Raiders

Jordy Nelson plans to return in 2019; Raiders should welcome him back

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USATSI

Jordy Nelson plans to return in 2019; Raiders should welcome him back

ALAMEDA -- Jordy Nelson doesn’t plan on playing until he’s 40. The veteran wide receiver won’t be one of those guys who plays until his body cries uncle, finding instead a proper time and place to walk away from the NFL game that has given him so much.

That time isn’t now. Nelson plans to return for a 12th season and his second in silver and black.

He’s under contract to do so, as he's owed $7.2 million in base salary and bonuses, though none of it is guaranteed until March 2019.

So, the Raiders could release Nelson without penalty, but that’s seeming less likely, given his quality production rate and leadership down this season’s stretch.

"I plan to (return),” Nelson said Wednesday. “It’s not always the player’s decision. Yeah, that’s the plan. We’ve enjoyed our time out here so far, enjoyed being with the team and starting the rebuilding process and being a part of that."

Nelson was acquired by the Raiders shortly after being released by the Green Bay Packers, and Michael Crabtree was sent out. The swap has gleaned similar production but a better locker-room presence.

Nelson and quarterback Derek Carr recently have been in great sync, connecting 29 times for 308 yards on 34 targets over the past four games. According to analytics site Pro Football Focus, Nelson has caught every catchable ball during that span, and he hasn’t had a drop since Week 3.

Reliability is a real asset in Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s offense, where receivers must be smart, adjust on the fly and catch most everything throw their way.

“He’s a good player, as good as you’ll ever get the chance to coach,” Gruden said. "He is so instinctive, so smart, so versatile and so team oriented. That’s why he is here. I think he’s got close to 30 catches in the last four games. He’s healthy, he’s learned our offense, and he’s learned how to play anywhere on the line. Third down or any down, he is still a really good quality wide receiver.”

While the Raiders certainly could let Nelson go this offseason (or ask him to take a pay cut), he could provide stability during what’s expected to be a positional overhaul this offseason. He isn’t cheap, but the Raiders easily can afford his freight, which is worthy of a quality possession receiver.

Nelson had a midseason lull, when a bone bruise slowed him down and the ball rarely went his way. He had three catches for 30 yards on nine targets (over four games!), leading some to consider him washed up. While he doesn’t have blazing speed, Nelson can find separation when healthy and is a friendly target when yards are must-have.

[RELATED: Raiders have no chance at No. 1 overall pick in 2019 NFL Draft]

It has taken some time to get rolling, but Carr and Nelson have found a groove likely (though ultimately uncertain) to continue next season.

“Anytime you get new receivers and they’re going to be a focal point, it does take some time,” Carr said. “I would say that, especially when he came off his injury, he was healthy and we had a lot of time on task. Obviously, I trust him. He’s a great receiver.

"It was really that Colts game [on Oct. 28] where I felt like we were ready to hit it rolling. Then he ended up hitting his knee or whatever, and he was out. When he got healthy, just ever since then, he’s a trustworthy guy that does things the right way. Usually guys like that, the ball ends up finding them.”

Las Vegas Raiders can use Tom Brady to build business, Jay Glazer says

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AP

Las Vegas Raiders can use Tom Brady to build business, Jay Glazer says

While Derek Carr was in Las Vegas for the Raiders' official rebranding this week, speculation about Tom Brady joining the Silver and Black continues to simmer.

Two weeks ago, The Athletic's Jay Glazer said that Brady to the Raiders is a "no-brainer" because it would help with ticket sales, among other things.

On Friday, Glazer added a bit more context when asked again about where Brady will play next season.

"I said it last week, the Chargers or the Raiders," Glazer wrote. "I spoke about the business side of things. You guys kind of jumped on me talking about how great ticket sales are for the Raiders. I don’t know if I said ticket sales or not but there’s way more than ticket sales when you’re building up a business. They can use Tom Brady to build the business of the Raiders, which will now be an international team. I say that because of all the big business whales from all over the world who are going to come to Las Vegas and now be exposed to the Raiders."

"That’s going to be a hot ticket. The international marketing will be huge. The Raiders are going to be big players internationally with that. That’s why I would think it’s a brilliant move to go to Vegas."

Brady, who will turn 43 years old before the start of the 2020 NFL season, is a free agent and could move on the Patriots, the only franchise he has ever known.

Carr is under contract with the Raiders for three more seasons, and recently said he is "looking forward" to being under center for the first snap in Las Vegas. But head coach Jon Gruden didn't give the most glowing endorsement of Carr after the regular-season finale in December.

All of this has fueled chatter that the Raiders could bring in Brady to help open their first season in Sin City.

[RELATED: Kiper has Raiders taking two Sooners]

While Brady led the Patriots to a 12-4 record this past season, his numbers declined, suggesting that his best days are behind him.

If owner Mark Davis and Gruden want to win games and continue to build a solid foundation for the future, they'll stick with Carr. If they are more concerned with making a sexy splash, they'll make the change to Brady.

Derek Carr 'looking forward' to being QB in Raiders' Las Vegas opener

Derek Carr 'looking forward' to being QB in Raiders' Las Vegas opener

Out of a possible 96 starts since being drafted by the Raiders in 2014, quarterback Derek Carr has been under center for 94 of them.

But after a disappointing 7-9 season, many Raiders fans have clamored for a change at the game’s most important position.

Carr, however, hasn’t paid the rumors or social media fodder too much attention.

“But I'll say it this way,” Carr said (h/t ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez). “I look forward to taking the first snap in that stadium, and I look forward to taking every snap from here on out -- until I'm done."

The 28-year-old had a career year in 2019, setting career-highs in passing yards (4,054), yards per attempt (7.9), and quarterback rating (100.8).

But coach Jon Gruden grew frustrated with Carr’s inability to throw the ball downfield consistently, and some potential free agent quarterbacks reportedly have caught the Raiders’ eye.

[RELATED: Raiders should pay attention to these 10 Senior Bowl stars]

As the team re-brands and moves into its new home in Sin City, some believe the team will bring on a new starting signal-caller to usher in the Las Vegas Raiders era.

Just don’t count Carr among them.