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


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.”

Daryl Worley has eyes wide open heading into important Raiders season


Daryl Worley has eyes wide open heading into important Raiders season

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.”

[RELATED: AB setting new standard for Raiders during offseason program]

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.”

Raiders sign first-round draft pick Johnathan Abram to four-year contract


Raiders sign first-round draft pick Johnathan Abram to four-year contract

The Raiders are getting some business done before summer vacation truly starts. The Silver and Black signed a third member of their NFL draft class late Tuesday afternoon when No. 27 overall pick Johnathan Abram inked his rookie contract.

No. 4 selection Clelin Ferrell and No. 40 pick Trayvon Mullen signed earlier in the day.

No. 24 overall pick Josh Jacobs is the only Raiders draftee that remains unsigned, and it’s certainly possible his deal gets done before rookies formally leave on summer vacation later this week. They stayed an extra week after the offseason program’s end to work with the strength staff and player engagement department on off-the-field education common to all first-year NFL players.

Abram was slotted to receive a contract worth $11.45 million over four years that includes $6.380 million in a signing bonus. There’s also a fifth-year team option available that is standard for all first-round picks.

[RELATED: AB setting new standard for all Raiders during offseason program]

The Raiders selected Abram with the first-round pick the Dallas Cowboys gave up for Amari Cooper. Abram impressed during the offseason program and joined the first unit during the final week of OTAs. He was there again in minicamp, and a solid training camp could lock him into a starting safety spot right away.