Raiders

Which Raiders might not survive 2018 offseason?

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AP/USATSI

Which Raiders might not survive 2018 offseason?

UPDATE: The Raiders released cornerback David Amerson, the team announced, a few hours after this story was published. Information was inserted below to reflect that fact.

The Super Bowl ended the 2017 season Sunday night. The 2018 offseason officially began Monday morning.

These next few months will be interesting for Raiders fans, with new head coach Jon Gruden adding unpredictability to this stretch. He has massive influence in all roster decisions, maybe the final say, even with general manager Reggie McKenzie in the building. McKenzie will handle the draft – his scouting department as been working on this class of aspiring pros for months – but Gruden and coaching staff will get involved.

Fresh faces will be added in free agency, with roster turnover aimed at finding players who fit new Raiders schemes. Don’t forget that Khalil Mack will get a king’s ransom, an act that factors into everything that happens this offseason. All that will come in time.

We might see some housecleaning first. NFL teams can start shedding players right away, Monday afternoon if they’re so inclined. Most of those transactions often come later, as we head through the spring. One came Monday afternoon, when cornerback David Amerson was released. 

The transaction saved $6 million in salary-cap space, and didn't include a dime of dead money. The Raiders have several others who can go without penalty, a benefit of their preferred contract structure, offering up-front roster bonuses on pacts that become pay-as-you-go deals later in life.

That gives Gruden roster flexibility this offseason. They have $13.7 million in cap space, per overthecap.com, but are able to clear significant room with a few swift cuts.

Let’s take a look as some possible cap-saving roster cuts, with a quick comment on each:

-- Michael Crabtree ($7.7 million cap number): Fans have already debated this prospect this offseason. Crabtree has been clutch, and effective during his three-year Raiders tenure. He’s also 30, and seemed at odds with his team late last year. That was primarily with the coaching staff, but it wasn’t a good sign he seemed lethargic in some games. The new staff won’t love that. Could they keep Crabtree, or add $7 million to a deal for a younger, productive pass catcher entering his prime?

-- Marshawn Lynch ($6 million cap number): Here’s another debated topic. Will Lynch retire, get cut or stick around at age 31? Much of that will depend on an offseason meeting with Gruden, and what the veteran wants to do after that. He was the Raiders’ best skill player in 2016’s second half.

-- Sean Smith ($8.5 million cap number): This one seems like a slam-dunk. Smith really improved down the stretch with proper use, but he’s fighting with felony counts of assault and battery and doesn’t fit every scheme.

-- Bruce Irvin ($8.25 million cap number): Good edge rushers are hard to find. Irvin counts among those, especially if he’s focused on going forward. That’s not bad freight for someone with 15 sacks and 10 forced fumbles over the past two season.

-- Kelechi Osemele ($10.5 million cap number): One of the NFL’s best interior linemen. He’s going nowhere.

-- Rodney Hudson ($8.4 million cap number): See above. Raiders love Rodney.

-- Jared Cook ($5.3 million cap number): Was frustrated by how last year turned out, but also lead the Raiders in receiving yards and could’ve had a few more. Gruden could draw up some interesting plays for the receiving tight end.

-- Cordarrelle Patterson ($3.25 million cap number): Kickoff returners have been mitigated some these days, but that’s pretty cheap for special-teams explosiveness and an effective gadget player.

-- Seth Roberts ($4.45 million cap number): Roberts is the only player on this list who would come with a cap hit. It’s $2 million, a reasonable shot if the Raiders find an upgrade in the slot. They could well look for one, maybe in the draft.

Derek Carr, Raiders know 'nobody cares' about cause of fatal losing skid

Derek Carr, Raiders know 'nobody cares' about cause of fatal losing skid

OAKLAND -- The Raiders are running on empty. They’ve lost too many over the trials of traveling so many miles, and they now seem set to crawl across this season’s finish line.

The Silver and Black survived on adrenaline for so long, but there’s simply nothing left. The Raiders might win another game or two, but it’s hard to imagine them playing well enough over four quarters to beat quality opposition.

The Raiders have valid reasons for wobbly legs. They have been dealing with drama since Antonio Brown went nuclear near summer’s end, with a steady stream of setbacks after that. Let’s not forget about the five-game road trip, the Vontaze Burfict suspension and all those injuries.

The instinct to excuse is strong and could explain this recent Raiders slide. Jon Gruden has gone down that road a few times this season, while ultimately assuming responsibility for this team’s shortcomings.

Derek Carr didn’t want to do that.

“Oh, it’s been crazy. Let’s not sugarcoat it,” Carr said Sunday after Oakland's 42-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans. “Let’s just be real about it. I’m into facts, and it’s been a really weird year. We can get into all the other stuff. Someone should write a book at some point about that, you know? Some of the stuff that went on, but nobody cares. I’m used to that.”

A book may detail this oddball season. The line on the Raiders’ 2019 Pro Football Reference page won’t include any of that. It’ll just reveal a record, some stats and a schedule’s results.

Maybe that’s fitting for a franchise with a simple, direct mantra: Just win, baby.

It’s not much different than Carr’s response to those asking how injuries and other setbacks impact how the team is playing now: Nobody cares.

We could also pair them together.

Nobody cares. Just win, baby.

“Nobody cares about the situation,” Carr said. “Nobody cares who is playing. Nobody cares who has been here, who has not been here. I have learned that in my six years. Nobody cares. We didn’t win the football game, and it is what it is.”

The Raiders didn’t win enough football games down the stretch. The Silver and Black were loving life after a three-game winning streak pushed them up to 6-4 and in a great position to earn a playoff berth.

Fans were stoked, especially those in Oakland to dared to dream about the final East Bay campaign extended to the postseason. It was then that the expectations changed. The bar was raised before the Raiders cleared the original height.

Let’s not forget this is a rebuilding team that always eyed 2020 to fight for division crowns and wild-card spots. The team needs another excellent draft class and a productive free-agent signing period to further what Gruden started after being hired in Jan. 2018. First, there was a teardown. Then there was an ascent that began in earnest this season but didn’t solve all of this team’s problems.

The offense received perceived quick fixes. Some worked (Trent Brown). Some didn’t (Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams). The defense was always another year away while the unit was rebuilt with the draft, largely from the ground up.

The Raiders played better than the sum of their parts around midseason and were able to notch some good wins. But all the fatigue and attrition put the Raiders in a position where they can’t make up for mistakes of any kind. If Brown and rookie running back Josh Jacobs are done for the year -- that’s certainly possible now that playoff prospects have essentially been dashed -- struggles should continue.

[RELATED: Carr, Raiders' offense hear boo birds as slide continues]

The next goal is to find a way to put on a good show in the final game played in Oakland. The Raiders have one left, coming up next week against Jacksonville. It might be tough considering the circumstances but, as we now know, nobody cares.

Just win the last one, baby.

“They deserve a fun showing, a fun game, and I’m really looking forward to it,” Carr said. “It’s honestly, it’s weird, it’s sad. I know some of the Raider faithful will probably be a little sad that it’s the last time, but it’s out of our control. I mean, it is what it is.”

Raiders report card: Grades for offense, defense in 42-21 loss to Titans

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USATSI

Raiders report card: Grades for offense, defense in 42-21 loss to Titans

OAKLAND – The Raiders’ season has taken a major downturn. A team once riding high at 6-4 with a realistic shot to make the postseason had their playoff hopes dashed by Sunday’s 42-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans at Oakland Coliseum.

Their season will be over soon enough, a fact cemented by the Silver and Black’s third straight blowout loss. Oakland kept it close before falling apart after halftime, much like the Raiders’ entire season. The game had some good moments but ultimately fell flat on its face.

The gas tank’s on empty at this stage, with the Raiders laboring to reach the finish the line. They couldn’t do that in this game, unable to match up with a suddenly high-octane Titans attack.

The Raiders are struggling mightily on offense and defense, without the talent or magic required to make good things happen. Positivity’s hard to find from another blowout loss, a fact reflected in this week’s Raiders report card:

Rushing offense

The Raiders ground game operated without Josh Jacobs for the first time all season despite the rookie dealing with a fractured shoulder since Week 7. He wasn’t able to go on Sunday and the Raiders offense suffered as a result. DeAndre Washington had 53 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries in a featured role, with Jalen Richard chipping in 28 yards on seven rushes.

Washington’s 14-yard touchdown run was his best, knocking a defender over on his way to the end zone. The Raiders were down to 4.0 yards per carry, with the run game removed from the offensive equation once the Titans went up big.

Grade: C

Passing offense

Derek Carr’s stat line looks nice, but completing 25-of-34 passes for 263 yards, two touchdowns and no picks doesn’t reflect issues with this passing game. Receivers aren’t threatening, with Tyrell Williams and Zay Jones lacking chemistry with Carr. It’s uncertain who Carr truly trusts outside tight ends Darren Waller, Foster Moreau and his running backs.

There isn’t enough separation. The ball’s too often thrown short of the sticks. The air attack isn’t going well and hasn’t been in some time. Take away Rico Gafford’s 49-yard touchdown catch and there wasn’t much there.

Carr said life got harder in the second half after Tennessee started playing deeper, refusing to get beat by big plays. The Raiders couldn’t move the chains consistently enough to sustain drives or productivity required to beat the steadily churning Titans attack.

Grade: C-minus

Rushing defense

The Raiders got a heavy dose of Derrick Henry on Sunday afternoon, just as they expected. The imposing back churned out 103 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, rushing totals that could’ve been sky high had his attempts soared. That wasn’t necessary considering how well the passing game was going, and that quarterback Ryan Tannehill was able to scramble for yards as well.

The Raiders normally sport a strong run defense, but this tired front struggled against a big back who never seems to wear down.

Grade: D

Passing defense

Tannehill carved up the Raiders pass defense, taking whatever he wanted whenever he wanted it. Daryl Worley couldn’t cover A.J. Brown, with the receiver torching the Raiders to the tune of five catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns. The pass rush impacting the team’s three-game winning streak has gone quiet, unable to generate much heat and help the secondary out.

Tannehill was near perfect, completing 21-of-27 passes for 391 yards – that’s 14.5 yards per attempt!! – three touchdowns and a 140.4 passer rating.

Grade: F

Special teams

Richard took over returning kickoffs and punts after Trevor Davis got cut earlier this week and the Raiders did just fine. A.J. Cole put four of his five punts inside the 20-yard line. The Raiders generally won the battle for field position, though their offense didn’t always do something with it.

Grade: B

[RELATED: Gruden wasn't mad about Carr's late throwaway]

Overall

The Raiders were shocked to turn in such a terrible second-half performance with so much on the line. They understood this game’s playoff implications. They understand this was a must-win and couldn’t do anything to stop a superior opponent. They kept up for a while but were eventually overwhelmed by Tennessee’s relentless attack. The Raiders are playing some bad football right now. It’s too bad the home crowd had to see it.

Grade: F