Raiders sign tight end Darren Waller to contract extension through 2023

Raiders sign tight end Darren Waller to contract extension through 2023

Raiders tight end Darren Waller will be a part of the Silver and Black for the foreseeable future. 

The Raiders signed Waller to a contract extension Wednesday, the team announced. A source confirmed to NBC Sports California's Scott Bair that Waller's three-year extension will last through 2023, coming into effect next season.

NFL Media's Tom Pelissero first reported the news Wednesday night.

Waller, 27, has emerged as a focal point of the Raiders' offense in 2019. The four-year pro has a career-high 37 receptions for 359 yards through five games this season, and he leads the Raiders in receiving yards and targets (42) after developing strong chemistry with quarterback Derek Carr. 

[RELATED: Carr making most of revolving cast of Raiders receivers]

The extension means the Raiders have offensive cornerstones Waller and running back Josh Jacobs under contract through the team's move to Las Vegas.

The Raiders are set to play their first season in Sin City in 2020, and Waller now is sure to be one of the headliners. 

Armed with fresh perspective, D.J. Swearinger ready for Raiders opportunity

Armed with fresh perspective, D.J. Swearinger ready for Raiders opportunity

ALAMEDA – D.J. Swearinger has worn the No. 36 forever, from his college days into his seventh NFL season. Players get attached to their number and the veteran safety was no different, especially after a decade-plus wearing the same digits.

It was available and given to him upon signing with the Raiders on Nov. 9, but he quickly requested a change.

Swearinger wanted No. 21 and got it. This wasn’t just a number switch. It was a symbolic attempt to start fresh with a new team after bouncing around the league more than he’d like.

“My grandmother was the first to suggest it. She said that I had reinvented myself over the last month I have been off [after getting cut by Arizona],” Swearinger said on this week’s Raiders Talk podcast. “A few of my homeboys told me the same thing. After that, I talked to my parents about it and they agreed. The only number I felt like I could get into would be 21 because I grew up watching Sean Taylor and Deion Sanders as well. Those were the two guys who inspired me to get that number.”

Taylor, in particular, was a role model, an all-gas-no-brakes intimidator that Swearinger believes he can be when playing his best.

Swearinger had to find the proper mindset to find that level of play. That was his goal after the Cardinals cut him early this season. He didn’t rush to find a new gig. He went home to his family and did some soul searching, doing everything possible to get right and be ready for his next opportunity.

“It was different, but it was extremely helpful. I got to look at life from a different perspective,” Swearinger said. “I had a chance to get my mind, body and spirit right. I spent a lot of time with my family and I spent a lot of time reading. That’s something I haven’t done in the past, that I wanted to do. I picked up on a couple books that helped me, and I did some mental counseling as well.

“Being away from the game, I was trying to figure it out and help the man and the football player. It helped me a lot. I look at things from a different perspective now, and I think it will only help me and my future.”

[RELATED: Doss enjoying 'unorthodox' journey amid inactive stretch]

It’s clear from our conversation that Swearinger values this opportunity more than most. He loves working for Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, a coach he believes has the same insatiable desire to win above all else.

“I always wanted to play with a high-energy coach who has the same passion for the game that I have,’ Swearinger said. “It was a perfect fit for me.”

That’s clear after one game. He dove into the scheme – it helped that there were plenty of similarities between the Raiders and Cardinals systems – and was proficient enough to lead the team in tackles eight days later. He hasn’t reveled in that moment, choosing instead to delve deeper into the system while preparing to contribute to this Raiders playoff push. Swearing is hellbent on making the postseason, with a drive and hunger that, he says, some have found off-putting in previous stops. Swearinger believes he has found the proper mindset to help this team thrive.

“That has been the knock against me over the past few years,” Swearinger said. “I have been so hungry on each team that I’ve been on that I have been trying to change the culture in a sense, to be hungry and get the guys to be hungry to win. At the end of the day, a lot of guys play this game just for the money. I play this thing for the love of the game and to go to the playoffs and hoist the Lombardi Trophy one day, with my kids in my arms. That’s the vision and the focus.

“Sometimes, guys don’t see it the same way. In other places I have been, they didn’t see it that way. I think a lot of the guys here see it that way. They have that vision and desire to go deep in the playoffs and make a run. There’s something special here, with a special team and a special coach. We’re going to do our best to make that run.”

'Optimism' Antonio Brown could return this season, Mike Florio says

'Optimism' Antonio Brown could return this season, Mike Florio says

Like a bad cold, the Antonio Brown saga just won't go away.

The former Raiders and Patriots receiver has been unemployed for the last nine weeks, with teams scared to sign him just to see the NFL suspend him over sexual assault allegations the moment he puts pen to paper. Brown recently met with the NFL as the league continues its investigation, and the receiver recently apologized to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, leading many to believe a return to the wideout-starved Patriots could be in the cards.

Most assume Brown won't play in the NFL this season, especially if the four-time All-Pro continues to go from apologetic to vindictive and back on social media depending on which way the wind blows. That, however, might not be the case, according to ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio.

“There’s optimism on Brown’s part that things went well enough last Thursday that he could be reinstated by the end of the season," Florio said Wednesday on WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show." "The prevailing view had been the NFL was going to kick the can through the end of the season, let him play next year. If they decide to suspend him, maybe give him credit for time served because for a practical matter he’s been suspended without pay for nine weeks because no one will touch him while this league investigation is pending. But, there is some optimism that he will have a chance to get back in. 

“That is what sparked really for me fascination. You throw this guy in the pool of available players with two or three weeks left in the regular season, just as an example, think about the land rush playoff teams would potentially engage (in with) him because not only do you help yourself by getting him, you help yourself by keeping him from signing with someone you’re going to have to deal with in January, which gives you even more reason to get him under contract, if and when he’s eligible to be signed.”

Brown, always one to be on social media, posted a video to Twitter on Thursday of himself working out in a Raiders helmet because we know how much he loves the Schutt AiR Advantage lid.

While Brown isn't suspended or on the Commissioner's Exempt List, the specter of that has hung over him ever since the Patriots cut him prior to Week 3. If the NFL were to clear him and OK to return, there's no telling how many teams would be willing to give him yet another chance. 

The Seahawks showed interest in Brown after the Raiders cut him, and some have suggested the 49ers would be a good landing spot for him should he become available. It seems like a return to the Patriots also could be in the cards, as Tom Brady and Co. have struggled offensively with the injuries to their receiving corps.

[RELATED: Doss enjoying 'unorthodox' NFL journey amid inactive stretch]

Could business be boomin' again soon?

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