Raiders

Raiders RB C.J. Anderson ready to showcase talent for hometown club

cjanderson.jpg
USATSI

Raiders RB C.J. Anderson ready to showcase talent for hometown club

ALAMEDA – C.J. Anderson acknowledged this wasn’t the first time he’d been inside the Raiders locker room. It wasn’t in the professional capacity it was Wednesday, less than 24 hours after he signed with the Silver and Black.

“Last time I was in here, Tim Brown and Bobby Brooks were holding (a football skills) camp,” Anderson said. “It feels good to have another opportunity to play football and do what I love to do.”

[RELATED: Raiders sign C.J. Anderson]

Anderson will enjoy where he gets to work over the next month at least. Anderson is Concord born and Vallejo-bred, a prep superstar who played some quality college football at Cal.

His mother is a huge Raiders fan, and Anderson was raised to love the Silver and Black.

“I grew up in the Coliseum,” Anderson said. “I came to a lot of games, screaming chants and all that. I know all about the history.”

He also quickly listed the players he followed closest as a kid.

“Charlie Garner was my favorite, when he moved from the 49ers over here,” Anderson said. “I like Napoleon Kauffman. I loved (Greg) Biekert. I love (Charles Woodson). I can go down the list.”

Anderson cut it short. He didn’t have all day. There’s significant acclimation going on right now, as he adjusts to Jon Gruden’s offseason with the possibility he’ll play some Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

That’s a quick transition -- one Anderson wants to make with just four games remains and so little work done this season. Carolina cut him on Nov. 12, ending a short tenure that didn’t pan out. He was supposed to compliment Christian McCaffrey, but the Stanford alum was too good to take off the field.

He carried the ball 24 times for 104 yards and had a 24-yard touchdown catch.

Anderson had some options, but ended up back home in the Bay Area.

“I went to Detroit. I went to Kansas City,” Anderson said. “I had some teams who were going to wait until the end of this week to see what they were going to do with me, including some playoff teams. But, when I sat back and thought about this opportunity, I thought it was a good one.”

Anderson believes he can get going quickly despite learning a new scheme while trying to prep for a game. He was brought in to help in case Doug Martin’s knee injury prevented him from playing Sunday, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

How or whether Anderson fits here in the short and long term remains to be seen. Anderson’s going to push to earn a job here or somewhere else next season.

“I’ve got four weeks to put my best foot forward and help this team win some games,” the 26-year old said. “That’s the No. 1 goal, right? I want to win and play good football for the next month that I have.”

NFL free agency: Why Le'Veon Bell to Raiders could be perfect signing

leveonus.jpg
USATSI

NFL free agency: Why Le'Veon Bell to Raiders could be perfect signing

Finally, Le'Veon Bell will get his wish and become a free agent

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert told local reporters the team will not place a franchise or transition tag on Bell this offseason. The two-time All-Pro running back sat out the entire 2018 season while in contract disputes with the team. 

"Le'Veon is still a great player," Colbert said. "We can't afford to use any other type of tags. Le'Veon will be an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year."

Bell appeared to be pretty happy about the decision.

Bell declined to sign a franchise tender last year, turning down $14.5 million as he held out the entire season. 

Now that he will be a free agent, Bell certainly won't remain a Steeler. Could he join the Raiders, though? 

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller thinks he could be a good fit.

Bell certainly does fit all three phases for the Raiders -- need, money and big name. Let's start with need. 

The Raiders' top two running backs from last season -- Doug Martin and Marshawn Lynch -- are both unrestricted free agents. Both are also over 30 years old, and have nowhere near Bell's talent. And the team's third-leading rusher, Jalen Richard, is a restricted free agent. 

When Bell, who just turned 27, last played in 2017, he rushed for 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns. The Raiders' trio previously mentioned combined for fewer than 100 more yards rushing in 2018. Plus, Bell is a threat as a receiver as well -- he has 2,660 career receiving yards, too. 

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

Secondly, the money. Bell wants to get paid, and the Raiders have the cash to do so. They will have roughly $81 million in salary cap space this offseason, with plenty of holes to fill on the roster. 

Lastly, the star power. The Raiders could certainly use and Bell certainly has it. Year 1 of Jon Gruden's return didn't go as planned.

To turn things around and kick off their move to Vegas in 2020, Bell could be the perfect player as the new face of their franchise. 

Why Mel Kiper Jr. considers Raiders NFL draft's 'most fascinating team'

Why Mel Kiper Jr. considers Raiders NFL draft's 'most fascinating team'

The Raiders have four of the first 35 overall picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, including three in the opening round. They have Jon Gruden making picks and Mike Mayock as his right hand, two respected football guys with TV experience.

Both guys know how to put on a show. That’s why longtime ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. considers the Raiders an interesting case study.

“It’s Jon and Mike working together,” Kiper said Tuesday in a conference call. “They have the three first-round picks. They have a chance with more next year. They have an opportunity to fill a lot of holes.”

Kiper’s latest first-round mock draft has the Raiders taking Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary at No. 4 overall, Washington cornerback Byron Murphy at No. 24, and Florida State edge rusher Brian Burns at No. 27.

That’s if the Raiders play it straight and use selections earned with a bad 2018 record, along with the Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper trades. That’s if the Raiders focus on defensive issues that could help the 2019 product more than anything else.

They could, however, ignore convention and be bold. That’s why Kiper puts the Raiders in the mix to trade for a mercurial veteran receiver or possibly draft a height-challenged quarterback with Derek Carr’s hefty paychecks still on the payroll.

[RELATED: Joe Flacco trade to Broncos could impact Raiders in 2019 NFL Draft]

“They have decisions to make, including with the Antonio Brown situation in Pittsburgh and them needing a receiver,” Kiper said. “They have the draft picks. Do they try and make a move there? Do they take (Oklahoma quarterback) Kyler Murray? Do they move Derek Carr or stick with him?

"Jon was always raving about quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson and the like. What’s his opinion of Kyler Murray in relation to Derek Carr? You talk about a fascinating player, and that’s Kyler Murray. You talk about the most fascinating team in this draft, for obvious reasons, it’s the Oakland Raiders.”