Raiders

NFL rumors: Birmingham, Tucson partnering to host Raiders home games

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AP

NFL rumors: Birmingham, Tucson partnering to host Raiders home games

The Raiders' search for a home field for the 2019 NFL season just keeps getting weirder. Somehow, it's now turned to Alabama ... and Arizona. 

Both Birmingham, Ala., and Tucson, Ariz., reportedly are vying to partner as hosts for Raiders home games this season. 

Birmingham city councilor William Parker told AL.com that hosting the Raiders would be "a perfect marriage." 

“The fans in Alabama love football. Obviously, the people in San Francisco and Oakland don’t want them and there’s a fan base here for the Raiders,” Parker said, adding that he “got calls from a lot of citizens saying they’ve been Raiders fans since they were kids.”

Professional football returned to Birmingham on Sunday. The Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football played their inaugural game at Legion Field, which holds over 71,000 people.

The Iron drew just 17,000 fans in their debut. 

[RELATED: Odds are in on where Raiders will play home games in 2019]

Stay tuned, you never know which city, or cities, will reportedly host the Raiders next before they head to Las Vegas in 2020.

Why Raiders will keep close eye on NFL franchise tags in 2019 offseason

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AP

Why Raiders will keep close eye on NFL franchise tags in 2019 offseason

NFL teams can start tagging players Tuesday. Don’t expect the Raiders to slap one on any of their prospective free agents during this two-week tagging window, but they will keep a close eye on others who do.

There’s a glut of top-flight edge rushers set to hit the market, and though most won’t reach it thanks to franchise (and, far less likely) transition tags. There are backup plans enacted when teams can’t reach a long-term pact with an elite player.

As a quick refresher, players who sign and play on the tag get a lofty sum (it varies based upon the tag designation) for one year of service. It’s a tool teams use to retain a top player’s rights – the Raiders could’ve used one on Khalil Mack this offseason had they played hardball and retained his rights without a long-term contract – but it’s not a long-term solution.

It’s typically a security blanket to keep a star player, and tags could get applied in volume this offseason on edge rushers especially. Dallas (DeMarcus Lawrence), Houston (Jadeveon Clowney), Seattle (Frank Clark) and Kansas City (Dee Ford) could all essentially take pass rushers off the market. Other teams can sign franchise players, but it costs a pretty penny and draft compensation.

The Raiders wouldn’t go that big to sign a veteran free agent, especially after being unwilling to lock Mack down last summer.

Detroit’s Ziggy Ansah, New England’s Trey Flowers and Minnesota’s Anthony Barr are also possible tag targets, though those guys seem less likely to receive a designation.

The more guys who get tagged, the more competitive things could get for remaining veteran free agents. There are plenty available in the NFL draft – the Raiders could snag one with the No. 4 overall pick – but adding a veteran leader up front might help a young defensive line.

The Raiders might go after tag prospects at other positions, so they’ll want as few as possible to open options when free agents can sign with other teams in mid-March.

[RELATED: Raiders less affected by Jaylon Ferguson's NFL Scouting Combine ban]

For those who don’t think the Raiders are out of the tag business on spec, only Jared Cook could be considered a tag candidate. He’s coming off a career year, but he’ll be 32 soon and the franchise tag for tight ends is approximately $10.9 million. That’s too steep for one year of Cook, who could end up leaving Oakland after two solid seasons for the Raiders.

The tag window opens Tuesday and closes March 5, and the Raiders will keep an eye on what the tags do to shrink the available free-agent talent pool.

2019 NFL mock draft: Mel Kiper Jr. first-round picks for 49ers, Raiders

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2019 NFL mock draft: Mel Kiper Jr. first-round picks for 49ers, Raiders

No team will change the fortunes of the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft quite like the Oakland Raiders, and that much is clear in the latest mock draft from ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr.

In his second mock draft of the year, Kiper Jr. projected the Raiders would select three different players in the first round than he did a month ago. Oakland has three selections after trading edge rusher Khalil Mack and wide receiver Amari Cooper, both of whom were first-round picks themselves. 

Meanwhile, the Raiders' counterparts across the Bay are projected to maintain their focus on the edge. Here's how Kiper Jr. thinks the first round will shake out for the 49ers and Raiders. 

49ers, No. 2: Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky

What Kiper Jr. is saying: "Two former first-round picks along the defensive line (Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas) have struggled in San Francisco, but neither has the pure pass-rushing ability of Allen, who had 17 sacks and five forced fumbles last season. Allen would fill a glaring need."

Analysis: San Francisco ranked in the bottom-third of the league in sacks (37) in 2018. There are options in free agency, but adding a cost-controlled top prospect would help the 49ers preserve their already abundant salary-cap space and allow them to address their pass-rushing deficiency immediately. Allen appears as pro-ready as any player in this draft, and is a strong consolation prize for missing out on Nick Bosa.

Raiders, No. 4: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan

What Kiper Jr. is saying: "Expect coach Jon Gruden and new [general manager] Mike Mayock to target a pass-rusher with one of their three first-round picks. Gary (6-6, 283) has some versatility to kick inside and play tackle, but he has a high ceiling as an end. When he's locked in, he can dominate a game."

Analysis: Kiper Jr. had Gary seventh on his big board a couple weeks ago, and projected him to be selected ninth in his first mock draft.  Gary said last week he is "the best player in the draft," and although that confidence probably isn't why he's moved in Kiper Jr.'s eyes, the Raiders could certainly use some bravado on the edge after trading Mack just before the season.

Raiders, No. 24: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

What Kiper Jr. is saying: "We know that Jon Gruden loves playmakers -- I heard him talk about them for years. And Murphy is one of the best defensive playmakers in this class, a ball hawk who had seven interceptions over two seasons at Washington."

Analysis: Murphy might have been the best college cornerback in 2018, and he was a first-team All-American by Pro Football Focus' estimation. Kiper Jr. projected Murphy as the third CB off of the board in his latest mock draft, so the redshirt sophomore could represent great value for Oakland if he falls to the back end of the first round.

Raiders, No. 27, Brian Burns, Florida State

What Kiper Jr. is saying: "This match is all about helping the Raiders improve their pass rush, as the 6-5, 235-pound Burns is a pure speed edge rusher. He needs to get a little bigger, but time in an NFL strength and conditioning program should help. "

Analysis: Two edge rushers in Silver and Black? After the Raiders posted the fewest sacks by a team in the last 10 years, that'd be music to Mayock and Gruden's ears. Last year, Burns recorded three fewer sacks (10) by himself than Oakland's entire pass rush.