Daryl Worley thankful for Raiders after offseason ‘trials and tribulations’

Daryl Worley thankful for Raiders after offseason ‘trials and tribulations’

Cornerback Daryl Worley was allowed to participate in meetings and work out at the Raiders during his four-game suspension. That’s relatively new, following a rule change by the NFL.

Worley was grateful for that, and believes it helped prepare him for a return to game action against the L.A. Chargers.

Sunday were another story. The 23-year old would get up before a game day wake-up call, even when the Raiders were on the East Coast. The anticipation was too great to sleep, the frustration from being unable to help his struggling team was to prevalent to focus on anything else.

He sat around the house with his fiancé and young son, forced to watch games on television and live vicariously through his friends and teammates.

Worley admits to going stir crazy, and considering extreme measures to get back in the game.

“There was a time after Week 2, where I was thinking about calling the NFLPA and asking them if I could just play without pay,” Worley said on this week’s Raiders Insider Podcast. “I just wanted to play. It’s that feeling, that passion for the game and that pride you have about what you do. It’s so strong. You just want to go play.”

Worley wasn’t allowed, not even for free. Not while suspended for violating the NFL policies on substance abuse and personal conduct. Punitive action came after Worley pleaded guilty to DUI, resisting arrest and carrying a firearm in public relating to an April 15 incident were he was found passed out in a vehicle near the Philadelphia Eagles facility.

The Eagles released him the following day, roughly five weeks after he was surprisingly traded to the Super Bowl champs from Carolina. That was a big deal for Worley, a North Philadelphia native who grew up rooting for the hometown team.

That tenure didn’t last long, and was an unwelcome setback on his career arc. Worley believes it was part of a grand plan, something he can learn and grow from.

“The way I chalked everything up, no matter how the tenure may have started or ended, I always look at it as part of God’s plan,” Worley said. “He does everything for a reason, and I felt as though He brought me there maybe to experience something, including the trials and tribulations. And He also ended my time there for certain reasons.

“I’m just thankful to have gotten another opportunity out here in Oakland.”

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden granted Worley that second chance, knowing full well league discipline was likely. One the eve of the four-game suspension, Gruden vowed to stand by Worley, help him through a difficult time and give him an opportunity to get his career back on track.

Worley says he won’t forget that.

“The first phone call I got from anyone in the Oakland organization was Coach Gruden,” Worley said. “We talked, had a long conversation and built a great connection in a positive manner. I was happy, and felt the love coming out here.”

Why Raiders should make Emmanuel Sanders priority in NFL free agency

Why Raiders should make Emmanuel Sanders priority in NFL free agency

So, you want to compete with the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs? Well, you're going to need a lot more firepower.

Jon Gruden knows that.

In what was Year 1 of a true rebuild for the Raiders following the teardown in 2018, the Silver and Black showed a lot of promise, with a historic draft class leading them to a 7-9 record. The building blocks are being put in place for the Raiders to march up the AFC West pecking order. While another draft-day haul is needed, Gruden knows he doesn't yet have the offensive weapons to contend with Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City. 

Yes, the Raiders have a big question mark at quarterback, but this is about a different area of need -- the team's biggest area of need -- other than the black hole at linebacker. The Raiders need wide receivers. Many of them. They need dynamic playmakers who can stretch the field, make people miss and rack up explosive plays. Players who can answer a lightning strike from Mahomes that left the Raiders stunned and wobbling last season.

They'll likely select one early in the 2020 NFL Draft and maybe another in the third round. But that won't be enough. With $54 million in projected cap space, expect the Raiders to look to the free-agent market to add a veteran receiver to help Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow and tight end Darren Waller shoulder the load. 

The Raiders don't seem like a home for A.J. Green and we can cross former Raider Amari Cooper off the list. Robby Anderson might be a fit, and the Raiders reportedly had interest in him at the deadline, but his price tag might be a tad high for a guy that isn't a true No. 1.

Gruden needs only look to the Raiders' now-former Bay Area neighbor for a free agent worth their while. 

Emmanuel Sanders came over to the 49ers in a midseason trade with the Denver Broncos and immediately paid dividends. He was able to lead a young receiver group while being successful running every type of route for coach Kyle Shanahan.

Sanders is most effective in a West Coast type of offense such as the one Gruden runs. The 32-year-old completely transformed his game after tearing his Achilles, reinventing himself as a savvy, veteran playmaker. He's a highly efficient route-runner and has some of the surest hands in the game, only dropping one pass last season.

His arrival in San Francisco took the 49ers' passing game from an attack with puppy teeth to one that could shred defenses in an instant. He played a key role in the development of Deebo Samuel, who became a lethal weapon as the season wore on. Sanders also is a good blocker on the outside, as he showcased during the 49ers' run to the Super Bowl.

Don't let Jimmy Garoppolo's overthrow in Super Bowl LIV taint your opinion of Sanders. With the title on the line, Sanders smoked his man, blew past the safety and was in line to be a Super Bowl hero had the pass been on target.

He's played in three Super Bowls and knows what it takes to get to, and win, the biggest game in sports. His leadership and experience would be as valuable as his on-field production.

Some will argue Sanders' age is a red flag or that the 49ers are destined to re-sign him. Due to the 49ers' cap situation, it seems more likely than not that they will let Sanders walk. At age 32, Sanders is exiting his prime, but he's the perfect veteran receiver to complement Tyrell Williams, mentor Renfrow and the incoming top prospect (s) (CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy) and provide a reliable target for Derek Carr, Tom Brady or whoever is under center for the Raiders in 2020.

[RELATED: Why Raiders would make sense in Darius Slay trade]

The Raiders need to take their offense to the next level. Their offensive line is stout, running back Josh Jacobs is a star and Renfrow and Waller will be long-term staples of the offensive attack. Gruden will expect more from Williams in Year 2 of his contract after the veteran receiver was hampered by injuries in 2019. 

But they need to get more explosive at receiver. No matter who the quarterback is, Renfrow and Waller can't be the only weapons. If that's the case again in 2020, the results will be the same.

A deep draft class at receiver will help the Raiders stock the arsenal, but they'll need another proven veteran as well.

Sanders, who PFF projects to make around $10 million per season, would give Gruden a do-it-all veteran who has ranked as one of the 25 most valuable receivers in each of the past two seasons. And it also would leave the Raiders with money to spend to improve a defense that needs a lot of work.

An offense with Sanders, Williams, Renfrow, Waller, Jacobs and at least one young star from the draft would give the Raiders' offense the pop Gruden has been missing.

Derek Carr posts photo with Khalil Mack, adding to Bears trade rumors

Derek Carr posts photo with Khalil Mack, adding to Bears trade rumors

The picture of Tom Brady talking to Raiders owner Mark Davis at a UFC fight was burned into Oakland Las Vegas Raiders fans' minds.

What would that mean for Derek Carr? Could he be headed to the Windy City to meet up with an old friend? 

There has been a lot of speculation about Carr getting traded this offseason. Carr had a less than memorable season during the Raiders' last year in Oakland, and a photo on his Instagram just adds to the swirling thoughts.

Carr added a picture of himself and Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack, with no caption.

Naturally, the comments section flooded with speculation. 

The two are former Raiders teammates, and despite Carr's "meh" season, he would be an improvement over current Bears QB Mitch Trubisky -- who could also use a change of scenery. 

[RELATED: One NFL exec sees Raiders as Brady's fallback]

Carr's contract could make a trade hard, but this IG post on top of everything else makes us think.

The quarterback will blow out 29 candles on his birthday cake next month which could only help his cause.