Raiders coaches slap stickers on standouts during Senior Bowl victory


Raiders coaches slap stickers on standouts during Senior Bowl victory

Daniel Jones extended his arm for a handoff, but pulled it back at the last moment. The Duke quarterback was going right but rolled back left, fooling enough defenders to forge an easy path to the end zone.

It capped a 10-play, 84-yard drive and scored the North squad’s first touchdown during Saturday afternoon’s Senior Bowl.

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden was waiting for Jones near the sideline, ready to slap the iconic silver and black shield on his helmet.

Jones wasn’t the only one with a Raiders sticker after a 34-24 victory in the annual college all-star game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.

Several NFL draft prospects earned one from the Raiders coaching staff, which led the North squad all week. Some guys -- including Delaware safety Nasir Adderley, UC Davis receiver Keelan Doss, UMass receiver Andy Isabella and Texas edge rusher Charles Omenihu -- got two.

That was an easy way to see which players left a good impression on Raiders coaches in this game, typically deemed less important than the practices leading up to it.

Gruden still thinks the game holds value. Here’s why:

“It will weigh in because it’s full-speed live,” Gruden said Thursday, the last full practice of the week. “When you’re live, that’s the only evaluation that we’re lacking. You can run all the controlled environments you want, but the best evaluation comes in games.”

That’s especially true for running backs, who have easier paths through practice without going to the ground. Notre Dame’s Dexter Williams followed up an excellent week with a solid game effort that included a touchdown run, which is what scouts want to see.

The aforementioned players were solid. South defensive lineman Kingsley Keke of Texas A&M was all over the place early on, and end Jaylon Ferguson got to the quarterback a few times. Mississippi State end Montez Sweat flashed his athleticism on occasion. Both offensive lines had solid moments as well.

[RELATED: Raiders keeping close eye on edge rushers at Senior Bowl]

Jones was the best North squad quarterback, and Adderley had an excellent game including an interception late. 

Scouts will break down Senior Bowl practice and game tape time and again in the coming weeks and months leading up to the NFL draft, trying to find players who can help after turning pro.

That includes the Raiders, who leave with great knowledge of every prospect who played in this game.

“Everybody will tell you they look at the Senior Bowl practice tape, the Senior Bowl game film over and over and over,” Gruden said earlier this week. “You watch the matchups over and over and over.

“I remember doing it with [late Raiders owner/GM Al Davis]. He would put the Senior Bowl on for the 44th time and I would say, ‘how many more times are we going to watch that game?’ There’s tremendous value in it. It’s a great tool, and provides great matchups you would never see if you didn’t come here.”

Why Antonio Brown might hate Patriots as he did Raiders after release


Why Antonio Brown might hate Patriots as he did Raiders after release

Antonio Brown famously celebrated when the Raiders released him two weeks ago, shouting he was “free” of a team he believed had wronged him by voiding $29.125 million in contract guarantees over a reported run-in with general manager Mike Mayock.

Brown was released again Friday, when the Patriots decided enough was enough, but the wide receiver was much kinder to Bill Belichick and Co. in the aftermath. He tweeted a thank-you message to Belichick, and his appreciative Instagram post to Tom Brady even drew a three-hearts response from the quarterback.

All love likely will be lost, however, if the Patriots follow the Raiders’ lead and try to void the money it once guaranteed Brown. And, as ESPN’s Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler pointed out, that’s quite possible.

When Brown joined the Patriots, he received a $1 million fully guaranteed salary and a $9 million signing bonus. By ESPN’s calculation, Brown was paid $158,333 in salary and roster bonuses by the Patriots, who now can argue that the personal-conduct nature of his release allows them to void the remaining $850,000 or so in guaranteed money. It’s the same argument the Raiders made when they wiped Brown’s guarantees off their books, which angered the receiver.

Now, here’s where the Patriots likely went wrong and the Raiders did not (yes, you read that correctly).

ESPN reported that Oakland, unlike New England, did not include signing-bonus money in Brown’s contract. And while the Patriots haven’t yet paid the receiver the first installment of his bonus — that’s due Monday, for $5 million — a league source told ESPN “the team's way out of it is through a representation warranty clause that says it's a breach of contract if Brown didn't disclose an existing situation that would have prevented his continued availability” — like his former trainer’s sexual-assault lawsuit against him, or the other allegations that since have been revealed.

If the Patriots refuse to pay Brown his signing-bonus money next week and the remaining $4 million on Jan. 15, the NFL Players Association surely will back the receiver. A source told ESPN that the union sees signing bonuses as "money earned” — no matter when payments are scheduled — and NFL contract language makes it even more complicated to void a guaranteed signing bonus.

So, if the Patriots come for that $9 million, they can expect Brown and the union to file a grievance — and to have a strong case. The NFLPA also doesn’t want to allow teams to escape lucrative signing bonuses promised to players, so it would fight hard for Brown.

[RELATED: AB's departure shows true nature of 'The Patriot Way']

The Raiders, meanwhile, are on much stronger footing, with Brown’s documented personal-conduct issues and no signing bonus in his now-voided contract. Their focus is on Sunday’s road game against the Minnesota Vikings, not a messy money fight, like what might now await the Patriots.

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NFL issues statement on ex-Raider Antonio Brown's status after release

NFL issues statement on ex-Raider Antonio Brown's status after release

We have yet another chapter in the seemingly never-ending Antonio Brown saga.

The NFL released a statement Friday night updating the league’s position on the former Raiders wide receiver’s recent conduct.

The most interesting note here is that due to Brown’s status as an unrestricted free agent, the league cannot place him on the commissioner’s exempt list, which would essentially place AB on paid leave from the NFL until the league is through with its investigating.

“As long as Mr. Brown is a free agent, placement on the commissioner’s exempt list is not appropriate," a league spokesperson wrote. "If he is signed by a club, such placement may become appropriate at any time depending on the status of the investigation.”

Brown was released by the New England Patriots on Friday, just 11 days after the team signed the embattled receiver following a very public war of words with the Raiders and the team’s front office. 

AB has also been accused by multiple women of sexual assault in recent weeks, including in a federal lawsuit filed by his former trainer, Britney Taylor.

A Sports Illustrated article published this week highlighted the other allegation -- from a former artist of Brown’s -- who he reportedly sent threatening messages to after the allegations surfaced.

[RELATED: Antonio Brown's swift release highlights true nature of 'Patriot Way']

For now, Brown remains in the free agency pool with hundreds of other players hoping to sign with an NFL team. 

As the negative headlines continue to stack up, it’s looking increasingly likely that AB has used up all of his goodwill in finding a new employer.