Raiders release Seth Roberts after overhauling wide receiver corps

Raiders release Seth Roberts after overhauling wide receiver corps

The Raiders have released receiver Seth Roberts, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday morning.

The transaction became official later in the day, roughly 24 hours after the Raiders signed veteran wide receiver Ryan Grant.

Roberts was set to make a $4.45 million base salary in 2019, the final season of a three-year contract extension signed under previous general manager Reggie McKenzie.

It creates $4.8 million in salary-cap space, though the Raiders had some wiggle room there.

The Raiders have undergone a complete receiver overhaul, with Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, J.J. Nelson and Grant coming aboard since last month. Jordy Nelson and Roberts have been shown the door, and Martavis Bryant and Brandon LaFell aren’t expected back, making Marcell Ateman the most productive 2018 receiver to remain with the club.

Roberts made his own way with the Raiders, earning a prominent role after joining the Silver and Black as a 2014 undrafted free agent. He was the team’s primary slot receiver from 2015-17, and while he was plagued by inconsistency, Roberts had several clutch catches. The Raiders were virtually unbeaten when Roberts scored a touchdown, and he caught several game winners himself.

That earned him a contract extension before the 2017 season that included guarantees in that year and the next, but the Raiders were allowed to release him this year without dead money attached.

[RELATED: Derek Carr raves about Raiders' new acquisitions]

Roberts wasn’t held in as high regard under coach Jon Gruden, but he still produced career highs with 45 catches for 484 yards last season. He had drop issues in 2016, but they improved in recent seasons, though his completion percentage when targeted was never sky high.

Roberts isn’t expected to be unemployed long, with size and experience that will be attractive to teams as offseason programs get going across the NFL.

Raiders OTA primer: Five questions entering important offseason phase

Raiders OTA primer: Five questions entering important offseason phase

The Raiders are progressing right through the offseason program, which starts its third and final phase on Tuesday when organized team activities formally begin. The first phase is all about conditioning and meetings. The second allows on-field workouts, without helmets or offense vs. defense work.

They can put it all together over the next four weeks. Well, almost. Players can put helmets on at least, but there’s no live contact over the course of 10 OTA practices and a mandatory minicamp in mid-June.

Units can go against each other these days, a vital part of learning/mastering Raiders schemes. And the competition for roster spots formally starts Monday. Nothing will be decided for months, but players can make an early impression on an organization looking for improved production in most spots. The 2019 Raiders really start coming together now.

Here are some key questions to keep an eye on throughout OTAs and minicamp:

Will veteran LBs flash old form?

Vontaze Burfict and Brandon Marshall know how to run a defensive front seven. Both guys have done so for the Bengals and Broncos, respectively, for several years. Injuries (and maybe age) have pushed them out of old markets and toward the Silver and Black, where they’re looking to restart careers representing new colors.

Recent past creates question marks about whether they can find old form and be three-down mainstays for a Raiders defense needing stability inside. Burfict’s intimate knowledge of Paul Guenther’s scheme while working with him Cincinnati should help tremendously. So should Burfict’s aggressive play inside.

Marshall’s a cerebral sort and a sure tackler capable of playing any linebacker spot.

Those guys could help a great deal. Keyword: could. Don’t forget the optimism surrounding Derrick Johnson last offseason, when spring promises of upgraded play were never met.

Marshall and Burfict will start fitting into this Raiders' defense during OTAs, and we’ll see how much spring remains in veteran steps. Both guys are working on one-year contracts but hope to remain for a longer term. They’ll have to prove themselves deserving in 2019 to stick around.

How will TE shakeup shake out?

The Raiders have mixed up their tight end position group this offseason, letting Jared Cook walk in free agency before cutting Lee Smith recently.

Darren Waller’s set for a big receiving role that he’ll have to earn in OTAs and training camp. He has all the speed and athleticism needed for success, but he must be reliable in the pattern to get targets in the passing game.

Fourth-round pick Foster Moreau will compete for a role, alongside Luke Willson and Derek Carrier. The group will look different, and those guys must step up and fill an important blocking role in the run game, especially. Competition for snaps should be fierce in that group. OTAs will give some a leg up heading into training camp.

Chemistry class in session?

Quarterback Derek Carr worked extensively with new receivers Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams at universities and even public parks trying to establish an early rapport with his new receivers. The offseason program has afforded regular opportunities to do so with them and other newbies Ryan Grant and J.J. Nelson and even fifth-round draft pick Hunter Renfrow.

Thus far, they’ve only worked against air. Adding coverage and defensive resistance will be a solid litmus test to see if the timing is in fact right. There’s no real worry even if not, considering how much time remains to get it right.

Will three first-rounders make a good OTA impression?

The Raiders used three first-round picks on guys who need pads to truly be evaluated. That’s especially true for defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell (No. 4 overall) and running back Josh Jacobs (No. 24), who won’t really be able to thump until training camp.

Athleticism and burst and elusiveness could be seen clearly in OTAs, where these guys could jump right into top units. Safety Johnathan Abram will be asked to cover and do a bit of everything, but he might be brought along initially behind Karl Joseph at strong safety. That doesn’t mean the hierarchy will remain, but it could ease Abram’s initial transition.

The Raiders are counting on all three first-rounders to make an immediate impact, and they’d like to hit the ground running and show positive flashes while learning the scheme.

[RELATED: AB posts cryptic tweet after Big Ben apology]

Who jumps out in cornerback rotation?

Gareon Conley seems set to start at one outside cornerback spot. Daryl Worley’s favored to start on the opposite end, with safety Lamarcus Joyner sliding into the slot when required. Veteran Nevin Lawson will have something to say about that. And the Raiders didn’t draft Trayon Mullen at No. 40 overall to sit around and play fourth fiddle.

Expect some competition from that position group during OTAs and beyond, as we find out who can excel playing the physical coverage style Guenther requires. Rashaan Melvin never figured it out, and had a rough 2018. There’s enough talent here that a slow start could hurt fighting for regular-season snaps, as we see how a premium position group fares against a loaded receiver corps that will start testing coverage ability immediately.

Antonio Brown posts cryptic tweet after Ben Roethlisberger apology

Antonio Brown posts cryptic tweet after Ben Roethlisberger apology

Sometimes you have to accept an apology you never received. That could have been Antonio Brown's mentality following a hindered relationship between him and his former quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. 

That may not be true, but if it was -- he has nothing to worry about now following Big Ben's recent, public apology.

The Steelers' signal caller talked it all out with Bob Pompeani of KDKA in Pittsburgh. It appeared he accepted full responsibility for his part in the broken relationship with his former wide receiver. Roethlisberger admitted he feels bad for the criticism he made of Brown when he claimed the wide receiver didn't read the coverage accurately during a game-ending turnover against the Broncos:

Brown appeared to have a reaction to Roethlisberger's comments:

And while we cannot confirm this tweet is 100 percent geared toward the situation, we do know that AB's relationship with Big Ben and the Steelers deteriorated around the same time erratic behavior ensued. This included skipping team meetings the last week of the season and not playing in a crucial  Week 17 game. Brown was soon thereafter traded to the Raiders for two NFL draft picks. 

[RELATED: Steelers use AB trade pick on wide receiver]

The apology from the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback appears to be genuine, but this "sorry," could be too little too late.