Raiders

NFL free agency: Safety Lamarcus Joyner plans to sign Raiders contract

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NFL free agency: Safety Lamarcus Joyner plans to sign Raiders contract

The Raiders have a young secondary, with three of the four starting spots locked up by players with three years experience or less.

They needed veteran leadership in the back, without sacrificing effectiveness. They locked that player down Monday evening, a league source said, by agreeing on terms of a four-year contract with free safety Lamarcus Joyner. He has versatility the Raiders prefer, with quality play at safety and slot cornerback. 

On Tuesday afternoon, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the contract is for four years and $42 million. But the agreement won’t become official and a contract won’t be signed before Wednesday afternoon, when the NFL league year begins.

The 28-year old former L.A. Ram has been a high-level player since moving from slot cornerback to free safety in 2017, starting an excellent two-year run in the starting lineup.

He had 78 tackles, an interception, a sack and three passed defensed in 2018, and 49 tackles, three picks and nine pass breakups the year before that.

Joyner should be paired with 2016 first-round pick Karl Joseph at safety, flanked by cornerbacks Gareon Conley and Daryl Worley. Worley is a restricted free agent, but received a second-round contract tender and is fully expected back in silver and black. Erik Harris will also be in the mix at safety. Nick Nelson was drafted to play slot cornerback, but the Raiders could look to add another corner in free agency or the draft. 

Joyner has graded out well as a run defender and a cover man – quarterback have just a 73.1 passer rating when targeting him, per Pro Football Focus -- showing versatility the Raiders prefer. Joseph is more of a box safety and occasional pass rusher but can play deep to mix things up.

Joyner played out his rookie contract with the Rams and was played on the franchise tag in 2018, which paid out $11.287 million. That made him a tough re-sign despite a solid year with the Rams, and they chose to go in a different, cheaper direction by signing Eric Weddle.

He’ll remain in California one more year, before moving to Las Vegas with the Raiders in 2020. He fits the Raiders’ desire to sign players in or entering their prime, a change after inking so many 30-plus free agents last season.

[RELATED: Raiders, Harris agree to terms]

Free safety was a major need and free agency was the expected place to fill it, given the depth and quality of this free-agent class. Joyner’s four-year deal also means the Raiders don’t have to push it and take a safety high in the NFL draft over a better available player. 

NFL draft: Could Raiders be trying to trade up for Kyler Murray?

NFL draft: Could Raiders be trying to trade up for Kyler Murray?

With six days to go until the 2019 NFL Draft,  Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock reportedly closed their ranks, sending all of their lower-tier scouts home due to a lack of trust. 

It makes sense for the Raiders to send people home for a few reasons, mainly the fact that they have all the information they need and now it's up to Gruden and Mayock to make the decisions.

But, what if the Silver and Black want secrecy for a different reason? What if there's a prospect who likely will be selected before the Raiders are on the clock at No. 4, that Gruden and Mayock want to try and maneuver a trade to go up and get? An electric quarterback who dazzled during his lone season as a college starter and has all the tools to be successful in the modern NFL.

Kyler Murray.

Of course, the prevailing thought is that the Arizona Cardinals will select Murray with the No. 1 overall pick and jettison quarterback Josh Rosen to parts unknown. But reports leaked Thursday that the Raiders could make a "big move" for Murray, and now it makes a little more sense that Mayock and Gruden shuttered themselves in with only the trusted surrounding them. 

After an underwhelming first season in Gruden's offense, many have wondered how long Derek Carr would remain the quarterback in Oakland. While Mayock and Gruden have offered some support for the 28-year-old signal-caller, it hasn't been overwhelming, at all. 

In fact, despite Mayock and Gruden claiming Carr is their guy, the Raiders met with Murray and worked him out in Dallas earlier this month.

It's actually pretty well known that both Mayock and Gruden love Murray.

To be fair, what's not to love?

During his lone season as the starter at Oklahoma, Murray captivated the college football world, throwing for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns en route to winning the Heisman Trophy.

Plain and simple, Murray would be the perfect quarterback for the Raiders' revamped offense.

After adding Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, J.J. Nelson and offensive tackle Trent Brown, the Raiders are in need of a dynamic quarterback who can extend plays with his legs and utilize the team's new field-stretching weapons by taking down-field shots.

Last season at Oklahoma, Murray averaged 11.6 yards per pass and a ridiculous 16.8 yards per competition. He was the very definition of a stretch-the-field passer.

Compare that to Carr, who averaged 7.3 yards per pass and 10.6 yards per completion last season, and it's easy to see why the Raiders might be looking to make a splash. Sure, Carr's numbers could be the result of lesser down-field weapons, or perhaps the Fresno State product just isn't as confident in going downfield as he needs to be in the modern NFL.

Carr, 28, was an MVP candidate in 2016, but he has failed to take the next step in his progression over the past two seasons. During that time, Carr has completed 66 percent of his passes while accumulating a 41-to-23 touchdown to interception ratio. Carr is a solid NFL quarterback, but he doesn't have the upside and playmaking ability that Murray does and perhaps a fresh start would do him good.

In today's wide-open NFL, a mobile, playmaking quarterback and a star receiver can take you a long way. Just ask Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and the Kansas City Chiefs. The very thing a number of NFL teams are trying to replicate now.

If Gruden and Mayock really are as in love with Murray as it appears, perhaps they closed ranks in order to try and work out a trade with the Cardinals, knowing that should it fall through, they can deny and throw their weight back behind Carr.

[RELATED: Boom or bust? Some options for Raiders in first round of NFL draft]

With four picks in the top 35, the Raiders have enough ammunition to move around in a number of ways. Until recently, it's been believed they would focus on rebuilding their defense early in the draft, but perhaps Gruden has his eyes on a bigger prize than Quinnen Williams or Nick Bosa. Perhaps he has his eyes on the star who was supposed to be patrolling center field at the same Coliseum the Raiders will call home for one more season.

Murray has all the tools a quarterback needs in the modern NFL, and there's no doubt Gruden has thought about the 5-foot-10 signal-caller tossing long touchdowns to Brown for the foreseeable future.

If the infatuation is real, only one question remains: Can the Raiders do what is needed to go get Kyler Murray?

Boom or bust: Some best, scariest options for Raiders' first-round picks

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Boom or bust: Some best, scariest options for Raiders' first-round picks

Raiders general manager Mike Mayock wants four foundational players from this NFL draft. Finding them is far easier near the top, where the Raiders have three first-round picks.

He and head coach Jon Gruden have to hit at an above average rate even with all that draft capital, which could increase with a trade down at either No. 4, 24, 27 or 35.

The defense needs serious help almost everywhere, and the offense has specific holes to plug as the 2019 season encroaches. Every upgrade-worthy position won’t get addressed in one draft, but they have to make the most of selections they do make.

Will the Raiders land some boom picks or busts in the first round? We’ll choose a few options at each first-round pick that could end up like Khalil Mack or, JaMar—well, the quarterback who shall not be named.

No. 4 overall

NOTE: We’re going to set some rules at No. 4 to think outside the box a bit: The Raiders love Ohio State edge rusher Nick Bosa as a producer and scheme fit, but we’ll assume he’s gone in the top three. We’ll take Quinnen Williams away as well to make things interesting, even though we think the interior defensive lineman is a sure thing and would be the pick if he’s sitting there at four.

Boom?: LB Devin White, LSU The do-it-all linebacker doesn’t fill a glaring need here, but the Raiders need to take the best player available wherever possible to strengthen this roster long term. If Bosa and Williams are gone – they have been eliminated as options for this story – and the Raiders don’t like options to trade down, White could be a dynamic, safe selection at No. 4.

He has great playing speed, hits hard, isn’t afraid to blitz and can cover tight ends. The Raiders haven’t had a player like that in the middle for years, and he could lead this Raiders defense for years. Sure, the Raiders have Vontaze Burfict and Brandon Marshall, but those veterans aren’t long-term answers and shouldn’t stop the Raiders from taking someone who seems to be a surefire NFL standout at No. 4. While the team’s primary focus at No. 4 hones on a few prospects or trade down, White could offer great value and Jon Gruden-like tenacity at an important position.

Bust?: OLB/DE Josh Allen, Kentucky Before we all freak out at this selection and tag him with this link on social media, let’s make this clear: Josh Allen should be an excellent pro. He has the size, speed, and pass-rush ability and work ethic to succeed in this league. But…would that happen with the Raiders? Is he a perfect scheme fit? Probably not. Analysts say he’s better suited for a 3-4 defense as a standup outside linebacker, where he could rush, stop the run and cover. While coordinator Paul Guenther is an innovative mind who can make any talented player work, this might not be a perfect pairing. Again, and I can’t say this enough, we’re talking bust POTENTIAL, with players consider worthy of the No. 4 pick. Those guys are almost always elite talents.

No. 24 overall

Boom?: RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama Taking runners in the first round can be a polarizing proposition, but Jacobs is a do-it-all player who would fit well as Jon Gruden’s feature back. He has power and acceleration to rush inside and out. He’s a solid receiver with some elusiveness in space. Analysts see potential in him as a pass protector. He also doesn’t have many carries to his credit, so he’s fresh and ready to assume a large workload. He’ll still get rest with Gruden’s preference of using several runners, but Jacobs could be an excellent lead back with plenty of touches in this scheme.

Bust?: DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson The Raiders need edge rush help at some point early in the draft and would look to get one in the 20s if their top pick goes in a different direction. As with Allen, there’s a real possibility Ferrell develops into a solid, productive pro. After all, he was steadily productive at Clemson. But…if we’re playing devil’s advocate, he was playing on an awesome defensive line with intimidators everywhere. Also, Ferrell won’t wow you with athletic traits, creating some concern with how he’ll fare against the NFL’s best offensive tackles. He’s a 4-3 defensive end and would fit the scheme, but will great college production continue in the pros at a level worthy of a first-round pick?

[RELATED: Raiders send scouts home for lack of trust]

No. 27 overall

Boom?: CB Rock Ya Sin, Temple This aggressive cover man is tough, competitive as heck and has great ball skills. Does that sound like a Raiders cornerback, or what? The former wrestler can obviously mix it up at the line of scrimmage, and analysts say he’s good finding the ball in the air and making plays on it. He’ll play tough against the run and battle throughout a game. He could give the secondary some grit as the Raiders search for quality, depth and long-term solutions at an important position.

Bust?: Greedy Williams, LSU Williams has a lot of plus traits and an excellent first name for a cornerback. Analysts say he lacks play strength and has a thin frame. He’s could be a quality cover man, but there he’s not terribly physical. The Raiders like corners who tackle well and never give up.