Woodson critical of Sean Smith: 'You've got to be a lock-down corner'


Woodson critical of Sean Smith: 'You've got to be a lock-down corner'

Charles Woodson didn’t stay unemployed for long. The Raiders safety retired after the 2015 season, and quickly become a prominent ESPN analyst.

Just because the future Hall of Famer now focuses on the NFL as a whole doesn’t mean he’s lost track of his former team. He has great friends on that roster, and was proud of their return to prominence last year.

While he acknowledged the Raiders’ success, he also identified some flaws. He was particularly critical of cornerback Sean Smith, who signed a four-year, $38.5 million contract last offseason to be the team’s top cornerback.

"That didn’t go as well as anybody would have hoped," Woodson told Alex Marvez and Kirk Morrison on SiriusXM NFL Radio, via the Sporting News. “When it comes to situational football, when you bring in a guy like that, you’ve got to be able to get off the field (defensively).

"If you’re brought in to be a lock-down corner, you’ve got to be a lock-down corner. You’ve got to hold guys to short gains, tackle them when they catch the ball, don’t let guys get through the teeth of the defense."

Smith struggled at times, especially early on, but played well as the season progressed. He dealt with a shoulder issue that required offseason surgery as well, but Woodson doesn’t believe he was the true shutdown corner his paycheck demanded.

It wasn’t all Smith’s fault. The Raiders played well to start and end games, had several key takeaways and were decent on third down, but made too many costly mistakes.

"There were way too many big plays defensively,” Woodson said. “That goes hand-in-hand with the rush and the back end as well. Those guys have to eliminate big plays for them to be a dominant team."

Raiders sign linebacker with Paul Guenther connection


Raiders sign linebacker with Paul Guenther connection

The Raiders entered this free agency period needing defensive help throughout the depth chart. They signed presumptive starters earlier in this veteran acquisition process, but didn’t stop there.

The Silver and Black have added depth this week especially, signing a key cog in linebacker Emmanuel Lamur on Wednesday afternoon.

Lamur spent the last two years in Minnesota and the previous four in Cincinnati with new Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Guenther was his position coach from 2012-13 and his DC from 2014-15. He also knows Raiders linebackers coach David Lippincott from the Bengals days

Lamur has primarily been a reserve, but Guenther gave him an opportunity to start in 2014. He had 59 tackles and two interceptions in 13 starts that year as a strongside linebacker.

The Raiders have options at that spot, but no firm starter at this stage if Bruce Irvin plays defensive end full time.

Lamur hasn’t played much defense the last two years, but is known as a quality special teams contributor. The Raiders have signed several of those players in an attempt to improve coverage and returns.

All told, the Raiders have signed 14 unrestricted free agents with a shot to make the 53-man roster since last week began. The roster will turnover significantly in Jon Gruden’s return to the Raiders, and it’s possible he signs more players in coming days.

The Raiders are still looking for upgrades at receiver, and might add another bargain defensive lineman.

Report: Ndamukong Suh calls off meeting with Raiders


Report: Ndamukong Suh calls off meeting with Raiders

Ndamukong Suh won’t meet with the Raiders, after all. The star defensive tackle cut Alameda out of his free-agent tour, according to NFL Network, choosing instead to head home after stops in New Orleans, Tennessee and the L.A. Rams.

NFLN reports that Suh had dinner with Rams coach Sean McVay on Tuesday night, and was due in Oakland the following day. The Rams made a solid impression

Suh is reportedly mulling options from all three aforementioned playoff teams, all of which have more working salary-cap space and other stalwarts along the defensive line.

That’s surely a disappointment for the Raiders, who have had interest in Suh dating back to his last free-agent experience in 2015. The Silver and Black couldn’t afford him then. It seems unlikely they can afford him now, with precious little salary-cap space remaining after being active in free agency’s second wave.

The Raiders also hope to lock Khalil Mack up long-term with a massive extension this offseason.

It’s uncertain at this stage whether player or team cancelled the meeting, or exactly why it was called off. The Raiders could still sign a veteran defensive tackle, and/or acquire one early in the NFL Draft.