant. 

Here was his Instagram post from Friday night: 

Proud to become an Oakland Raider! Let's go #raiders#nation

A post shared by Cornellius Smith (@tank.carradine) on

Adding Rashaan Melvin the key move to Raiders' revamped secondary


Adding Rashaan Melvin the key move to Raiders' revamped secondary

The Raiders started this offseason looking to revamp their secondary around their last two first-round picks. Gareon Conley would start at one cornerback spot. Karl Joseph was penned at strong safety.

Every other job, however, was wide open and likely filled from the outside.

Safety Marcus Gilchrist came aboard Thursday, but one premium spot remained open opposite Conley. Veteran cornerback Rashaan Melvin took it Friday afternoon, agreeing on terms of a one-year $6.5 million contract.

NFL Network broke the news of a bargain compared to other cornerback free-agent deals. They aren’t attached to him long term, and Melvin can sign a bigger deal if he plays well in 2018.

The Raiders declared interest in the former Indianapolis cornerback early this week and worked toward an agreement sealed during a Friday morning visit at the team’s Alameda practice facility.

The 28-year old’s fresh off a career year, allowing just 29 receptions for 328 yards and two touchdowns on 55 targets in 2017. He had three interceptions and 13 passes defensed. Quarterbacks had a paltry 60.3 passer rating against him.

Melvin stands 6-foot-2, 196 pounds and has the athleticism to excel in Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s system.

Melvin bounced around before settling with the Colts, struggling to find footing in Tampa Bay, Baltimore New England and two offseason programs in Miami. He found a home in Indianapolis, and became a regular starter in 2016. His breakout 2017 season was cut short by a hand injury that kept him out the last five games.

Melvin projects to start right away. The Raiders will be thrilled if he stays healthy and retains recent form. Melvin has solid ball skills, regularly forces incompletions and thrived in tough assignments that came with being the Colts’ top cornerback.

Gilchrist’s addition, Melvin’s deal and the Friday addition of Shareece Wright fills a cupboard in the defensive backfield laid bare by design.

The Raiders cut David Amerson and now-jailed Sean Smith this offseason. TJ Carrie took a big deal in Cleveland. Reggie Nelson’s allowed to walk as a free agent.

The Raiders added three free agents to the group thus far, and could well draft another defensive back next month.

They’ll have safety Obi Melifonwu in reserve – he’ll have to earn a role after missing most of 2017 with injury – and cornerbacks Antonio Hamilton and Dexter McDonald vying for spots.

Melvin will be plenty motivated to have a big year and cash in at age 29, for what might be his last shot at a big payday.