Raiders

Report: Former Packers WR to visit Raiders in free agency

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Report: Former Packers WR to visit Raiders in free agency

Jordy Nelson has played his entire career in one spot. The beloved Green Bay receiver will have to carry on with another, after the Packers released him Tuesday to clear salary cap space.

The Raiders will have a chance to get him first. He’ll visit the team’s Alameda complex on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, and meet up with some old friends.

Raiders receivers coach Edgar Bennett is certainly an attraction. He was Nelson’s receivers coach in Green By from 2011-14 and his offensive coordinator – head coach Mike McCarthy called the plays – from 2015-17.

He was a second-team All-Pro in 2014, working with Bennett. He was also named the NFL’s comeback player of the year in 2016 with 1,257 yards and an NFL best 14 touchdowns, a year after a torn ACL took him out a full season.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie was in the Packers personnel department, though he was focused on pro scouting, when Nelson became Green Bay’s second-round pick in 2008.

There are several teams preliminarily interested in Nelson, though the Raiders certainly hope to have him signed before leaving Alameda.

It’s uncertain, at this stage, what Nelson’s looking for financially. He made a $5.5 million base salary last year.

Nelson is 33 years old, coming off his worst season in some time. He had 53 catches for 482 yards, six touchdowns on 84 targets, and a career-worst 9.1 yards per reception. He had just 0.95 yards per route run, according to Pro Football Focus. That downtick could be attributed, at least in part, to quarterback Aaron Rodgers missing significant time with a broken collar bone. 

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is an attraction in his own right, with strong football knowledge and a powerful arm. 

The Raiders could use some help everywhere but especially in the slot, where Nelson played 29 percent of the time last year. He was the NFL’s most efficient slot receiver in 2016, and could find a role there in the Raiders offense that might offset any loss in raw speed.

The Raiders hope to sign Nelson as soon as possible. They could add him to a receiver corps that includes Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree -- that's the ideal scenario -- or, maybe more likely, they could exchange Crabtree for Nelson.

Crabtree is set to make a $7.5 million base salary that is not guaranteed, and could be easily cut despite McKenzie saying he’s in their plans for 2018. The Raiders wanted him to take a pay cut, though he might find a solid market considering how much receivers are getting paid in free agency.

Nelson is known as an excellent leader and locker-room presence, as Aaron Rodgers suggests in a farewell to Nelson on social media.

Five new Raiders with something to prove in 2018 season

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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.

Raiders CB Gareon Conley files countersuit against woman who accused him of rape

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Raiders CB Gareon Conley files countersuit against woman who accused him of rape

Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley has filed a lawsuit against the woman who accused him of rape in April 2017.

A Cuyahoga County grand jury declined to indict him on criminal charges stemming from an incident in Cleveland less than a month before the 2017 NFL Draft.

Conley deemed the allegations false at the time, and maintained his innocence throughout the process.

His accuser filed a civil suit against Conley on April 6, 2017, seeking $25,000 in damages.

Conley has chosen to file a counter lawsuit, seeking compensation for damage to his reputation, draft stock and endorsement opportunities.

According to court documents obtained by TMZ, he lost an endorsement deal with Nike because of the accusation. He reiterated his innocence in court filings, saying he turned down his accusers advances.

The Ohio State product was considered a top 15 talent heading into the draft, but was ultimately selected No. 24 overall by the Raiders despite the rape accusation.

He missed most of his rookie season with a shin injury that required surgery. He was cleared for full football activity this spring.