Raiders sign sixth-round pick Cory James


Raiders sign sixth-round pick Cory James

The Raiders signed sixth-round linebacker Cory James to a rookie contract, the team announced on Friday.

The Colorado State product was selected No. 194 overall, and will receive a salary commiserate with his draft slot. James signed a four-year contract worth $2,472,480, a sum that includes a $132,480 signing bonus.

James was primarily an edge rusher for the Rams, with a short-lived experience on the interior during his senior season. The Raiders plan to continue that work in an attempt to use his speed to develop a solid cover man who can rush when required.

As general manager Reggie McKenzie said after the NFL Draft, James will earn his 2016 paycheck with special teams play. The Raiders demand quality in the kicking game, especially in coverage.

James had 230 tackles, 24 sacks, four forced fumbles and three passes defensed in his college career.

James is the sixth member of the 2016 draft class to sign a contract. Third-round selection Shilique Calhoun is the only player left unsigned, but a pact is expected soon.

There is little drama to signing rookie contracts with the current wage scale in place.

Jon Gruden insists Raiders 'aren't tanking anything' despite 1-5 start

Jon Gruden insists Raiders 'aren't tanking anything' despite 1-5 start

ALAMEDA – The Raiders are currently in position for a top-5 NFL Draft pick. Starting the season 1-5 will set that up, though the win percentage must stay low all season to secure it.

That is not by design. Head coach Jon Gruden said so directly and with force during a Tuesday press conference following a 27-3 loss to Seattle in London.

That result was the second straight blowout. The L.A. Chargers and then Seahawks dismantled a Raiders seemingly worse as the season’s worn on.

The Raiders face three straight teams after the bye with equal 1-5 records, but there’s no guarantee the Silver and Black can beat any of them. After that Seahawks performance, everything is on the table.

Just because the Raiders might lose doesn’t mean they want to. The topic came seemingly out of the blue, after Gruden was asked about his message to players heading into their bye week.

“I’ll say this, we aren’t tanking anything,” Gruden said. “I hear the hatred out there, some of the rumors that we are tanking it to get a first round pick or a higher pick.

“We are not getting up at 4 o’clock in the morning to tank it. Ain’t nobody tanking it. I don’t know who wrote that or who said that or who thinks that, but that isn’t the case here.

“We are going to continue to work hard, continue to build our team and that was part of the message.”

“Tank” is both a literal and figurative four-letter word for coaches and teams, though the practice occurs in professional sports, most notably in the modern NBA and MLB.

The 2018 Raiders are obviously worse after trading Khalil Mack just before the regular season. Gruden is playing rookies especially at a heavy clip, though veteran free agents signed this offseason haven’t panned out so well. There are reports of Amari Cooper sitting on the trading block, though no actions have been taken in that regard.

Injuries have hindered an already thin depth chart, especially along the offensive line. Donald Penn is on injured reserve, Kelechi Osemele has missed two games and Kolton Miller’s playing through a difficult injury.

“We are going to do everything we can on the practice field to improve but it helps when you have healthy bodies,” Gruden said. “It helps when you have healthy lineman, certainly. We will try to get them healthy so we can do that.”

Raiders coach Jon Gruden issues stern response to Rashaan Melvin tweets

Raiders coach Jon Gruden issues stern response to Rashaan Melvin tweets

ALAMEDA -- Rashaan Melvin made five consecutive starts this season, playing significant snaps in each of those contests.

Then Raiders coaches told the veteran cornerback Saturday in London that his role would decrease significantly in the next day's game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Melvin and Gareon Conley were benched for Daryl Worley and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and the new starters played most every snap in the Raiders' 27-3 loss. Melvin was in for seven, only while Rodgers-Cromartie was being examined by trainers, and he gave up a 10-yard touchdown catch in that short span at Wembley Stadium.

Melvin wasn’t happy about the result or the playing time afterward. The well-traveled cornerback also is being asked to use new techniques in coverage and hasn’t adjusted well.

That frustration led to these two tweets.

The posts were well circulated, and eventually brought to Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s attention.

“I haven’t talked to him yet, no. I’m sure I will. I know (defensive coordinator) Paul Guenther did,” Gruden said in a Tuesday press conference. “I heard there was a Twitter report out there. Melvin is on his seventh team, I think. He’s had different techniques. Maybe he’s confused, I don’t know. I’ll talk to him.

"But he has to play better. He’s in a competitive situation. Perhaps he’s frustrated, and I can’t blame him.”

Melvin’s frustration is clear. He declined comment earlier Tuesday, before Gruden spoke with the press, but he entered this season with high hopes.

He wanted to inarguably prove himself a No. 1 cornerback, and earn the money associated with such distinction. Melvin believed it might come after a career year in Indianapolis, but free agency wasn't generous. He ended up signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Raiders, hoping a good year would secure the multiyear deal he hoped to get this spring.

Being benched and performing below expectation won’t help Melvin’s pride or his pocketbook. That has caused some frustration vented in public.

Gruden somewhat backed off the hard line later in his press conference, addressing Melvin’s frustration in a more political manner.

“He handled adversity and sometimes in an emotional way. But Melvin is a good kid,” Gruden said. “He’s a good kid. He’s given us some good snaps. He’s just in a competitive situation, and we’re trying to help him improve.”