Daryl Worley’s shoulder popped out of its socket on a cold December day in Cincinnati, a painful predicament that had to be remedied right away. Getting it back in was imperative, but the Raiders cornerback wasn’t doing so just to feel better on the bench.
He wanted to get back in the fray. That impulse was strong despite a season already down the drain and zero financial security in the 2019.
“You have a drive as competitor that has been there since you were a kid,” Worley said on this week’s Raiders Insider Podcast. “Even though the season may not have been going as we would’ve hoped, I feel like it gets to a point where you grind for six months with guys who have become your brothers. You want to take care of yourself, but you also want to be out there with them.”
It’s that drive that drew head coach Jon Gruden to him last spring. He did some homework on a guy way too talented to be unemployed, someone mired in a rough patch.
“I can still see Worley on the sideline trying to knock his shoulder back into place and keep playing,” head coach Jon Gruden said. “He’s a tough guy. He has also had some adversity in his career, but I got a lot of respect for the way a man can get up off the ground and dust himself off given another opportunity.”
The Raiders provided a soft landing after a rough go in his native Philadelphia. The Eagles traded for him last offseason, but a run-in with the law while reportedly intoxicated and resisting arrest put him on the street.
Gruden scooped him up knowing a suspension was on its way, with unwavering support in public and private. Worley was quickly inserted into the lineup upon return, where he started nine games until that shoulder issue sidelined him in Cincinnati.
It required surgery heading into restricted free agency, a less-than-ideal scenario that could prompt the Raiders to offer a lower contract tender and prevent other teams from bidding for his services. The Raiders essentially locked him down with a second-round tender offer worth $3.095 million, meaning a team that signed him to an offer sheet the Raiders refused to match would’ve had to cough up a second-round pick. That’s really something, considering Worley was a third-round pick and the Raiders could’ve saved some coin by offering an original round tender that still would’ve been a preventive measure.
Worley appreciates the extra million bucks, but the respect factor might’ve meant more.
“When you’re getting a nudge like that, it’s both business and personal,” Worley said. “It shows the comfort they have in me, and a certain level of respect.
“I’m thankful and appreciative of everything they’ve done for me. I try to pay it back every day, with the type of professional I am and the type of player they expect.”
This is an important year for him to find top form, which is possible after recovering fully from shoulder surgery. While Worley feels a certain loyalty towards Gruden, he isn’t blind to the fact the Raiders drafted cornerbacks Trayvon Mullen and Isaiah Johnson in the first four rounds. Gareon Conley’s a long-term solution on one side, with plenty of present and future competition at his current spot.
The Raiders were nice about the RFA tender but didn’t extend a long-term deal, so Worley will enter 2019 with unrestricted free agency’s possible riches (and career transition) on the immediate horizon.
“As a human, you know the future is coming,” Worley said. “You think about it, but I just always feel that taking care of each day, everything else will handle itself.”
Worley likes playing in Silver and Black, across from Conley. They have become friends since Worley signed up, and they lived together during this offseason program. Worley has high hopes for them as a shutdown pairing knowing he must do his part, as he enters his prime right now at age 24. Matching that level with Conley’s steady and top-end talent could create a real impact.
“I feel that that’s something we expect of ourselves and something we expect,” Worley said. “It’s a situation where we’re in our second year in the system and we shouldn’t just make some plays. We should also be the thing that sparks the defense and our team and changes games.”