Raiders GM Mike Mayock says 'Derek Carr is a franchise quarterback'

Raiders GM Mike Mayock says 'Derek Carr is a franchise quarterback'

INDIANAPOLIS -- Mike Mayock has been asked about quarterback Derek Carr several times since becoming Raiders general manager. Carr came up six times alone during Mayock’s press availability Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Some were repeated in separate interview sessions, but all sought to determine whether Carr was the long-term solution behind center. Mayock didn’t sign Carr to a $125 million contract extension in 2016. Neither did head coach/personnel authority Jon Gruden.

The previous regime did that, leaving many to wonder whether Carr will stick around in silver and black long term despite another strong statistical 2018 season, his first working in Gruden’s system.

The Raiders have been attached to Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray -- count the whole league intrigued by this prospect -- and other passers available in this draft.

Mayock made his opinion of Carr crystal clear in his answer to one of many quarterback questions.

“I think Derek Carr is a franchise quarterback. I truly believe that,” Mayock said. “Now, do I also believe it’s a general manager’s and head coach’s job to keep their eyes open to improve any position on a football team? Sure. But I think it’s really difficult to try and improve over a franchise quarterback like the one we have in our building right now.”

Mayock left the door open a crack regarding other quarterbacks, which will prompt headlines saying he wouldn’t rule it out. NFL GMs never rule anything out this time of year. Doing so does no good heading into free agency and the draft.

Gruden and Mayock are confident in Carr. That much is clear. Carr also has more to prove, after some struggles the past two seasons. The front office also must help him out by upgrading positions around him.

“Everyone talks about (his 2016 season), but it has been two hard years since then,” Mayock said. “There have been some injuries up front and breakdowns in protection. He has gotten beat up, and I think there’s a tendency, just about with any QB in the league, bad habits occur.

"I don’t care if you’re talking about Eli Manning, who won two Super Bowls. When he got beat up, bad things happen. When it comes to Derek you have to evaluate what he had around him, from his protection to dynamic weapons, and go from there. I know the talent’s there, and I believe in the kid.”

Mayock praised the entire position group, including backup AJ McCarron. The former Alabama quarterback has a $3 million roster bonus coming on March 15, and his base salary becomes guaranteed on March 17. Mayock considered it a luxury to have McCarron, though there’s still no guarantee he’ll be around, especially on that particular pay structure.

[RELATED: Mayock explains what he's looking for in free agency]

Nathan Peterman also is on the team after signing a reserve-futures contract after he spent the end of last year on the practice squad. 

The possibility of drafting a quarterback remains, though, like Gruden has with praise before, Mayock tried to emphasize that the Raiders have faith in their high-priced quarterback.

Changes a 'necessary evil' after terrible play during Raiders losing streak


Changes a 'necessary evil' after terrible play during Raiders losing streak

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have been blown out in three straight games. The latest rout came Sunday in a 42-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans. The first two happened on the road, with great distance from home. This one happened here in the East Bay, the second-to-last time the Raiders will play in Oakland.

That means something to head coach Jon Gruden, who doesn’t want the fire to go out in Oakland without the Raiders making a final stand. The Raiders have one more chance to impress here next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Gruden vowed to turn over every rock to get better than what was given against the Titans.

That’s especially true of a defense that allowed 35 points – the other seven came on a fumble returned for a touchdown – and an incredible 552 yards to the Ryan Tannehill-led Titans.

Coverage was poor. The pass rush was bad. Tackling was subpar. Those facts have flown below radar, with all ire aimed at quarterback Derek Carr and his decision to throw it away on 4th-and-goal from the 1.

Poor defense is a major problem, though yards allowed have been an issue most of the season. Opportunistic and clutch play got the defense by in victories but has been absent in defeat. Against the Titans, that unit may have reached a new low.

“It’s like getting punched in the stomach. It knocks some wind out of you,” Gruden said. “Anytime a team takes the ball the length of the field that many times, it’s hard to do in this league. We’ve done a pretty good this year offensively of sustaining some long 80-yard drives, but sometimes you got to win the game of field position, you’ve got to force a three-and-out. We weren’t able to do that yesterday from the jump and very, very concerned about it and we’re going to make some changes. We’re going to get it right.”

One problem: there aren’t many changes left to make. It’s hard to imagine promoted practice-squad players making a difference. There’s enough depth to make some changes at linebacker. We’ve seen snaps dwindle from certain defensive linemen. The secondary could get shaken up a little bit. All that, however, might be shuffling deck chairs on a sinking ship.

That won’t stop Gruden from trying. He refuses to wave a white flag on the season, even if better options aren’t crystal clear.

“[Recent play] is sickening. [Changes are] tough, but it’s a necessary evil,” Gruden said. “Right now, we’ve got to play better, and we’re going to play better, and there will be changes. There will be changes. What happened yesterday will not happen again. I can’t allow it to happen.”

Josh Jacobs, Trent Brown could possibly return to Raiders this season

Josh Jacobs, Trent Brown could possibly return to Raiders this season

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders aren’t playing for the playoffs anymore. Postseason dreams were essentially dashed by Sunday’s 42-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

The Raiders have a snowball’s chance in a well-stoked campfire of making the postseason, but that doesn’t mean coach Jon Gruden’s going to shut everything down and go into evaluation mode. That won’t be the case after three blowout loss, especially with the last game in Oakland coming up Sunday against Jacksonville.

That’s why he won’t rule out a possible return for injured stars Josh Jacobs (fractured shoulder) and Trent Brown (pectoral strain). Shutting them down would eliminate the prospect of injury aggravation, but Gruden kept the possibility of a return starting against the Jaguars.

“We’re going to try to win this game. Absolutely,” Gruden said. “We’re never going to put a guy out there that can’t play, but we’re going into the last game in the history of the Oakland Raiders and it’s an emotional time. We’re going to try to win the game. We’re not eliminated from the playoffs and we’re going to try to win every single time we strap it on.”

Jacobs and Brown are the team’s best offensive players regardless of position -- Rodney Hudson might be in that group as well -- and certainly increase the odds of winning an emotional game that will close out the Raiders’ playing days at Oakland Coliseum. They relocate to Las Vegas before the 2020 season.

Jacobs made an impassioned plea to play the Titans. He even took a painkilling injection to prepare for play, but the Raiders ruled him out nonetheless.

“He sat in my coach’s office. He wanted to play, and he got really emotional about not playing,” Gruden said. “He doesn’t want to let his teammates down. I don’t know where he’s going to be this week, but if he’s ready to go and he’s cleared to play, he’ll play. He’s a great back and a great centerpiece for our team moving forward.”

Brown has been playing through one injury or another most of the year, but this latest ailment prevented him from going against the Titans. Repairing a torn pectoral muscle can involve extensive rehab he and the Raiders would certainly like to avoid.

[RELATED: Carr, Raiders know 'nobody cares' about cause of fatal skid]

Brandon Parker, one of last year’s third-round draft picks, stepped in for Brown and was okay save an ill-timed holding call. He wasn’t a dead weight up front, which might help the team continue if Brown remains unavailable.

“He did good,” Gruden said. “I was really pleased with the line. I mean our offensive line played a good game yesterday. Parker had a holding call, a costly one, on third down that nullified a potential first down, but other than that he played good football.”