Raiders

Raiders shocked, searching for answers after yet another ugly loss

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USATSI

Raiders shocked, searching for answers after yet another ugly loss

OAKLAND -- In the NFL, things can turn in an instance. 

Three weeks ago, the Raiders were the darlings of the NFL, having used a three-game winning streak to catapult themselves into the AFC playoff picture. They were headed on the road to face a Jets team that has a myriad of issues. A 7-4 record and a date with the Chiefs to decide the AFC West was in their sites. 

Things didn't go according to plan. 

The Raiders were ripped limb from limb by the Jets, and then headed to Kansas City where the Chiefs bullied them all around a freezing Arrowhead Stadium to drop Oakland to 6-6. 

So the Raiders returned home, needing a win Sunday against the Titans to stop the bleeding and keep realistic playoff dreams alive. Instead, the Raiders were torched by Ryan Tannehill as the Titans strolled to a 42-21 win at the Coliseum. 

A third straight dud has left the Raiders stunned and searching for answers. 

"That's how things happen in this league," guard Richie Incognito said. "We got home after the big road test, we got the three in a row, in my opinion, we probably weren't playing our best ball during that three-week stretch but we were winning. Then we take the trip over to New York and get exposed, went to Kansas City and they jumped on us and then today. I'm pretty shocked that we are in this position." 

The losses have been deflating and embarrassing. It hasn't been death by 1,000 cuts, but three gigantic gashes that have left the Raiders bleeding out hoping for a miracle to snag an AFC playoff spot that appeared to be theirs three weeks ago. 

The Raiders are banged up and missing bodies. Of that, there is no doubt. Josh Jacobs didn't play Sunday and neither did right tackle Trent Brown. Starting safeties Johnathan Abram and Karl Joseph are done for the season. Middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict hasn't been allowed out of the principal's office since a Week 4 hit against the Colts that the NFL deemed a season-ender.

Eventually, it's too much to overcome. It's too much to ask guys who just came in off the street to be meaningful contributors to a playoff run. 

But no one wants to hear excuses. 

"It comes with the territory," linebacker Tahir Whitehead said of the injuries. "It comes with the game. We've had a lot of adversity this season, but you have to go in there with that next man mentality. No matter what. No one cares what you have to go through during the week. No one cares how many injuries and as much as it matters as far as getting guys ready ... no one gives a s--t."

A once-promising season has been nuked by a non-competitive streak that has seen the Raiders outscored 116-33 and look helpless in the process. The defense has been dissected every way possible and the offense has lacked a punch that would strike fear into any creature with even a faint pulse. 

[RELATED: Jacobs 'in tears' when Raiders made him inactive vs. Titans]

The Raiders might be searching for answers, but they are unlikely to find any that will appease their desperate minds. 

There will be no magic elixir to save the Raiders from the disappointing reality of letting a golden playoff opportunity slip away. 

Coach Jon Gruden can't scheme the Raiders healthy or make them more talented. They simply are what they are. 

But no one wants to hear excuses for laying an egg with the season on the line. That's inexcusable.

Damarious Randall, Raiders agree to terms after Eli Apple pact dissolves

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AP

Damarious Randall, Raiders agree to terms after Eli Apple pact dissolves

The Raiders fell into some unexpected salary-cap space Thursday when their deal with Eli Apple dissolved. They wasted no time putting it to use.

They kept the investment in the secondary, agreeing on terms of a contract with defensive back Damarious Randall on Thursday night. That news comes via ESPN’s Josina Anderson, who said Randall texted her directly with news of the deal.

The 27-year old played free safety his last two years with the Cleveland Browns and cornerback the previous three with the Green Bay Packers.

Randall could pair with Johnathan Abram at safety or play outside cornerback, if that’s what is required. The Raiders have needs at both spots.

Randall and Abram seem like an ideal mix at safety, though the Raiders desperately need a starting outside cornerback opposite Trayvon Mullen. That position could get filled with remaining funds in free agency or with one of two first-round NFL draft picks.

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The 27-year-old Randall’s a proven commodity, with 16 interceptions in five NFL seasons. He didn’t have a pick last year but had four in every season before that.

Randall was traded from Green Bay to Cleveland before the 2018 season and was solid in coverage with the Browns. He was awesome in 2018, with four interceptions, five passes defensed and he allowed just a 68.8 passer rating when targeted.

The Raiders' secondary is better with Randall than it would’ve been with Apple in the mix, so this should be considered a win for the Silver and Black after a strange and unexpected turn of events.

[RELATED: McKinney headlines top DB prospects for Raiders to target]

Las Vegas has three solid pieces of its secondary with Randall, Abram and Mullen. Lamarcus Joyner is expected to man the slot again in 2020, with just one more void left to fill.

The Raiders have upgraded several defensive positions, including some at every level of the unit. The team should be significantly better on that side of the ball, especially if they hit on a defensive player high in the draft.

Source: Eli Apple, Raiders don't finalize contract in free agency

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USATSI

Source: Eli Apple, Raiders don't finalize contract in free agency

The Raiders agreed in principle on terms of a one-year deal with Eli Apple last month. It was worth $6 million, bringing the former first-round pick into the Silver and Black’s defensive backfield.

A league source with direct knowledge of the deal confirmed the agreement on March 18, but the deal never came across the transaction wire as many other Raiders additions had. Turns out there was a good reason for that.

The deal was never finalized, and now it never will be. The pact has been dissolved, a league source confirmed Thursday, making Apple an unrestricted free agent once again. ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the news. An inabilty to get a physical was at issue, though it's uncertain at this time if a deadline was missed. 

The money earmarked for Apple is now Raiders' salary-cap space moving forward, leaving roughly $11 million remaining at this stage. The Silver and Black need $9.4 million to sign their draft picks as currently slotted, per Over the Cap.

Apple was set to be an option to start at outside cornerback opposite Travyon Mullen, thought he didn’t eliminate the team’s need at the position. The Raiders were expected to add one in the draft, quite possibly in the first round.

[RELATED: Why Nick Kwiatkoski thought Raiders were 'best fit' in NFL free agency]

That could certainly happen now, and as early as No. 12 overall, as the Silver and Black look for a plug-and-play option from the college ranks.

There are some veteran options on the market, including last year’s starter Daryl Worley. The Cincinnati Bengals cut Dre Kirkpatrick this week, and he knows Paul Guenther’s defense from their time together in Cincinnati. Logan Ryan, Aqib Talib and Prince Amukamara also remain on the open market.

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