Raiders trade 2016 second-round DL Jihad Ward to Dallas

Raiders trade 2016 second-round DL Jihad Ward to Dallas

ALAMEDA – Raiders defensive lineman Jihad Ward played a ton as a rookie, mostly out of necessity. The 2016 second-round pick moved way down on the depth chart the following year, with other options healthy and playing far better.

The Illinois product was a healthy scratch most of the season, and didn’t impressed a new Raiders coaching staff led by Jon Gruden this season.

He didn’t stand much of a chance to make the 53-man roster, especially after the Raiders selected defensive tackles P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst in this year’s NFL Draft.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said Dallas called about Ward, and that he was expendable due to the draft additions along the defensive line.

Ward was traded to Dallas for receiver Ryan Switzer on Saturday afternoon, shortly after the Raiders made their last scheduled pick. The Cowboys first announced the transaction.

It's hard to imagine Ward had even a short-term future in Oakland -- he was behind three incumbent defensive tackles, with two draft picks coming in -- so getting anything for him was a coup. 

“When they called, it kind of opened doors," McKenzie said on Saturday. "Bottom line is we drafted two interior guys and that kind of opened the door, and I was willing to listen. They had a player that they were willing to let go and we want some competition as a returner. He’s a slot receiver, so it made it easy for me with that decision and thought it was a good way to upgrade our football team.”

Switzer was Dallas’ fourth-round pick last year, and didn’t establish himself as an offensive player. He was a solid return man, averaging 8.8 yards per punt return, which includes an 83-yard touchdown.

Switzer became expendable after Dallas traded for receiver/return man Tavon Austin earlier on Saturday.

Ward had 32 tackles and a sack in two years with the Raiders.

Arden Key signs, entire Raiders 2018 draft class now under contract


Arden Key signs, entire Raiders 2018 draft class now under contract

The Raiders drafted nine players back in April. Now they’re all under contract.

Third-round edge rusher Arden Key was the last to ink his rookie deal, putting pen to paper on a four-year rookie deal Friday morning.

Key will make an estimated $3.57 million over the league of the deal with a $834k signing bonus, per athletic salary site

The current collective bargaining agreement and its rookie wage scale makes signing draft picks far easier, with little wiggle room to negotiate deals.

The Raiders locked up their last rookie the day after the offseason program’s conclusion. NFL teams largely go quiet during this time, until training camps begin in late July.

The Raiders are excited about Key’s potential. The LSU product believes he’s a first-round talent who dropped due to off-field concerns and a drop in his 2017 production over the previous year.

Key has flashed great athleticism, quickness and bend. He could make an immediate impact as a third edge rusher behind Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin.

“Arden Key,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said, “has got some special pass-rush ability.”

Reports: Raiders WR Martavis Bryant's standing with NFL in question

Reports: Raiders WR Martavis Bryant's standing with NFL in question

The Raiders gave up significant draft capital to acquire receiver Martavis Bryant. The trade cost a third-round pick, something the Silver and Black were willing to sacrifice for a game-breaking talent missing from their arsenal.

They might've traded for a player who will be unavailable. The Las Vegas Review Journal reported Thursday night that the Raiders are concerned the NFL will discipline Bryant. The report also states discipline is believed to stem from poor standing with the substance abuse policy.

That would be news to Bryant. As of late Friday morning, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area, the NFL had not notified Bryant about issues with his standing with the league.

An NFL spokesman declined comment when asked if the league was considering discipline for Bryant.

Bryant violated the NFL substance abuse policy multiple times while playing in Pittsburgh. The Clemson product has been suspended twice over failed drug tests, and missed the entire 2016 season as a repeat offender of the substance abuse policy.

He was conditionally reinstated prior to the 2017 campaign. The receiver must now follow stringent guidelines, including tests and meetings, to remain compliant with the substance abuse policy. In short, more than a failed drug test can get a player in some trouble.

The NFL Network reports the league has identified an issue with Bryant, but that it is not clear if it will result in a delay in his availability – he was held out for the start of training camp last year with Pittsburgh – if the issue can be simply remedied clerically or if it will result in a suspension. NFL Network also reports Bryant met with the league at its New York office in late April, and was in good standing at that time.

Bryant did not participate in Thursday’s Raiders minicamp practice, the last session of their offseason program.

Bryant has not spoken to the press since April 27, when he said the Raiders trade offered a “clean slate” he planned to maximize.

“I’ve had my difficulties in my past, but I’ve come a long way from that,” Bryant said. “It’s all about keeping the right resources around me and continuing to stay on the right path. I’m going to make sure I get that done.”

Bryant has one season left on his contract, originally signed with Pittsburgh. He has looked good in practices open to the press, flashing great speed and an ability to use his 6-foot, 5-inch frame well.