Raiders

Free War Pigeon!

raiders_war_pigeon_captured.jpg

Free War Pigeon!

ALAMEDA -- Of course, a million times of course, I type this with tongue planted firmly in cheek, er beak.

But, aside from the Raiders actually ending their six-game losing streak and beating Kansas City, 15-0, on Sunday, was there anything more entertaining than the re-appearance of War Pigeon during pregame warmups and during the first half?

"I'm surprised we didn't get a flag for 12 men (on the field)," cracked Raiders coach Dennis Allen on Monday.

Remember, it was more than three years ago when a pigeon showed up on the field during the Raiders' upset of Philadelphia on Oct. 18, 2009. The bird even "played" in kick coverage on special teams, staying in his/her/its lane on kickoffs.

Many Raiders that day said the pigeon harkened the spirit of deceased special teamer Marquis Cooper in a feel-good story from the beyond.

Sunday, a pigeon calmly strutted around the field during warmups and was almost stepped on by a dropping back Carson Palmer, before showing its quicks and getting out of harms way.

War Pigeon then made its way to the Chiefs sideline after the National Anthem -- behind enemy lines?!? -- before suddenly reappearing near midfield.

Late in the second half, the pigeon strutted around the Raiders huddle, when right guard MIke Brisiel tried to shoo it away…with his foot. Brisiel was met with lusty boos from the crowd.

"I was like, 'Oh geez,'" Brisiel said with a crooked smile, before pleading. "I was just trying to protect it. It's a war zone out there, could be dangerous.

"Something was wrong with that thing. He was a little off."

At halftime, with Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" blaring about the O.co Coliseum, field personnel tracked the pigeon down and put it in a bucket and took it out of the stadium.

A Raiders official on Monday showed a picture to media members of the freed fowl outside of the Coliseum and, of course, a Twitter account purporting to be the pigeon has been created.

"We need the pigeon to come with us to Carolina next week," another anonymous Raiders official said, and we think said official was joking.

Then again, per Associated Press, pigeons can fly 600-700 miles per day. And with the Panthers' Bank of America Stadium some 2,765 miles from the O.co Coliseum (by highway and not as the crow, er, pigeon flies), War Pigeon could conceivably stick around for gameplan install on Tuesday night and the beginning of practice Wednesday morning before starting its trek east and be there before kickoff on Sunday.

Or not.

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.