Raiders

NFL rumors: Raiders meeting with free agent safety George Iloka

NFL rumors: Raiders meeting with free agent safety George Iloka

After making splashy offseason additions on offense, the Raiders have to work hard to improve a defense that ranked last in points allowed per game and 26th in yards allowed.

Oakland added safety Lamarcus Joyner and signed former Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict to a one-year contract Tuesday and now it looks like Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden are focused on adding depth to their secondary.  

One day after signing Burfict, the Raiders reportedly are meeting with free agent safety George Iloka, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport. 

Iloka, 29, spent the first six seasons of his career with the Bengals before playing for the Minnesota Vikings last season. Iloka enjoyed his best seasons under former Bengals and current Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. During his six seasons with the Bengals, Iloka showed good coverage skills while also being a reliable tackler. 

Iloka apparently isn't the only defensive back the Silver and Black are set to meet with, according to Rapoport, as cornerback Tyler Patmon and safety Curtis Riley also reportedly are in Oakland for a visit. 

[RELATED: Burfict wants AB beef behind him now that they're teammates]

The Raiders made a number of noteworthy moves to open free agency, but potential depth signings like Iloka are of the utmost importance and could be a big factor in making the Raiders one of the most improved teams in the NFL.

Raiders release QB Landry Jones, make room for tight end Erik Swoope

Raiders release QB Landry Jones, make room for tight end Erik Swoope

Derek Carr is the Raiders’ unquestioned starting quarterback and Mike Glennon’s the early and odds-on favorite to be his primary backup.

That left Nathan Peterman and Landry Jones to battle for a third spot that may or may not be there come September.

The competition didn’t last long. Jones was released on Wednesday afternoon, to make room for new tight end Erik Swoope and keep the Raiders' roster at its 90-man maximum.

Jones played five seasons in Pittsburgh and 2018 in Jacksonville before signing with the Raiders in late March.

The 30-year old had experience, but head coach Jon Gruden sees potential in Peterman despite a rocky start to his career in Buffalo.

Jones’ release came a day after Peterman made several quality throws in a Tuesday OTA practice open to the media. If he had been doing that in private portions of the offseason program, releasing Jones may have been an easier move.

Swoope joins a packed tight end position group that also includes Darren Waller, Derek Carrier, Luke Willson, Paul Butler and fourth-round draft pick Foster Moreau.

Something will have to give in that position group over time, with far more bodies than roster spots. Waller seems like a lock and Moreau’s most certainly on board, leaving one or two openings available for the rest. Things could get competitive there, especially if Swoope shows well and Willson flashes old form.

[RELATED: Raiders ready to unleash one of NFL's 'best-kept secrets']

Swoope spent four seasons with Indianapolis, highlighted by a 2016 with 15 receptions for 297 yards and a touchdown.

The Raiders are now in phase III of the offseason program, with another OTA session Thursday and seven more spread over the next two weeks.

Raiders trying to keep Darren Waller one of NFL's 'best-kept secrets'

Raiders trying to keep Darren Waller one of NFL's 'best-kept secrets'

ALAMEDA – The Raiders would prefer Darren Waller stay out of the spotlight. Teammates and coaches were hesitant to discuss the athletic tight end at this point in the calendar, lest early word travel that this guy can really play.

Head coach Jon Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr addressed Waller Tuesday as if he’s someone who shall not be named.

“Oh my, Waller? He’s super slow,” Carr said after the team’s first OTA session. “I don’t know if we’re going to use him much.”

Carr’s deadpan didn’t last long. His smile cracked and evoked laughter from those around him, who all saw Waller’s 2018 cameo in silver and black. He flashed largely unrealized potential against Cincinnati two weeks after the Raiders signed him off Baltimore’s practice squad, slicing through the defense for a 44-yard gain. The converted receiver has all the speed and skill and athleticism required to step in for departed receiving tight end Jared Cook.

Waller has set himself back with an injury and then multiple NFL suspensions for substance abuse, but has a golden opportunity to properly launch his career in Oakland.

“Darren has the skillset, he has the want-to, he has the aggression to do it, now he just has to go do it. I’m really excited about him,” Carr said. “Darren Waller is super, super fast, if I’m being real, and he works his tail off. He’s very smart and I can check a play within two seconds of the play clock being out and he’ll be on and run the right thing. He’s super fun to be around, he’s a great guy.”

[RELATED: Derek Carr was 'annoyed' by speculation]

That opinion’s common among Waller’s teammates, who might have a tough time keeping quiet about him as we near the regular season. His stats sheet won’t wow you. He has 18 catches for 178 yards and two scores since 2015. His play might, if he earns targets in a pattern full of quality receivers.

“Since the time he’s walked in here, he’s been one of the most impressive guys on our team,” Gruden said. “He learns fast. He is fast. He’s extremely talented. I think he’s going to be one of the best-kept secrets in the league. I really believe he’s got a future if he keeps working like he is.”