Raiders

Marquette King a renaissance man, though punting is his specialty

Marquette King a renaissance man, though punting is his specialty

SARASOTA, Fla. – Raiders players had free time on Monday afternoon, and most scattered through the Sarasota Ritz Carlton hotel and the surrounding town.

Not Marquette King. The Raiders punter found a baby grand piano and started tickling the ivories. He wasn’t practicing chop sticks. The guy can flat play.

“I’m like Nick Cannon,” King said. “I can’t read music, but I can play what I can hear.”

King can flat punt, too.

While he simplifies his duty to catch it and kick it, it’s a bit more complicated than that. King seems to have mastered the art in his fourth season and the Raiders’ full-time punter.

This season could be his best, and that’s saying something. He’s averaging 42.4 net yards per attempt – the highest of his career – and has put 15 of 34 punts inside the 20-yard line. To top off that excellent stat line, he only has three touchbacks.

King had an excellent day against Jacksonville. He averaged 50.6 net yards over five punts and put four inside the 20. He also made one hard to catch. Jacksonville’s Rashad Greene muffed a punt that Andre Holmes recovered, giving the Raiders the short field required to score an easy touchdown.

Oh, and there was something about a 27-yard run off a bad snap, where he earned a first down with surprising speed.

What was King thinking on that crucial run, one that helped put Jacksonville down on Sunday afternoon?

"I just thought that,” King said, “if I ran fast enough, my ratings would go up on Madden.”

That earned some honors. King was named AFC special teams player of the week on Tuesday morning.

King, a master of social media, came up with a term for doing all that: Punthlete.

That’s an accurate term for someone among the first of his kind, a rare athlete who has become a real weapon for a quality Raiders team.

He can do other things, but earns a great living specializing in one thing.

“There ain’t nothing to really talk about,” King said. “You just catch the ball and punt it. There’s technique to it, but…”

King trailed off at that point. He isn’t interested in talking about his craft. The guy knows how to have a good time, whether it’s acting like a mannequin in a Sarasota Gap store, playing drums with a local band or playing soul music without much effort.

King taught himself how to play piano two seasons ago out of boredom on road trips, and learned the trade pretty fast.

“When I see pianos in the lobby, I just wanted to play it,” King said. “Now that I know how to play it, I can just play.

“I need it myself. It’s therapy.”
 

NFL free agency: Raiders sign ex-Steelers backup QB Landry Jones

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USATSI

NFL free agency: Raiders sign ex-Steelers backup QB Landry Jones

A familiar face will join Antonio Brown in the Raiders' locker room, as their quarterback room just got more crowded. 

The Raiders signed former Pittsburgh Steelers QB Landry Jones on Tuesday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

Jones played with Brown in Pittsburgh from 2013 to 2017. On Nov. 8, 2015, Jones and Brown even connected on a game-winning drive against the Raiders.  

Jones, who turns 30 on April 4, is one of four QBs on the Raiders roster. Last week, the Silver and Black signed Mike Glennon just over a week after cutting 2018 backup AJ McCarron. The Raiders say they're all-in on starter Derek Carr, but have meetings scheduled with some of the NFL draft's top quarterback prospects. 

[RELATED: Mark Davis thrilled Coliseum lease approved]

Still, it's worth noting that the Raiders only kept two QBs on the active roster last season. Nathan Peterman spent time on the practice squad down the stretch, and he signed a reserve-futures contract with the team in January. 

In other words, Carr figures to be the only lock to make the roster in 2019. If the Raiders draft another quarterback, it's possible the Jones/Glennon/Peterman era ends rather quickly. 

Raiders owner Mark Davis thrilled Oakland Coliseum lease was approved

Raiders owner Mark Davis thrilled Oakland Coliseum lease was approved

PHOENIX – The Raiders will spend one more season in Oakland, the final stretch of a prolonged transition from the East Bay to Las Vegas.

It will happen at the Oakland Coliseum, after NFL owners unanimously approved a new lease agreement on Monday at the annual league meeting. It was the last of four approval votes to validate a pact to play 2019 in Oakland.

It brought owner Mark Davis great relief, which was written on his face while speaking with NBC Sports Bay Area in the Arizona Biltmore hotel’s main lobby.

“I won’t work out a stadium lease again in my lifetime,” Davis said with a smile.

His search for a place to play 2019 has been stressful. The Raiders abandoned negotiations with the Oakland Coliseum in December 2018, after Oakland sued the Raiders and the NFL for antitrust violations and breach of contract.

That sent the Raiders searching outside the market, into negotiations with the San Francisco Giants to play at Oracle Park and the undesirable Levi’s Stadium option. They all proved fruitless, sending the Raiders back to work out a deal with the Oakland Coliseum.

Now the Oakland Coliseum deal is done, including a 2020 option to account for unforeseen Las Vegas stadium delays. In short, there’s the clear path to Las Vegas.

Davis is happy to have a place to play until the Raiders debut in the Silver State.

“I think (Raiders president Marc Badain and Raiders general counsel Dan Ventrelle), with both hands tied behind their back, did a really admirable job working with the city (of Oakland) and getting a deal done under tough circumstances,” Davis said. “We’re ready to go.”

Despite pulling his Raiders up and leaving for Las Vegas, Davis still holds affection for the Raiders’ Bay Area fan base, and hopes to honor the team’s past before starting a new chapter in franchise history.

“The main thing here is that we get to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the AFL and the Raiders in the Bay Area, which I was hoping to do all along,” Davis said. “That’s going to be exciting.”

While he’ll look back on his team’s tradition in 2019, Davis is focused on the future and a rapidly progressing stadium in Las Vegas.

“I go by it and water it,” Davis said with a smile. “Then I come back a couple weeks later and it grows.”

[RELATED: Carr's status unchanged with Raiders]

While there have been minor delays, the new venue opening just off the Las Vegas Strip should be ready to host games in Aug. 2020. A state-of-the-art training facility is being built in nearby Henderson, Nevada, and that could be ready around June 2020.

Until then, however, the Raiders have a place to play in Oakland as this long transition comes to a close.