Raiders

Raiders hope to execute extension master plan 'in the correct timing'

Raiders hope to execute extension master plan 'in the correct timing'

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie prefers to draft, develop and eventually reward homegrown players. After dismantling a disjointed roster, getting right with the salary cap and drafting quality, he’s finally able to do that.

McKenzie didn’t wade into new waters. He jumped right in, with a cannonball. McKenzie allocated up to $181 million on two guys in a week’s time, unafraid to spend big on players he knows and trusts. It was the first phase of a master a master plan designed to keep a talented young core together.

McKenzie gave franchise quarterback Derek Carr a five-year, $125 million contract extension, a massive market-value sum for that position. Gabe Jackson signed a five-year deal worth $56 million seven days later.

The Raiders hope to extend Khalil Mack next offseason, and Amari Cooper a year after that. The team wants them appropriately spaced to optimize cash flow and mix elite deals with middle class contracts, a delicate balance required to remain competitive.

The Raiders wanted Carr and Jackson done right away, to prevent valued talent from entering contract years. The Raiders asked Carr to defer some payments to help keep the Raiders on schedule. The 26-year old complied.

“The bottom line is we’re able to continue to move forward with it, keep all the players that we need to keep in the correct timing,” McKenzie said after Carr signed his contract. “This affords us to do that. We’re going to start on that ASAP.”

McKenzie wasn’t kidding. He went right to work on Gabe Jackson, and locked his right guard down posthaste.

The master plan won’t always operate at that pace, even with Mack eligible for an extension despite receiving a fifth-year option that puts his contract two years away from expiration. As McKenzie said, it’s all about “correct timing.”

Carr gave the Raiders financial flexibility to also get Jackson done now. They had $33 million in salary cap space before the Carr deal, and roughly $18 million apple after. It remains uncertain how much of a bite Jackson took, and some will go to yet unsigned draft picks Gareon Conley, Obi Melifonwu and Eddie Vanderdoes.

The Raiders have more financial flexibility next offseason, when Khalil Mack’s massive extension will take center stage. Mario Edwards Jr. might play himself into extension-worth graces if he can produce and stay healthy. Amari Cooper could command big dollars a season later.

Mack would be the third member of the 2014 draft class to get extended. That group helped turn the franchise around after a rough start, a fact that binds the group together.

“Sometimes during the season we’ll reflect on our rookie year, when we were 0-10 and really struggling,” Jackson said. “There’s a real appreciation for where we are. We know what it’s like to lose, and now we know how good it feels to win. It’s great, and we want to keep this good thing going.”

That isn’t all on players and coaches. The front office obviously plays a huge part. They can’t let top homegrown talent walk, and must continue drafting well when tighter budgets prevent McKenzie from keeping everyone.

He will pay big for his own guys, which is a message received by the Raiders locker room.

“I always say that if you live good and live clean outside of football, if you work your butt off and take care of business, people around here appreciate it,” Jackson said. “They may not say it all the time, but people pay attention to how you carry yourself and how you work on the field. That doesn’t go unrecognized.”

Tom Flores 'pleasantly surprised' to be Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist

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AP

Tom Flores 'pleasantly surprised' to be Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist

The Pro Football Hall of Fame whittles its nominees from triple digits down to 25 this time every year.

Former Raiders coach Tom Flores is almost always on the big list. He had never been a semifinalist despite leading the Silver and Black to two Super Bowls as the head coach, winning another as an assistant and playing on an AFL title team in 1967.

The lack of advancement baffles many who believe Flores should be enshrined in Canton, Ohio. Flores previously admitted frustration with the process, but never lost hope that one day he would progress further down the selection process.

The time came Tuesday, when Flores was among the list of 25 modern-era semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The news produced an honest reaction from the 81-year-old former coach and quarterback. 

“It put a smile on my face and tears in my eyes,” Flores told NBC Sports California Tuesday evening. 

It brought a renewed optimism that he could advance farther, and finally be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Flores isn’t getting ahead of himself, but he is excited about Tuesday’s development.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Flores said. “… I wasn’t really anticipating it. I always keep my fingers crossed, and this time it finally happened reaching this level. Now we’ll have to wait another month to see about the finals, and if that happens it’ll really be exciting.”

[RELATED: Raiders' trio of first-round picks take tumble in Week 11]

The list of 15 finalists will be announced in January. Flores hopes advancing this far can spark some momentum to enshrinement.

“I’m hoping that this is the catalyst to reaching the final 15,” Flores said. “There’s one more vote to hit that mark, and then once you get there you’re chances really improve. I’ve never been this far, so the chances are already up. I’m excited about it. I’m thrilled and honored about it, and all of the above. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. That’s all I can do.”

Ex-Raiders coach Tom Flores a semifinalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame

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AP

Ex-Raiders coach Tom Flores a semifinalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame

Tom Flores, who coached the Raiders to two Super Bowl championships, was announced Tuesday as a modern-era semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019.

Flores also won championship rings as a backup quarterback with the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl IV, and as an assistant coach under John Madden with the Raiders in Super Bowl XI.

Flores compiled a record of 83-53 in nine seasons with the Raiders, and was the first Latino head coach in NFL history. The Raiders won Super Bowls XV and XVIII under his guidance.

His final season as an NFL head coach was in 1994 with the Seattle Seahawks. Flores advanced to the final 25 for the first time in the Hall of Fame process. A group of 102 nominees was announced in September.

Flores is a polarizing candidate, with a passionate supporters group and others who believe his entire body of work is lacking consistency required for a gold jacket. Reaching this stage is a step forward for Flores, who is as pivotal as anyone outside Al Davis in guiding the Raiders through a golden area. 

To be eligible for election to the Hall of Fame, a nominated player or coach must not have participated as an active player or coach for five consecutive seasons.

Flores, 81, and former Miami linebacker Zach Thomas are the only previously eligible individuals who were voted as semifinalists for the first time. Thomas' career ended in 2008.

The final 25 includes three first-year eligible players: Cornerback Champ Bailey, tight end Tony Gonzalez and safety Ed Reed.

Former Tampa Bay and Denver safety John Lynch, in his second year as 49ers general manager, was announced as a semi-finalist for the seventh consecutive year. Lynch, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, has made it to the final 15 five times.

Wide receiver Isaac Bruce is the only other semifinalist with 49ers ties. Bruce ended his career with the 49ers in 2009. He made four Pro Bowls during his 14 seasons with the Rams. Bruce ranks fifth all-time with 15,208 receiving yards.

Defensive lineman Richard Seymour, a seven-time Pro Bowl performer, is the only other semifinalist who played for the Raiders. After eight seasons with the New England Patriots, Seymour played his final four years with the Raiders. He is a semifinalist for the second time.

Running back Ricky Watters, QB Jeff Garcia, and defensive lineman Bryant Young were among the nominees with 49ers ties who did not become semifinalists. Former Raiders cornerback Albert Lewis, guard Steve Wisniewski, and cornerback Eric Allen also missed the cut. 

The list of semifinalists will be reduced to 15 modern-era finalists on Jan. 3. Those 15 individuals, along with senior finalist Johnny Robinson and contributor finalists Gil Brandt and Pat Bowlen, will advance to the final stage on the eve of Super Bowl.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame bylaws stipulate that from four to eight new members will be selected each year. No more than five modern-era finalists can be elected in a given year.

Following is an alphabetical list of the 25 semifinalists, along with number of times each individual has been selected as a semifinalist:

Steve Atwater, S – 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets | (Times as a Semifinalist: 8 – 2012-19)
Champ Bailey, CB – 1999-2003 Washington Redskins, 2004-2013 Denver Broncos | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2019)
Ronde Barber, CB/S – 1997-2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2018-19)
Tony Boselli, T – 1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2002 Houston Texans (injured reserve) | (Times as a Semifinalist: 4 – 2016-19)
Isaac Bruce, WR – 1994-2007 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 2008-09 San Francisco 49ers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2015-19)
LeRoy Butler, S – 1990-2001 Green Bay Packers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2018-19)
Don Coryell, Coach – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 11 – 2005, 2010-19)
Alan Faneca, G – 1998-2007 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2008-09 New York Jets, 2010 Arizona Cardinals | (Times as a Semifinalist: 4 – 2016-19)
Tom Flores, Coach – 1979-1987 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-94 Seattle Seahawks | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2019)
Tony Gonzalez, TE – 1997-2008 Kansas City Chiefs, 2009-2013 Atlanta Falcons | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2019)
Torry Holt, WR – 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2015-19)
Steve Hutchinson, G – 2001-05 Seattle Seahawks, 2006-2011 Minnesota Vikings, 2012 Tennessee Titans | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2018-19)
Edgerrin James, RB – 1999-2005 Indianapolis Colts, 2006-08 Arizona Cardinals, 2009 Seattle Seahawks | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2015-19)
Jimmy Johnson, Coach – 1989-1993 Dallas Cowboys, 1996-99 Miami Dolphins | (Times as a Semifinalist: 6 – 2014-19)
Ty Law, CB – 1995-2004 New England Patriots, 2005, 2008 New York Jets, 2006-07 Kansas City Chiefs, 2009 Denver Broncos | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2015-19)
John Lynch, FS – 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos | (Times as a Semifinalist: 7 – 2013-19)
Clay Matthews, LB – 1978-1993 Cleveland Browns, 1994-96 Atlanta Falcons | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2012, 2017, 2019)
Kevin Mawae, C/G – 1994-97 Seattle Seahawks, 1998-2005 New York Jets, 2006-09 Tennessee Titans | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2015-19)
Karl Mecklenburg, LB – 1983-1994 Denver Broncos | (Times as a Semifinalist: 8 – 2012-19)
Sam Mills, LB – 1986-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-97 Carolina Panthers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2016, 2019)
Ed Reed, FS – 2002-2012 Baltimore Ravens, 2013 New York Jets, 2013 Houston Texans | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2019)
Richard Seymour, DE/DT – 2001-08 New England Patriots, 2009-2012 Oakland Raiders | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2018-2019)
Zach Thomas, LB – 1996-2007 Miami Dolphins, 2008 Dallas Cowboys | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2019)
Hines Ward, WR – 1998-2011 Pittsburgh Steelers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2017-19)
Darren Woodson, S – 1992-2003 Dallas Cowboys | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2015, 2017, 2019)

Editor’s note: Matt Maiocco is on the 48-member Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors.