Raiders

Despite optimistic attitude, Derek Carr aware Raiders seek furtherance

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USATSI

Despite optimistic attitude, Derek Carr aware Raiders seek furtherance

Derek Carr is a super positive guy. The Raiders quarterback doesn't slam teammates in public. He doesn't sell guys down the river or make excuses even when everybody knows he was playing with less than a full deck.

That happened throughout 2018 while working with two rookie tackles, injuries on the interior line and a rotating cast of receivers.

Carr never complained while getting sacked 51 times in 2018, and didn’t point fingers when playmakers kept getting hurt or traded.

After the 2018 season mercifully ended in Kansas City, Carr finally conceded the obvious. The Raiders need some help.

He still put a positive spin on things, saying the Raiders can get better in a hurry. Only, however, if the roster gets some upgrades.

“It’s not as far (away) as people think. I’ve been through some things and gotten better quick,” Carr said after the season finale. “Talent-wise, we need to add some pieces here and there. I’m just being honest. It is what it is. But, schematically, we’re close to a lot of good things happening. …We’re really close in that way. All that means is that we haven’t done it yet. We have a lot of work to do. We’ll get some time off just relaxing, and then we’ll get back to work.”

Head coach Jon Gruden and his new general manager/right-hand man Mike Mayock are already doing prep work to find upgrades in free agency and the NFL draft. The veteran free agent window opens in mid-March and the draft starts in late April.

The Raiders have plenty of needs, mostly on the defensive side of the ball. The Silver and Black need a talent infusion at the skill positions.

The starting quarterback spot seems set after Carr had a solid statistical season. He set career highs with 4,049 passing yards, a 68.9 completion percentage and, despite being labeled a check-down artist, 7.3 yards per pass attempt. The first two totals are the highest of any Jon Gruden quarterback. Carr’s yards per attempt is just a hair below Rich Gannon in 1999. Carr’s interception percentage is just a tick below Gannon and Brad Johnson in Tampa.

Carr improved throughout his first year working with Jon Gruden – his fourth play caller in five years – with steadier performance as the year progressed.

“I feel like my game and my knowledge of the game is trending (up),” Carr said. “I want to be better next year than I’ve ever been. With these coaches, I can be. To be able to set some personal records is awesome because it shows that our staff is just awesome.”

Carr’s under contract and should improve with more time under Gruden. He should get it as well, though we can’t eliminate the prospect Gruden gets a trade offer he can’t refuse before this year’s draft. The NFL draft class is weak and there are some quarterback-starved teams with rosters otherwise ready to win, which adds a sliver of unpredictability to that spot.

Again, odds are great that Carr comes back and that Gruden should be believed when he said he needs to beef up the positions around his quarterback at the team as a whole.

“We have to add some pieces,’ Gruden said. “We know that. Hopefully, we can do that here soon.”

NFL rumors: Raiders hosting former Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict

NFL rumors: Raiders hosting former Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict

The Raiders are continuing to cast a wide net in hopes of adding a veteran linebacker to what is a thing group right now. 

On Tuesday, the Raiders are hosting Vontaze Burfict, NFL Media's Tom Pelissero reported. The veteran linebacker was cut by the Bengals on Monday, and has a long relationship with Oakland's defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. 

Guenther served as Burfict's defensive coordinator in Cincinnati for four seasons from 2014-2017. 

The 28-year-old Burfict has been in the spotlight for his multiple suspensions and acts of dirty play.. He's been suspended three times in his seven-year career, and missed the first four games last season due to violating the league's PED policy.

In 2018, Burfict played in seven games and finished with 33 tackles. 

[RELATED: Raiders have to help Paul Guenther after spending heavily on offense]

The news comes one day after the Raiders reportedly hosted linebackers Manti Te'o and Aaron Lynch. The Raiders currently have a trio of Marquel Lee, Jason Cabinda and Tahir Whitehead to trot out as their linebackers.

Mike Mayock reveals why he's OK with Raiders' NFL free agency spending

Mike Mayock reveals why he's OK with Raiders' NFL free agency spending

Mike Mayock always will be associated with the NFL draft. So it should come as no surprise that the former NFL Network draft analyst had to be convinced to improve the Raiders through free agency and trades.

NBC Sports' Peter King spoke with the Raiders general manager over the weekend and wrote about what Mayock told him in his Football Morning In America column.

So I’ve known Mayock for some time, and when we spoke Saturday night, he sounded like the same driven prospect-knower I’ve come to rely on in the last few years. “I’ll be honest,” he said. “I never believed in big spending in free agency. For years, that is not where my head was. But Jon Gruden and I spent a long, long time examining our team. We had so many team needs. We figured, we can go out and spend a little money on several positions. Or this year, we can look at three, four, five, six guys who can make a difference on the field and, as importantly, in the locker room. If we can get the guys we want, we should do it. We find a way to get Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, J.J. Nelson at receiver. We get a tackle, Trent Brown, 25 years old, who doesn’t even know how good he can be, who was lock-down, shutout in the playoffs for New England. We got Rodney Hudson at center, with a good young tackle, Kolton Miller, as the other tackle. We can line up and compete right now offensively.”

With the signings of Trent Brown, Williams, Joyner, Jon Feliciano, Josh Mauro and Nelson, the Raiders added just over $40 million to their 2019 salary. When you add the nearly $15 million that Anotnio Brown will make in 2019, Oakland has added $55 million worth of players for the upcoming season.

[RELATED: How AB trade almost didn't happen]

That definitely goes against Mayock's previous mindset. But as he's probably learning, you need veterans on the team in order to compete. And Gruden isn't about to throw away another year playing a bunch of rookies.