Raiders

Raiders 2017 UDFA tracker: McKenzie adds safeties, mining for more gold

Raiders 2017 UDFA tracker: McKenzie adds safeties, mining for more gold

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have had great success mining gold from undrafted free agency. Jalen Richard and Darius Latham were kings of last year’s crop, which was six strong by season’s end. with Seth Roberts and Denico Autry other examples of undrafted free agents done good in recent years.

Can Raiders scouts find more helpful pieces from those left out of the NFL draft? Time will tell on that one, but finding the right undrafted players is something the team takes seriously. Scouts revel in undrafted players who make it in the league.

“It’s very rewarding,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “If we sign him as a free agent, we may have had him on the board as draftable, but getting guys post draft, that helps you down the road. To maintain a consistent winner, you have to hit on some of those guys. You have to. The way that the contracts are these days, you have to have some of those type players to help you win football games year in and year out.”

The Raiders will search for those players into Saturday evening to fill the 90-man roster. McKenzie secured some of his top targets with four seventh-round picks, though several more have signed with the club. Here’s a list of those who have signed with the team thus far:

-- OL Jordan Simmons, USC: The hulking offensive lineman signed with the Raiders, he announced on social media. Simmons stands 6-foot-5 and 335 pounds, and will turn pro after being denied a sixth year of college eligibility. The talented guard had an injury-riddled career.

-- WR Isaac Whitney, USC: Whitney is yet another undrafted Trojan to join the Raiders roster. He announced the signing on social media. He didn’t have many college stats, but is fast with the size the Raiders prefer in outside receivers.

-- WR Keon Hatcher, Arkansas: Hatcher will reportedly join the offseason receiver group in hopes of taking a roster spot. He had 44 catches for 743 yards and eight touchdowns in his final college season. (Houston Chronicle)

-- WR Ishmael Zamora, Baylor: The Bears official website reported that Zamora will sign with the Silver and Black. He had63 catches for 809 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016. He was suspended three games for abusing a dog in an incident that was caught on video. 

-- S Ahmad Thomas, Oklahoma: The Raiders need safety depth, so it was smart of Thomas to sign in Oakland. He was a three-year starter and a team captain. (Houston Chronicle)

-- S Anthony Cioffi, Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights’ official Twitter account reported a four-year starter in college will give the pros a try in Oakland.

-- DT Jordan Wade, Oklahoma: The 6-foot-4, 295-pound defensive tackle will join the Raiders. (SoonerScoop.com)

-- TE Pharaoh Brown, Oregon: The Ducks didn’t have a single player drafted, but Brown will join the Silver and Black. The tight end announced a signing on Twitter. He had 33 catches for 426 yards and five touchdown.

-- DT Paul Boyette, Texas: The Raiders continue adding volume at positions of need, including this 298-pound run stuffer. 

-- S Rickey Jefferson, LSU: Yet another safety joins the mix, according to LSU's football Twitter account. There will be a battle at that position all offseason as the Raiders try to sort out which players work best in their system. 

 

Check back for further updates...

Le'Veon Bell to Raiders? Oddsmakers like Jon Gruden and Co.'s chances

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USATSI

Le'Veon Bell to Raiders? Oddsmakers like Jon Gruden and Co.'s chances

Le’Veon Bell isn’t returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers this year. The running back didn't sign the franchise tag contract tender provided this offseason, and extending his contract holdout beyond Tuesday afternoon means he'll become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

According to an online sportsbook, the odds are great that he could become a Raider at that point.

The sports gambling website OddsShark, which takes its information from betonline.ag, an offshore sports gambling site that also houses an online casino, believes the Raiders have high odds of landing Bell this offseason. The Silver and Black have +500 odds to land Bell, according to the gambling website, second only to the New York Jets. The Jets have +300 odds to sign Bell this offseason.

This information isn't based on a report from any other publication covering the NFL, and there is no insight reported from any source about where Bell might sign.

Despite calls to betonline.ag by NBC Sports Bay Area, it remains uncertain how these odds were obtained.

The concept of Bell to the Raiders or the Jets was popularized Tuesday by the Twitter account @br_betting, which promoted odds of the Raiders being second in line to land the talented running back, who has missed the entire 2018 season while holding out for a long-term contract despite being given a franchise tag contract tender worth $14.544 million.

According to NFL rules, Bell had to report to the Steelers by Tuesday afternoon and sign the tag, or sit out the entire season. He chose to do the latter, but Bell will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Bell easily is one of the best professional running backs, with the tools to be considered a complete package. The Raiders are expected to have $83 million in salary-cap space entering that season, though that total will decrease after they sign players to reserves-futures contracts and earmark more money for the NFL draft pool.

[RELATED: Raiders in the driver's seat for No. 1 overall draft pick]

The Raiders chose to trade Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper over paying them in the near future, but they have plenty of money to spend should they try to go after a big-ticket player such as Bell.

It’s uncertain at this time whether the Raiders have any interest in Bell. Contacting him or his agent at this point, according to NFL rules, would be considered tampering.

Bell could be a perfect fit for Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s offensive scheme, though, considering his ability to catch passes out of the backfield and running with patience behind an offensive line.

Bell has gained at least 1,200 rushing yards in three of the last four seasons, and he has averaged 4.3 yards per carry over his six-year career. He had 1,291 rushing yards, 655 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns in 2017.

2019 NFL Draft: Raiders in driver's seat to secure No. 1 overall pick

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AP

2019 NFL Draft: Raiders in driver's seat to secure No. 1 overall pick

Well, the Raiders did their job.

They stunk yet again Sunday, ensuring they didn’t lose the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NFL draft. The 49ers did them a solid Monday night, allowing the New York Giants to hit two wins and keep the Silver and Black in firm possession of the top draft pick position.

Trading Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper netted two more first-round picks, putting the Raiders in prime position to rebuild an ailing roster. Here’s where their three first-round picks stand after 10 weeks of NFL action:

No. 1 overall (Last week: No. 1)
How it was earned: 
The Silver and Black are in the driver’s seat here, especially after the Giants beat the 49ers and left them as the NFL’s only one-win team. The 49ers still are hot on the Raiders’ trail for the top pick, but the Silver and Black can clinch if they just never, ever win a game this season. It might be an exercise in futility, but it would guarantee Jon Gruden gets the guy he really, really wants.

No. 14 overall (Last week: No. 11)
How it was earned: 
This pick took a dip due to the Cowboys showing some resilience. Beating the Eagles on Sunday night proves that Dallas still is in it and could move further down the draft order. The Raiders would hate that after trading Cooper to the Cowboys for their first-round pick. That stock dipped a bit, and Dallas losing would drive it back up.

No. 24 overall (Last week: No. 22)
How it was earned: 
This selection gets worse and worse with the Bears fighting not only for the NFC North title but for a home game in the NFC playoffs. The Raiders traded Mack for the Bears’ top pick in this draft, among other things, and aren’t getting much in return in 2019. Mack had two sacks Sunday to help drive this draft pick down, something the Raiders should’ve considered when they allowed his talent to help dictate how good the 2018 Bears would be.