Raiders

Tyrell Williams' salary guaranteed, but Raiders still need receiver help

Tyrell Williams' salary guaranteed, but Raiders still need receiver help

Tyrell Williams had a disappointing first season with the Raiders. The veteran wide receiver would be the first to admit that.

His 2019 campaign was hindered by a severe bout of plantar fasciitis that bothered him from Week 2 forward.

That might’ve closed an escape hatch for the team after his first season, considering a source raised the possibility he still wasn’t totally healthy and the second year of a four-year, $44 million contract was guaranteed for injury.

Health no longer mattered Wednesday, when his $11 million base salary in 2020 became fully guaranteed regardless of current physical health. The Raiders will employ Williams for a second season, with the belief he will rebound from his first significant injury in five professional seasons.

He had 42 catches for 651 yards and six touchdowns in 2019, a less-than-spectacular sum due in large part to his ailing feet. The injury was a setback for the Raiders especially after Antonio Brown went nuclear and was cut just before the regular season started.

Williams missed some three weeks -- two games and a bye -- after Week 4 but continued to play through pain until season’s end. He wasn’t himself, losing speed from his long strides and agility to make contested catches.

Head coach Jon Gruden acknowledged those setbacks in his postseason press conference, which occurred after he and Williams had a long talk about his first Raiders season.

“We have to go back and I watch him in training camp and Week 1 when he was healthy against Denver, and he’s a talented guy,” Gruden said on Dec. 30, 2019. “But it’s hard to play when your feet are on fire and his feet were hurting bad. It’s a credit to him to play through it, but we need to get him healthy.

"… But we think he’s an excellent football player, he’s just got to get right.”

Williams can be a productive player went right. He proved that in 2016, when he had 69 catches for 1,059 yards as the then San Diego Chargers’ primary receiver. He can be an awesome No. 2 receiver able to make catches down the field and on intermediate routes using deceptive speed. He has also averaged 16.2 yards per reception, and the Raiders need someone who can consistently take yards in chunks.

Williams can be a solid member of a receiver corps that will be upgraded this offseason. He has been looking forward to that. The Raiders are expected to add talent and bodies to the position group, taking talent from a stacked NFL draft class. The Raiders could use one of two first-round picks on a dynamic receiving talent, but that shouldn’t stop them from adding more in free agency.

[RELATED: Raiders sign Richard to two-year contract extension through 2021]

Williams will be back alongside 2019 fifth-round draft pick Hunter Renfrow, who established himself over the course of his rookie year. He has the slot locked down and Williams should work outside with a newcomer or two. Zay Jones remains under contract, though his role is uncertain after providing little impact after being acquired from the Buffalo Bills in a trade.

The Silver and Black have plenty of salary-cap space even after locking Williams' money in and signing Jalen Richard to a contract extension. While it seems less likely the Raiders sign another receiver to an eight-figure salary, upgrages are sure to come and help Williams thrive during the team's first season in Las Vegas. 

The Raiders guaranteed other salaries on Wednesday. Center Rodney Hudson ($12.65 million), quarterback Derek Carr ($2.9 million) and guard Richie Incognito ($5 million) had money locked in for payment, though those amounts were never in real doubt.

Raiders set to use rest of Khalil Mack trade assets in 2020 NFL Draft

Raiders set to use rest of Khalil Mack trade assets in 2020 NFL Draft

The Raiders traded Khalil Mack just before the 2018 regular season and didn’t get anything in return to help that year’s roster. That was a main reason why that season went up in smoke and put the Raiders’ decision under fire.

Jon Gruden in particular became a punching bag the trade's detractors, without evidence of the trade's return coming for a year or more. 

The Raiders head coach is about to get a fat dividend check. 

The Mack trade will start looking a bit different next month, because the bulk of assets exchanged will be used either to acquire NFL draftees or as trade chips.

As a reminder, the Raiders traded Mack, a 2020 second-round draft pick -- coughing up that selection remains an eybrow raiser, but it got the deal done -- and a conditional 2020 fifth-round draft pick that is now a seventh-round draft pick to Chicago for first-round draft picks in 2019 and 2020, with a 2020 third-round draft pick and a 2019 sixth-round draft pick.

The Raiders used the Bears’ 2019 first-round pick to acquire running back Josh Jacobs. That’s not a bad deal even as a straight swap, but there’s a lot more to account for when evaluating this deal.

Following where the 2019 sixth-round pick would require heading down a rabbit hole leading to Wonderland, so let’s just say it was traded to the Jets along with Kelechi Osemele for an asset that started a series of 2019 in-draft trades that helped acquire several members of an excellent draft class, including Trayvon Mullen and Hunter Renfrow.

Here’s what the Raiders have yet to use from the Mack trade:
2020 first-round draft pick (No. 19 overall)
2020 third-round draft pick (No. 81 overall)

Here’s what the Bears have yet to use from the Mack trade:
2020 second-round draft pick (No. 43 overall)
2020 seventh-round draft pick (No. 223 overall)

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Using those selections will give us a clearer picture of what the trade looks like, even though it’s imprudent to evaluate draft picks until they’ve played a few NFL seasons.

Raiders fans should have some level of confident coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock will do the right thing with extra assets considering how well last year’s draft went, the Jacobs pick in particular.

This year’s No. 19 overall draft pick is an important one, likely producing the other headline name in a deal that will be remembered alongside shipping Mack to Chicago and the Jacobs pick.

[RELATED: Mack makes All-Decade Team, largely for work with Raiders]

Our latest NBC Sports Bay Area mock draft has the Raiders taking Alabama safety Xavier McKinney at No. 19, while Gruden and Mayock could be looking for a cornerback or a defensive tackle at that spot. It’s also a trade chip that could get the Raiders into the second round, where they currently don’t have a selection.

The Jacobs pick made fans feel a lot better about the Mack trade, especially with 2019 fourth-round draft pick Maxx Crosby proving a formidable edge rusher with 10 sacks as a rookie. Using their assets correctly might even make the Raiders come out ahead, or darn close to it, with young players on the roster and money Mack would’ve demanded spread out among several other veteran free agents who are good but not at Mack’s elite level.

Khalil Mack, Shane Lechler among ex-Raiders on NFL's All-Decade Team

Khalil Mack, Shane Lechler among ex-Raiders on NFL's All-Decade Team

Khalil Mack was the Raiders best player over the past decade. It’s hard to argue that, even with Charles Woodson making Pro Bowls in his last 30s.

The Silver and Black drafted him No. 5 overall in 2014, and he thrived in the four seasons before being traded to the Chicago Bears. He had 41.5 sacks in that span and was one of the NFL’s elite edge run defenders.

He made the Pro Bowl three times and was a first-team All-Pro twice as a Raider, including one year where he earned the distinction at two positions. He also won the NFL’s defensive player of the year award in 2016, when the Raiders made the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

Mack was an obvious choice for the NFL’s all-decade team for the 2010s, which was released by the league on Monday morning.

Mack wasn’t the only former Raider on the list. Punter Shane Lechler was rightfully included, though he played just three years for the Silver and Black in that decade. The Raiders’ first-round pick in 2000 was a fixture in Oakland from that time through 2012, when the native Texan left to play for Houston.

Oakland icon and former Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch also made the list, largely for his exploits with the Seattle Seahawks. He was with his hometown Raiders in 2017 and 2018 after coming out of retirement and returned to Seattle last year for their playoff run.

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All-decade kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson spent a year with the Raiders in 2017.

Center Rodney Hudson is the only Raider with a strong argument for inclusion ultimately left out. He’s at least equal to Alex Mack and Maurkice Pouncey, possibly better in some eyes, and may be the NFL’s best pass-blocking center.

[RELATED: Raiders must do better with No. 12 draft pick]

While Woodson was well past his prime in the 2010s, the future Hall-of-Famer made three Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro in 2011. He was featured on the NFL’s All-2000s roster but could well have been included here. Eric Weddle, Eric Berry and Earl Thomas were the safeties named to the all-2010s team, and it’s hard to justify taking any of them off the list.

Here's the complete All-2010s team:  

OFFENSE
WR –
 Antonio Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones
TE – Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce
T – Jason Peters, Tyron Smith, Joe Staley, Joe Thomas
G – Jahri Evans, Logan Mankins, Zack Martin, Marshal Yanda
C – Alex Mack, Maurkice Pouncey
QB – Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers
RB – Frank Gore, Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson
Flex – Darren Sproles

DEFENSE
DE –
 Calais Campbell, Cameron Jordan, Julius Peppers, J.J. Watt
DT – Geno Atkins, Fletcher Cox, Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh
LB – Chandler Jones, Luke Kuechly, Khalil Mack, Von Miller, Bobby Wagner, Patrick Willis
CB – Patrick Peterson, Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman
S – Eric Berry, Earl Thomas, Eric Weddle
DB – Chris Harris, Tyrann Mathieu

SPECIAL TEAMS
P –
 Johnny Hekker, Shane Lechler
K – Stephen Gostkowski, Justin Tucker
PR – Tyreek Hill, Darren Sproles
KR – Devin Hester, Cordarrelle Patterson

COACHES
Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll

NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco contributed to this report.