Raiders sign WR Jordy Nelson to two-year deal

Raiders sign WR Jordy Nelson to two-year deal

UPDATE (4:23pm PT on Thursday): The Raiders announced the signing of former Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson.


Raiders quarterback Derek Carr picked up Jordy Nelson at Oakland airport on Wednesday afternoon. That’s when the recruiting pitch started and it carried on for hours, through dinner at an East Bay locale.

Nelson didn’t head back to the airport. He stayed in town, and his camp started hammering out details of a new deal. It was done Thursday morning.

Nelson agreed on terms of a two-year contract to join the Raiders. NFL Network analyst James Jones, a former Raiders and Packers receiver and Nelson’s good friend, first reported the news.

A league source confirmed that information to NBC Sports Bay Area.

Jones reports that Nelson agreed on a $15 million deal, with $13 million guaranteed.

This deal mark Nelson’s first professional change of scenery. He spent the last decade in Green Bay. He was released for salary-cap reasons, and was in Oakland the next day.

Nelson scheduled free-agent visits in Seattle and New Orleans, but cancelled them after agreeing to a deal in Oakland.

The Saints and Seahawks tried to pry Nelson from Oakland’s grasp, which may have helped bridge a financial gap between the team and the receiver’s camp. All that, however, has been resolved.

Nelson’s now in the mix. He’ll provide locker-room leadership and accountability, in addition to steady hands, solid route running and excellent improvisational skills.

His addition also sends Michael Crabtree’s out the door. The veteran receiver was set to earn $7.7 million in salary and bonuses, though none of it is guaranteed.

The Raiders were able to cut him freely and use funds not re-allocated to Nelson for other positions. Having Nelson, Crabtree and Amari Cooper on the field at the same time seems like a good idea, but spending smart is the theme of this Raiders offseason.

They have several other needs in free agency, especially in the defensive backfield and defensive line. They’re still working to re-sign middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman, but must find a replacement if he leaves the Bay Area.

Jettisoning Crabtree is unpopular among the fan base – he made huge plays over the last three seasons – but he fell out of favor with Jack Del Rio’s staff and wasn’t beloved by everyone in the locker room after losing became common last year.

The receiver market exploded this week, and Crabtree could find significant funds on the open market.

Nelson’s coming off a down year and will be 33 in May, but the Raiders clearly believe he can be back on track. He had 53 receptions for 482 yards and six touchdowns in 2017, though quarterback Aaron Rodgers was injured most of that season.

That ended a three-season run with at least 1,250 receiving yards, though a torn ACL stole his 2015 season. He hasn’t looked as quick since the injury and gaining separation could be a question mark, but veteran savvy could help him produce steadily.

Nelson’s sure hands can’t be underscored, especially on a team with drop issues. He had two drops in 84 targets last year, and six drops on 158 targets in 2016. He has caught 68.4 percent of his targets during an illustrious career he hopes can thrive working with Carr and new head coach Jon Gruden.

He’s familiar with receivers coach Edgar Bennett and general manager Reggie McKenzie from his Green Bay days. Having Carr’s arm and Gruden’s offense – where veteran receivers have thrived – was surely an attraction.

Nelson and Cooper will be primary targets, with Seth Roberts looking to rebound from a down year.

Raiders confirm Greg Papa out as team's radio voice after two decades


Raiders confirm Greg Papa out as team's radio voice after two decades

The Raiders made it official Thursday. Legendary broadcaster Greg Papa, who also serves as an analyst for NBC Sports Bay Area, no longer will be the radio voice of the team.

[RAY RATTO: Raiders' exit feels much more imminent after reported broadcaster swap]

Raiders owner Mark Davis made the following statement Thursday: 

The Raiders organization would like to thank Greg Papa for his two decades of service to the Silver and Black.. He wasn’t just given the job.. He earned it.. With intense preparation Greg was always ready for the call.. Just as my generation remembers Bill King and “Holy Toledo”.. The Raider Nation will remember Greg Papa and “Touchdown Raiders”.. We wish Greg and his family the best in whatever the future brings..
-Mark Davis-

Brent Musburger reportedly will replace Papa in the booth. That hasn't been made official, however. 

Five new Raiders with something to prove in 2018 season


Five new Raiders with something to prove in 2018 season

The Raiders are taking some time off during the dead period of the NFL offseason. Even early bird Jon Gruden is slapping the snooze button these days, spending some quality time with family before training camp cranks up later this month.

Coaches and players are still finding time for work, sometimes while they’re on vacation. The Raiders want to hit the ground running this preseason, with many motivated to show well in silver and black. That’s especially true for a large class of new Raiders, many of whom hope to silence detractors.

Here are five newcomers with plenty to prove in 2018:

5. CB Rashaan Melvin

Lists like this are normally reserved for guys coming off injuries or down years. Melvin doesn’t fit that mold. The 28-year old had his best year in 2017, often shutting down top receivers as Indy’s top cornerback. He allowed a paltry 60.3 passer rating when targeted, with three picks, 10 passes defensed and just two touchdowns allowed.

Those stats didn’t produce a robust free-agent market. Melvin ended up signing a one-year, $5.5 million deal with Oakland, and is now working to show he’s not a one-year wonder and can stay healthy for 16 games. An ovation-worthy encore would surely earn a long-term, bigger-money deal.

Melvin made his motivation clear on Twitter a few weeks back.

4. WR Jordy Nelson

Nelson had a down year in 2017. It started well, with six touchdowns in the first four games he played. Then all-world Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down, and things hit the skids. He averaged just 9.1 yards per reception, and didn’t score after that early flurry.

That led some to say Nelson lost a step at age 32 he would not recover. The Packers asked him to take a massive pay cut, and ended up releasing him in March. The Raiders swooped in quickly with a two-year deal and plenty of guaranteed money.

Nelson has been praised for his attention to detail and position-group leadership, and will fit into the starting lineup with Amari Cooper and Martavis Bryant. He had four straight 1,000-yard seasons prior to last year. His worth won’t be defined by a monster statistical year. Reliability, leadership and red-zone performance will show if Nelson’s still got it.

3. RB Doug Martin

The veteran rusher has had an uneven career. Excellent production has come in spurts, with dominance in 2012 and 2015. The last 1,400-plus yard season was followed by two seasons of 2.9 yards per carry, which led Tampa Bay to cut his this winter.

He met Gruden for lunch at a Florida golf course, and the exchange convinced Gruden the 29-year old was ready to work and prove he had plenty left in the tank. His work was praised during the offseason program, though practice in pads and preseason play will offer stronger evidence of 2018 effectiveness. Showing well in camp could lead to an increased role behind starter Marshawn Lynch. Gruden likes using multiple backs in his offense, and could make steady contributions in the run game.

2. MLB Derrick Johnson

The longtime Kansas City Chief was let go by the team that drafted him in 2005, but it was not the end of his NFL journey. Some thought he’d call it a career at age 35, especially after suffering an Achilles’ tendon tear in Dec. 2016, but he found a new home in Oakland and a strong bond with Gruden. The Raiders need stability in the middle, and Johnson will provide on-field leadership. There’s no doubt about that.

Johnson must prove capable of being a three-down linebacker effective against the run and pass. Marquel Lee is available should the Raiders require a platoon, but Johnson doesn’t want that. The Raiders need his expertise inside at all times.

1. Head coach Jon Gruden

Gruden isn’t a newcomer, but it’s been nearly two decades since he roamed the silver and black sidelines. He hasn’t coached since 2008, but returned to the Raiders in January after nine years in the broadcast booth.

Gruden has said several times he has something to prove to his critics. That might be a self-motivational tool. There aren’t many in the East Bay, where the fan base as rallied behind him and players have loved the intensity and passion he brings to practice and meetings.

Some assume his old school tendencies and his “bringing it back to 1998” comment this offseason implies he is resistant to change or offensive innovation. That’s not the case, not by a long shot. We’ll see lots modern offense Gruden studied as an ESPN broadcaster and in his downtime at his Tampa offices, with new wrinkles unveiled as game plans dictate.

Gruden has made a solid impression in his return to coaching but, as it always is in his line of work, effectiveness will be determined by wins and losses. He won’t be graded off one-year alone, especially without solid roster depth, but Gruden wants to start fast and re-establish Raiders winning ways.