Scott Bair

Le'Veon Bell to Raiders? Oddsmakers like Jon Gruden and Co.'s chances

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USATSI

Le'Veon Bell to Raiders? Oddsmakers like Jon Gruden and Co.'s chances

Le’Veon Bell isn’t returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers this year. The running back didn't sign the franchise tag contract tender provided this offseason, and extending his contract holdout beyond Tuesday afternoon means he'll become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

According to an online sportsbook, the odds are great that he could become a Raider at that point.

The sports gambling website OddsShark, which takes its information from betonline.ag, an offshore sports gambling site that also houses an online casino, believes the Raiders have high odds of landing Bell this offseason. The Silver and Black have +500 odds to land Bell, according to the gambling website, second only to the New York Jets. The Jets have +300 odds to sign Bell this offseason.

This information isn't based on a report from any other publication covering the NFL, and there is no insight reported from any source about where Bell might sign.

Despite calls to betonline.ag by NBC Sports Bay Area, it remains uncertain how these odds were obtained.

The concept of Bell to the Raiders or the Jets was popularized Tuesday by the Twitter account @br_betting, which promoted odds of the Raiders being second in line to land the talented running back, who has missed the entire 2018 season while holding out for a long-term contract despite being given a franchise tag contract tender worth $14.544 million.

According to NFL rules, Bell had to report to the Steelers by Tuesday afternoon and sign the tag, or sit out the entire season. He chose to do the latter, but Bell will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Bell easily is one of the best professional running backs, with the tools to be considered a complete package. The Raiders are expected to have $83 million in salary-cap space entering that season, though that total will decrease after they sign players to reserves-futures contracts and earmark more money for the NFL draft pool.

[RELATED: Raiders in the driver's seat for No. 1 overall draft pick]

The Raiders chose to trade Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper over paying them in the near future, but they have plenty of money to spend should they try to go after a big-ticket player such as Bell.

It’s uncertain at this time whether the Raiders have any interest in Bell. Contacting him or his agent at this point, according to NFL rules, would be considered tampering.

Bell could be a perfect fit for Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s offensive scheme, though, considering his ability to catch passes out of the backfield and running with patience behind an offensive line.

Bell has gained at least 1,200 rushing yards in three of the last four seasons, and he has averaged 4.3 yards per carry over his six-year career. He had 1,291 rushing yards, 655 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns in 2017.

2019 NFL Draft: Raiders in driver's seat to secure No. 1 overall pick

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AP

2019 NFL Draft: Raiders in driver's seat to secure No. 1 overall pick

Well, the Raiders did their job.

They stunk yet again Sunday, ensuring they didn’t lose the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NFL draft. The 49ers did them a solid Monday night, allowing the New York Giants to hit two wins and keep the Silver and Black in firm possession of the top draft pick position.

Trading Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper netted two more first-round picks, putting the Raiders in prime position to rebuild an ailing roster. Here’s where their three first-round picks stand after 10 weeks of NFL action:

No. 1 overall (Last week: No. 1)
How it was earned: 
The Silver and Black are in the driver’s seat here, especially after the Giants beat the 49ers and left them as the NFL’s only one-win team. The 49ers still are hot on the Raiders’ trail for the top pick, but the Silver and Black can clinch if they just never, ever win a game this season. It might be an exercise in futility, but it would guarantee Jon Gruden gets the guy he really, really wants.

No. 14 overall (Last week: No. 11)
How it was earned: 
This pick took a dip due to the Cowboys showing some resilience. Beating the Eagles on Sunday night proves that Dallas still is in it and could move further down the draft order. The Raiders would hate that after trading Cooper to the Cowboys for their first-round pick. That stock dipped a bit, and Dallas losing would drive it back up.

No. 24 overall (Last week: No. 22)
How it was earned: 
This selection gets worse and worse with the Bears fighting not only for the NFC North title but for a home game in the NFC playoffs. The Raiders traded Mack for the Bears’ top pick in this draft, among other things, and aren’t getting much in return in 2019. Mack had two sacks Sunday to help drive this draft pick down, something the Raiders should’ve considered when they allowed his talent to help dictate how good the 2018 Bears would be.

How Kolton Miller 'gaining strength' in injury-riddled rookie season

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USATSI

How Kolton Miller 'gaining strength' in injury-riddled rookie season

Kolton Miller is mired in a rough patch.

It’s not due to lack of talent or ability, size or natural strength. Plain and simple: The Raiders' rookie left tackle is banged up pretty good. He has a knee injury that can’t get right and a troublesome elbow that also requires a brace.

That makes life hard. The first-round draft pick from UCLA is tough and not a complainer, battling through injuries despite knowing full well he’s better when healthy.

[RELATED: Miller has room to grow]

Miller also is the Raiders’ best option at left tackle even when he's feeling suboptimal, so he grinds through the week to perform the best he can every Sunday.

“My goal is to have a good game even when I’m not feeling my best,” Miller said last week, before Sunday’s loss to the L.A. Chargers. “Most of the time, you’re not going to be 100 percent healthy. You have to work your way through it.”

Miller is grinding through the season, while compiling stats he’d rather not see on his ledger.

Miller allowed a sack, two quarterback hits and five other pressures in the 20-6 loss to the Chargers, continuing a poor run of pressures allowed that unsurprisingly coincides with his knee issues.

He has allowed 39 total pressures this season, according to analytics site Pro Football Focus, including 10 sacks and four quarterback hits. The sack total is the NFL’s highest by three. He gave up six sacks when his knee was at its worst, during games at the Chargers and against the Seahawks in London.

Miller was awesome to start the season, way back when he was healthy. That's why most evaluators believe he'll be a standout pro. Injuries, however, have sapped his effectiveness. 

Miller allowed five total pressures in 117 pass-block snaps over the season’s first three games, per PFF, before he suffered a serious MCL sprain in his right knee. That’s his anchor leg, and losing strength there makes Miller susceptible to bull rushes.

The Raiders keep pushing Miller out there -- losing veteran tackle Donald Penn to IR was a real blow -- believing he can emerge from this storm a stronger player.

“I think what you’re dealing with (in) Miller is one of the most mentally tough kids that you will find,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “I think he’s gaining strength from playing. I think he’s really learning a lot about this business the hard way. Not only losing, not only playing hurt, playing from behind a lot, but learning how to play well against great rushers when you’re not at your best."

“That’s really the definition of a lot of these great pro football players. A lot of these guys don’t feel good after Week 2 or 3. For that young man to go out there and give us all that he’s given us under these circumstances is really exciting.”