Raiders

McKenzie: Raiders well prepared with Carr, Mack extensions on horizon

McKenzie: Raiders well prepared with Carr, Mack extensions on horizon

The Raiders once again march into the offseason with significant salary cap space. That’s been the case a few years now, since general manager Reggie McKenzie got his franchise right with the cap by exchanging bad contracts for good.

McKenzie currently has $46.5 million available, according to overthecap.com, to spend on draft picks, free agents and his own players.

There are teams with more money available, but there’s plenty to do what’s necessary.

A top priority will be keeping superstar quarterback Derek Carr and edge rusher Khalil Mack in silver and black.

“You can say that,” McKenzie said last week. “The good thing is we do have time, but I’m not the type to wait until the last minute. Those two guys are not only great players but they are great men. They are true Raiders and I want to make sure we do the best that we can to make sure that they stay Raiders.”

McKenzie accurately points out the Raiders have some time to work these deals out. The Raiders have a fifth-year option on Mack, a luxury afforded teams on all first-round picks. He’ll have two years until the open market creeps up, with a possible franchise tag to extend that stretch.

There’s less sand in Carr’s hourglass. There’s no fifth-year option on the second-round pick’s four-year deal, meaning their franchise quarterback is ready to enter a contract year.

The Raiders don’t want him anywhere near free agency or the franchise tag’s exorbitant pricing on quarterbacks. A contract extension could come this offseason to keep Carr a Raider long-term – his broken fibula should have zero impact on contract talk – meaning the Raiders must in time adjust to life with a massive cap number for their quarterback.

McKenzie and his staff prepared well for that day. They have signed veteran free agents to contracts with up-front money that essentially become pay-as-you-go deals over time. That provides flexibility should money be needed elsewhere and not stuck to an underperforming player.

The Raiders might have to make tough decisions regarding popular supporting players who could command more money elsewhere.

“You can’t keep everybody,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said shortly after the season. “You can’t pay everybody, especially once you start paying your quarterback what he’s going to end up making, which I’m sure will be a pretty nice amount. So we’ve been fortunate the last few years, we’ve been able to do more other places because we didn’t have a lot put in the quarterback number. As that number goes up, it’ll limit some of the things you have to do.”

Attrition will happen as some quality players leave for greater riches, but there are several top NFL teams with highly-paid quarterbacks. For example, five of the top six teams with highest-paid quarterbacks in 2016 made the playoffs.

“Hopefully it won’t beat up the roster that much,” McKenzie said. “You try to do the best that you can to work the contracts so you can keep as many good players as possible. But, we all know that you cannot have a roster of a lot of multi-million dollar players. That’s just not the way this system works. So, we’re just going to have to continue to strive to get good players for the lesser amount. I mean, it’s just the way it is. Our quarterback is going to command a high dollar. Khalil’s going to command a high dollar. So, we’ll work around it. But we don’t feel, at this point, threatened by it.”

Big cap numbers for Carr and Mack also places a premium on drafting and developing players well. Those guys are cheaper, and can keep roster strength high.

The Raiders prefer to reward their own players but have to spend smart, starting with the 13 players set to become unrestricted free agents later this spring. That group includes running back Latavius Murray, tackle Menelik Watson, receiver Andre Holmes and linebackers Malcolm Smith and Perry Riley.

“We’ll have decisions to make,” Del Rio said. “I’m sure we’ll want to keep as much of the nucleus. We have a good, young nucleus of players here. We want to keep as much of that nucleus intact as possible. That will be the plan going forward.”

Raiders' Jeremiah Valoaga, D.J. Killings opt out of 2020 NFL season

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Raiders' Jeremiah Valoaga, D.J. Killings opt out of 2020 NFL season

Two Raiders have been added to the growing list of NFL players opting out of the 2020 season.

Former UNLV defensive end Jeremiah Valoaga and cornerback D.J. Killings are the first two players from the organization to make the decision.

The moves were confirmed by an official transaction announced by the team as they were placed on the reserve/opt out list.

Valoaga has spent time with the Lions, Dolphins and 49ers. He was claimed off waivers in December and signed a one-year deal with the Raiders in April.

Killings is a cornerback who spent last year on injured reserve for the Raiders and was re-signed in May.

Read more at the Las Vegas Review-Journal

 

Raiders' Mike Mayock explains how Las Vegas heat affects training camp

Raiders' Mike Mayock explains how Las Vegas heat affects training camp

Anyone who has spent time there in the summer knows: The heat in Las Vegas is no joke.

With coronavirus forcing the Raiders to move training camp to the organization's new facility in Henderson, Nevada, players and staff have had to acclimate to a pretty consistent diet of 100+ degree days, something that isn't exactly ideal for professional athletes looking to get a workout in.

“I’ve been all over the country, obviously, and I’ve been hot,” Mayock told NBC Sports' Peter King on a day that reached 113 degrees in Sin City. “But this is pretty hard to get used to.”

[RAIDERS TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

But don't think for a second that Mayock and the Raiders' leadership didn't anticipate scorching temperatures during training camp.

“Jon wants to practice outside some," Mayock continued. "The good thing for us is, we’ve got three alternatives for practice—an outdoor grass field, an indoor [FieldTurf] field with one-and-a-half fields, and a climate-controlled stadium. When we’re outside, Jon wants to be off the field by 10 a.m.”

The climate in Las Vegas is similar to what the Arizona Cardinals have to deal with in Phoenix. Facing similarly brutal summers, the Cardinals conduct most of their training camp activities inside the team's home stadium in Glendale, Ariz., which features a retractable roof.

[RELATED: Raiders won't allow fans at home games in first Vegas season]

Mark Davis recently said he hopes the team will continue the tradition in 2021 of hosting training camp in Northern California's Napa Valley, where it had been for the past 25 years prior to 2020.

“I would like to continue to do it there,” Davis said. “It is one of the most beautiful places in the world and gives us ties back to our Northern California roots. Southern California is another possibility, but I just think there is nothing better than Napa.”