Raiders

Raiders agree to one-year contract with offensive guard Jonathan Cooper

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Raiders agree to one-year contract with offensive guard Jonathan Cooper

With training camp right around the corner, the Raiders made a move to bolster their offensive line depth.

On Monday, the Raiders agreed to a contract with guard Jonathan Cooper, the club announced.

Cooper, a 2013 first-round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2013, gives the Raiders another interior lineman to fill in for Richie Incognito who is suspended for the first two games of the season. Denzelle Good also will see time at the left guard spot.

After being drafted by the Cardinals, Cooper has bounced around the league, spending time with the San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns and Washington. 

[RELATED: Raiders' 2019 success will be determined by three players]

At 6-foot-2, 308 pounds, the 29-year-old should be able to fill in for Incognito and still has the ability to be a quality offensive lineman if he is able to stay healthy.

NFL preview 2019: Raiders' three most important players for next season

NFL preview 2019: Raiders' three most important players for next season

There are a few different paths the 2019 Raiders can take. 

They can travel a similar road to 2018, with an offense that looks like it hasn't left 1999 and a defense that's incapable of getting off the field. That one's no fun and will make for a miserable final year in Oakland.

Door No. 2 has the Raiders' offense improving drastically in 2019, with the additions of Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow and Josh Jacobs expected to give quarterback Derek Carr the necessary weapons to torture opposing defenses. Door No. 2 also sees the defense continue to struggle as the young Raiders experience growing pains and limp to a mediocre finish, somewhere around 7-9.

But let's talk about Door No. 3. After all, the great thing about sports is that hope always springs eternal.

Do the Raiders have the talent on both sides of the ball to go from a 4-12 campaign to a potential playoff berth? Possibly.

But if the Silver and Black are to have a successful 2019, they will need three players in particular to have big seasons to lead them back to the postseason.

Derek Carr, QB

This one is a no-brainer.

It's Year 2 in Jon Gruden's system and the Fresno State product now has a number of offensive weapons at his disposal. The Raiders attempted to solidify the offensive line by signing Trent Brown, picked up Brown and Williams to be weapons on the outside, and drafted Jacobs to give them a more dynamic threat out of the backfield.

Carr is confident in his grasp of the playbook after a full season and appears to have already developed good chemistry with Brown and Williams.

With the weapons in place and the system further ingrained, the Raiders need Carr to get back to his 2016 MVP-level form in order to successfully navigate a brutal schedule. If he can do that, the Raiders could be a dangerous team in 2019.

Clelin Ferrell, DE

It might not be fair to put this much pressure on the rookie, but the Raiders absolutely need him to be productive this season. Forget productive, Ferrell must have an instant impact if the Raiders are to be successful.

Many people saw the drafting of Ferrell as a reach, especially for a team that is in desperate need of pass rushers who can make an immediate impact. Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock ignored the knocks on Ferrell and drafted the Clemson product with the No. 4 overall pick in April.

Now, Ferrell must reward their faith by becoming a three-down edge rusher who can impact the game starting Week 1.

The Raiders' defense was atrocious at pressuring the quarterback in 2018, registering an NFL-worst 13 total sacks, while allowing opposing teams to score 29.2 points per game (also a league-worst).

Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is building a defense and Ferrell has to be a key part of that unit right away for the Raiders to turn their fortunes around.

[RELATED: Biggest question for each AFC West team]

Lamarcus Joyner, CB/S

Did I mention the defense was horrific last year? OK, good.

Enter: Lamarcus Joyner.

The Raiders signed the veteran safety at the start of the new league year. Joyner will move around in the back end of Oakland's defense, but he should spend a lot of time at slot corner, with Karl Joseph and rookie Johnathan Abram getting the bulk of the time at safety in the base defense.

With Gareon Conley and Daryl Worley expected to start at the outside corner positions, Joyner's versatility and leadership in the secondary will be paramount for Guenther's unit.

Joyner has been mentoring Abram early on in the offseason program, and his leadership will go along way to helping the Mississippi State product feel comfortable in the starting role, which in turn can allow Joyner to settle into the slot corner position that would most benefit the Raiders' defense.

Carr. Ferrell. Joyner. As they go, so do the 2019 Raiders.

Madden 20 ratings: Which Raiders players are overrated, underrated

Madden 20 ratings: Which Raiders players are overrated, underrated

The Oakland Raiders were pretty awful in 2018, and the folks over at EA Sports apparently weren't asleep at the wheel.

The video game conglomerate recently released the rankings for every player in "Madden NFL 20," and the Raiders don't look great.

Three of the Raiders' five highest-rated players are new additions, with wide receiver Antonio Brown checking in at 98 overall as Oakland's highest-rated player. Center Rodney Hudson (93), safety Lamarcus Joyner (85), wide receiver Tyrell Williams (83) and quarterback Derek Carr (80) round out the top five.

As a team, the Raiders netted an overall team rating of 80, tied with the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals.

With that out of the way, let's take a look at which members of the Silver and Black are overrated and which are underrated in the popular game. Why, you might ask? Because it's July. 

Underrated

Antonio Brown, WR (98): No, this isn't a joke. Yes, Brown is a 98 overall and is the second-highest rated receiver in the game behind the Houston Texans' Deandre Hopkins (99). Therein lies the gripe. Brown, for all his locker-room warts in Pittsburgh, has been the best receiver in the game over the last five seasons and hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. He should have been a no-doubt member of the 99 Club along with Hopkins.

Johnathan Abram, Safety (69): While the Mississippi State product received nice rating, a first-round pick of Abram's quality deserved a little higher of a nod. Rookies in the secondary often struggle initially, but Abram has impressed early on in camp, and he likely will earn a starting spot alongside Karl Joseph (78 rating). I expect him to be one of the more impressive rookies this season.

Trent Brown, OT (78): If one of the Raiders' biggest offseason acquisitions only performs at a C-plus level, the Silver and Black will be in trouble. Brown had a decent year with the New England Patriots last season, but really came on in the playoffs, ranking second among the 24 offensive tackles who played at least 50 snaps by grabbing a 79.9 grade, per Pro Football Focus. If Brown performs at that level with the Raiders, his rating should improve as the updates trickle out.

Properly Rated

Derek Carr, QB (80): Carr might end up having a better year than his initial rating suggests, but based on his performance last season this seems like a fair place to put the Raiders' signal-caller. If there is a gripe, though, it's with some of the quarterbacks who are ranked ahead of or alongside him. Andy Dalton (80), Dak Prescott (81), Kirk Cousins (81) and Jared Goff (83) all are rated the same or higher than Carr. While Goff had a great 2018, it's hard to say he's a better overall quarterback than Carr, and with the offensive weapons the Raiders brought in during the offseason, Carr should enjoy a much better statistical season than he did a year ago.

Clelin Ferrell, DE (74): The No. 4 overall pick gets the "reach" rating, accumulating a ranking much lower than normally associated with his draft position. The Clemson product had a productive college career, but he'll have to prove he's an every-down edge rusher in order to rise to meet the rest of the rookie class edge rushers (Josh Allen (77), Nick Bosa (78) and Ed Oliver (79)).

[RELATED: Biggest question facing each AFC West team]

Overrated

Doug Martin, RB (78): After rushing for just 723 yards and four scores last season for the Raiders, this is way too high for a running back who is transitioning from muscle hamster to mentor in the twilight of his career. Expect rookie running back Josh Jacobs (74) to get the lion's share of the carries this season while Martin helps him adjust to life in the NFL. Mentor rating: 99. Actual running back rating: somewhere in the low 70s.

Richie Incognito, LG (76): He didn't play last season and will miss the first two games. He probably deserves to be rated in the low 70s until he proves he still can be a valuable NFL offensive lineman.