Raiders 'bummed' about Gareon Conley trade, wish him best with Texans

Raiders 'bummed' about Gareon Conley trade, wish him best with Texans

ALAMEDA -- Daryl Worley has been traded before. By the team that drafted him, no less. It doesn’t feel great. The cornerback got shipped from Carolina to Philly, and eventually landed with the Raiders after a run-in with the law cost him a shot with his hometown Eagles.

The veteran cornerback understands the business side of the NFL. That didn’t change his reaction to the Raiders trading Gareon Conley to the Houston Texans for a third-round pick on Monday.

Worley and Conley are tight, and even were roommates during this year’s offseason program. They played opposite cornerback spots since the start of last season and formed a strong friendship and working relationship.

Worley was definitely bummed to see Conley go.

“This hits close to home but, because we’re good friends, it hits in a different sense,” Worley said after Wednesday’s Raiders practice. “I know the NFL is a business as much as anyone because I’ve been through what he’s going through now. I’ve been there before. But at the same time, Gareon’s a great player and he’s going to make plays over there.”

He could make plays against his old team right away. The Raiders play Conley and the Texans on Sunday at NRG Stadium. Houston head coach Bill O’Brien said Tuesday in a conference call that Conley will play Sunday, setting up an oddity that will set good friends up on opposite sidelines so soon after the trade.

“It should be fun,” Worley said.

The Texans might have some inside info, with Conley knowing former teammates' tendencies and Raiders' schemes so well. O’Brien downplayed the impact Conley could have giving away the Raiders' trade secrets -- let’s be real, they’re going to pepper him for info -- saying Conley will be more focused on quickly learning a new system.

“I don’t think there is that much of an advantage because I think that Gareon is coming in here and is going to have to learn what we do,” O’Brien said. “Kind of how our scheme works, how we meet, how we walk through, just kind of how we do things and there’s not going to be a lot of time for anything other than that. I don’t think you can read too much into it. It’s pro football, that’s the way things work sometimes. Sometimes you make a trade and you end up playing that team the very next week.”

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The Raiders would rather have not traded Conley to their next opponent, but Houston put the best offer on the table. That sets up a strange meeting on Sunday, for sure.

“If we have to, we’ll throw at him,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “I love Gareon. I really enjoyed our time together. There’s no state tax in Houston. He’ll really enjoy that. … There’s not bad blood or going at anybody. He’s just on their team now. He’s a really good football player and a good friend. I wish him the best, except this week.”

Ranking Raiders' top 20 defensive players heading into 2020 NFL Draft

Ranking Raiders' top 20 defensive players heading into 2020 NFL Draft

The Raiders spent big in free agency and focused on the defense.

They added two, three-down linebackers in Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski. They bolstered their interior line with Maliek Collins, a powerful nose tackle who thrives at beating double teams. In comes edge rusher Carl Nassib, replacing Benson Mayowa as a key pass-rushing rotational piece. After the Eli Apple contract fell through, the Raiders signed Damarious Randall, a versatile defensive back who began his career at corner before moving to safety with the Cleveland Browns.

Those additions are expected to pair well with returning youngsters Maxx Crosby, Trayvon Mullen, Clelin Ferrell and Johnathan Abram to create a defense that should, in theory, be a lot better than the unit that was decimated by injuries, fatigue and an overall lack of talent last season.

To be sure, the Raiders still need help in the secondary and that should come early in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. But for now, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther's unit is much better than it was a season ago.

Let's rank the top 20 Raiders defensive players after free agency. I'm sure you'll have issues and concerns with this list and that's more than fine. Let's debate.


Damarious Randall, Raiders agree to terms after Eli Apple pact dissolves


Damarious Randall, Raiders agree to terms after Eli Apple pact dissolves

The Raiders fell into some unexpected salary-cap space Thursday when their deal with Eli Apple dissolved. They wasted no time putting it to use.

They kept the investment in the secondary, agreeing on terms of a contract with defensive back Damarious Randall on Thursday night. That news comes via ESPN’s Josina Anderson, who said Randall texted her directly with news of the deal. Randall has agreed to sign a one-year contract worth up to $3.25 million, per a league source. 

The 27-year old played free safety his last two years with the Cleveland Browns and cornerback the previous three with the Green Bay Packers.

Randall could pair with Johnathan Abram at safety or play outside cornerback, if that’s what is required. The Raiders have needs at both spots.

Randall and Abram seem like an ideal mix at safety, though the Raiders desperately need a starting outside cornerback opposite Trayvon Mullen. That position could get filled with remaining funds in free agency or with one of two first-round NFL draft picks.

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The 27-year-old Randall’s a proven commodity, with 16 interceptions in five NFL seasons. He didn’t have a pick last year but had four in every season before that.

Randall was traded from Green Bay to Cleveland before the 2018 season and was solid in coverage with the Browns. He was awesome in 2018, with four interceptions, five passes defensed and he allowed just a 68.8 passer rating when targeted.

The Raiders' secondary is better with Randall than it would’ve been with Apple in the mix, so this should be considered a win for the Silver and Black after a strange and unexpected turn of events.

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Las Vegas has three solid pieces of its secondary with Randall, Abram and Mullen. Lamarcus Joyner is expected to man the slot again in 2020, with just one more void left to fill.

The Raiders have upgraded several defensive positions, including some at every level of the unit. The team should be significantly better on that side of the ball, especially if they hit on a defensive player high in the draft.