NFL free agency: Raiders sign speedster J.J. Nelson to receiver corps

NFL free agency: Raiders sign speedster J.J. Nelson to receiver corps

The Raiders have signed five new players in free agency. Three of them are receivers.

That position claimed a majority Friday, when the team announced J.J. Nelson signed with the Silver and Black.

Terms of the contract were not immediately disclosed.

The former Arizona Cardinal has speed, and plenty of it. He isn’t a regular starter or steady contributor, but he can take the top off a defense and has a penchant for big plays.

Nelson averages 17.8 yards per catch, though he only has 81 receptions for 1,439 yards and 10 touchdowns over four seasons. He had just seven catches for 64 yards last season.

The Raiders wanted to get faster in the passing game and did that by adding Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams and now Nelson in recent days. The first two guys mentioned will start and play most every down, but don’t take Nelson’s signing to mean they’re done looking for a No. 3 receiver after cutting Jordy Nelson the day before.

The door’s open for his return, though a younger drafted talent with experience in the slot could fit in just fine. Seth Roberts also has experience there, and can be kept around to see if he fits in to 2019 plans. If not, he could be cut without dead money and nearly $4.65 million in cash and cap savings.

While the Raiders will keep fingers on free agency’s pulse, we’re moving into this period’s later stages and might not see one of the few big names remaining come to Alameda.

[RELATED: NFL free agency winners and losers]

The Raiders have plenty of cap space left, but might be running relatively low on cash flow after shelling out roughly $112 million in guaranteed money over the last week signing new players and retaining a few of their own.

Their newest addition is super fast. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.28 seconds during the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine, a blazing time the Raiders will try to utilize in their offense, which has received tons of help in the past week.

Mike Mayock reveals why he's OK with Raiders' NFL free agency spending

Mike Mayock reveals why he's OK with Raiders' NFL free agency spending

Mike Mayock always will be associated with the NFL draft. So it should come as no surprise that the former NFL Network draft analyst had to be convinced to improve the Raiders through free agency and trades.

NBC Sports' Peter King spoke with the Raiders general manager over the weekend and wrote about what Mayock told him in his Football Morning In America column.

So I’ve known Mayock for some time, and when we spoke Saturday night, he sounded like the same driven prospect-knower I’ve come to rely on in the last few years. “I’ll be honest,” he said. “I never believed in big spending in free agency. For years, that is not where my head was. But Jon Gruden and I spent a long, long time examining our team. We had so many team needs. We figured, we can go out and spend a little money on several positions. Or this year, we can look at three, four, five, six guys who can make a difference on the field and, as importantly, in the locker room. If we can get the guys we want, we should do it. We find a way to get Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, J.J. Nelson at receiver. We get a tackle, Trent Brown, 25 years old, who doesn’t even know how good he can be, who was lock-down, shutout in the playoffs for New England. We got Rodney Hudson at center, with a good young tackle, Kolton Miller, as the other tackle. We can line up and compete right now offensively.”

With the signings of Trent Brown, Williams, Joyner, Jon Feliciano, Josh Mauro and Nelson, the Raiders added just over $40 million to their 2019 salary. When you add the nearly $15 million that Anotnio Brown will make in 2019, Oakland has added $55 million worth of players for the upcoming season.

[RELATED: How AB trade almost didn't happen]

That definitely goes against Mayock's previous mindset. But as he's probably learning, you need veterans on the team in order to compete. And Gruden isn't about to throw away another year playing a bunch of rookies.

Why Raiders won award for Khalil Mack trade at MIT Sloan conference


Why Raiders won award for Khalil Mack trade at MIT Sloan conference

Daryl Morey is rooting for a team from ... Oakland?

The Houston Rockets general manager, whose Warriors obsession does not quite equate to fondness, told The Athletic's Vic Tafur he is "rooting for the Raiders" this season. The reason is even more surprising than the geography.

The Raiders won the Alpha Award at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston for "Best Transaction."

The deal?

Trading Khalil Mack (and a second-round pick) to the Chicago Bears for first-round picks in 2019 and 2020 and a third-round selection in 2020. 

“Everybody else thought it was a terrible trade, but draft picks are very valuable,” Morey told The Athletic over the phone Saturday. “Analytics tends to fly in the face of popular convention pretty often. We don’t care about what people say.”

Morey was a member of the voting panel and co-founded the conference. When he called Raiders president Marc Badain to tell him the Silver and Black took home the award, Badain thought it was a joke. 

"I had to tell him several times that I wasn't kidding," Morey said. "I guess they took a lot of heat for that."

That is an understatement. Mack finished the 2018 season with a half-a-sack fewer (12.5) than the Raiders did as a team (13), and made first-team All-Pro for the third time in the last four years. 

The 28-year-old also led the Bears to their first NFC North title (and a playoff berth) since 2010. That means the first-round selection the Raiders will ultimately receive is No. 24 overall, which is far lower than the team initially envisioned. 

[RELATED: Raiders reportedly hosting multiple veteran linebackers]

Of course, that pick is now one of five first-rounders the Silver and Black will have at its disposal in the next two drafts. That gives the Raiders a sizable opportunity to reshape their roster in the wake of winning just 10 games over the last two seasons.

The Mack trade was responsible for two of those selections, as well as the Raiders' newfound silverware. Morey said he was told the trophy is on Gruden's office desk. 

Whether any other trophies join the collection depends, at least in part, on what the Raiders do with the picks they got for Mack.