Daryl Worley

Raiders have tough choices ahead with players headed for NFL free agency

Raiders have tough choices ahead with players headed for NFL free agency

The Raiders will have a busy offseason with significant roster turnover. That’s the Jon Gruden way, after all, especially while reconstructing this roster after a major teardown in 2018.

We’ve discussed the team’s biggest offseason needs, the possibility of some high-profile cuts and some early ideas on free-agent targets.

The Raiders have to make decisions on their own players with expiring contracts.

They’ve already retained one this week, signing interior lineman Denzelle Good to a one-year contract.

Many others, however, won’t be heading to Vegas. The Raiders have 19 players headed for unrestricted free agency in March, and obviously won’t keep them all. Some will be allowed to walk out the front door. Others will sign contracts the Silver and Black weren’t willing to match. A few should remain with the Raiders.

Open-market value obviously weighs heavily on these decisions, but we can still take an early look at soon-to-be free agents with the highest profiles and whether the Raiders should chase hard or simply let them leave:

CB Daryl Worley: Coaches like Worley’s toughness and versatility and appreciated his willingness to move around the secondary in an attempt to shore up weak spots. Worley is a serviceable outside cornerback, but the Silver and Black should look for a better long-term solution. The Raiders could still re-sign him as a bridge cornerback while developing Isaiah Johnson, though Worley might not like that. He’s looking for the biggest financial commitment, which likely will be found somewhere else.
My take: Consider keeping him on a shorter-term deal, but don’t get into a bidding war. Under those circumstances, I bet he bounces. 

S Karl Joseph: The Raiders could’ve locked Joseph up for 2020 but declined his fifth-year option. That will put him on the market this spring in a weird place. Joseph played some of his best football last year, providing a steady, physical presence in the back while working with Erik Harris. He’s also coming off a foot injury that ended his season early and required surgery. That might depress his market value, though he’s expected to make a full recovery. Joseph would pair well with Johnathan Abram in the back and might not be overly expensive. The Raiders also could move Lamarcus Joyner to safety or acquire another one. Erik Harris already is under contract as excellent depth, negating the need to bring Joseph back.
My take: Re-sign him, focus draft assets on other positions. (P.S. I’m not sure the Raiders agree)

LB Vontaze Burfict: The Raiders defended Burfict at every turn after he was suspended for the final 12 games of the 2019 season after an illegal hit against Indianapolis that got him ejected. A major suspension, maybe even an outright ban, is possible if he makes a similar mistake. I still think the Raiders re-sign Burfict despite those facts. Paul Guenther loves him as a friend and field general but obviously will have a quality Plan B in the middle.
My take: I believe Burfict comes back.

RB Jalen Richard: The third-down back saw fewer carries than he is accustomed used to but is a quality receiver and an excellent pass protector. He’s a tougher runner inside than you’d think and is a big play waiting to happen. Josh Jacobs might be the featured back, but Richard’s an important part of that position group.
My take: Re-sign him right away.

KR/PR Dwayne Harris: Jon Gruden loves Harris, but the lightning-quick special teams standout hurt the Raiders more than he helped in 2019. He was unavailable most of the year and will be 33 next season. The Raiders need to find a new return man.
My take: Let him walk.

[RELATED: Five key offseason questions Raiders brass must answer]

DE Benson Mayowa: The veteran was a situational pass rusher who had a bunch of sacks early and faded late. His career-high seven sacks should provide a solid payday, and he’s going to whichever team is the highest bidder. That team won’t be the Raiders.
My take: Mayowa’s on the move.

LB Will Compton: The veteran was pondering retirement before the Raiders came calling during the season but proved he can still play. Compton’s a sure tackler, a smart player, and a great locker-room presence. He could help on special teams and provide a veteran Plan B for Burfict, mentoring a linebacking group that should feature some highly-touted additions.
My take: Bring him back another year.

DL Dion Jordan: Gruden and Guenther called Jordan a Las Vegas Raider several times last season. They found a diamond in the rough, with Jordan on the right path and in great shape following a 10-game suspension to start the season. The Raiders liked his interior pass-rush ability and need it again next year. I believe the Raiders want him back and that Jordan wants to return, but another team might throw a bigger compensation package at him. He takes it if that happens.
My take: Re-sign him before free agency hits. His value might inflate on the open market.

RB DeAndre Washington: Washington was a true feature back during the season’s last two games, with Jacobs nursing a sore shoulder. He knows those opportunities won’t exist with the Raiders unless Jacobs is hurt. That’s why -- while he says he’s open to a return -- he’ll look for a better opportunity somewhere else. That should be fine with the Raiders, who should fill his roster spot with a bigger back.
My take: Washington finds another landing spot.

CB Nevin Lawson: The veteran played better over the last few games and provided quality depth and injury protection all season. He isn’t vital to future plans and could be allowed to walk away so Johnson, Keisean Nixon and maybe another draft pick could be in a better position to play.
My take: Let him go.

LB Kyle Wilber: He doesn’t play much defense but has been a core special teams player who's well-liked by coordinator Rich Bisaccia. The Raiders have developed young players to lead in the kicking game, meaning they don’t need Wilber as bad as they have before.
My take: Let Wilber walk.

QB Mike Glennon: The Raiders will want to get younger at backup quarterback. That spot could go to Nathan Peterman if Derek Carr is around. Or, if the Raiders make a quarterback switch, it could be a draft pick learning under a free-agent pickup.
My take: Mike’s on to another team no matter how it shakes out.

Raiders report card: Grades for offense, defense in 24-17 win vs. Chargers

Raiders report card: Grades for offense, defense in 24-17 win vs. Chargers

CARSON -- The Raiders kept their ever-so-slim playoff hopes alive with a 24-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, setting up a meaningful regular-season finale.

They snapped a four-game losing streak with a win they simply had to have, earned with excellent run defense and an efficient game from quarterback Derek Carr.

The Silver and Black played well in all phases, far better than they fared in recent weeks. The Raiders showed great resilience, as they have all season, to pull out a victory when they were heavy underdogs.

There consequently will be some high marks on this week’s Raiders report card for efforts that kept their season alive:

Rushing Offense

The Raiders ran well despite missing featured back Josh Jacobs, who was held out with a shoulder injury. DeAndre Washington took the wheel and steered well, with 85 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. Derek Carr also ran for a score, something Jon Gruden has been encouraging for some time.

The Raiders averaged just 3.4 yards per carry, but they were effective on the ground and brought balance to the offense.

Grade: B

Passing Offense

Carr was as efficient as ever in this game, completing 26 of 30 passes for 291 yards and one touchdown. He averaged 8.1 yards per attempt and worked the ball to seven different targets.

Hunter Renfrow led the way with seven catches for 107 yards and a 56-yard touchdown catch-and-run. Tyrell Williams had his best game in a while, and Darren Waller was a steadying presence in the middle of the field.

Pass protection was subpar, with issues at both tackle spots. Carr was able to make plays down the field despite that fact and orchestrated the team’s first victory in more than a month. 

Grade: A

[RELATED: Renfrow's return sparks Raiders to victory vs. Chargers]

Rushing Defense

The Chargers have a dynamic rushing attack paced by Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. Those guys couldn’t do anything against the Raiders' run defense, which completely shut down the ground game. The Bolts had just 19 rushing yards on 16 carries, averaging 1.2 yards per tote. That made the Chargers one dimensional and allowed the defense to focus on the back end.

The Raiders take pride in their run defense, and this might’ve been their best performance of the season in that department. 

Grade: A-plus

Passing Defense

Philip Rivers is prone to aggressive mistakes, something the Raiders took advantage of during their previous meeting in Week 10. Rivers didn’t throw a pick in this one, but the Raiders never let the Chargers' passing game get going despite a rash of injuries in the secondary.

The Raiders lost three defensive backs in this game, forcing Daryl Worley to play four positions over the course of the contest. Nevin Lawson was excellent all day, with four passes defensed, and Erik Harris was steady playing deep safety. 

Grade: B-plus

Special Teams

Daniel Carlson had missed seven kicks in the last seven games, but he hit a crucial 48-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to enhance the Raiders' lead. Renfrow had to return some punts with Jalen Richard ailing a bit and fared well in that new role.

A.J. Cole put the Chargers inside the 20 three times in five attempts, continuing a strong rookie season for the N.C. State alum. 

Grade: B

Overall

The Raiders easily could’ve mailed it in after a heartbreaking loss to Jacksonville in the Oakland Coliseum finale, but they rallied and found a way to win an important division game. Resolve might be this team’s defining characteristic, something it showed plenty of in this victory over the Chargers. The Silver and Black still have a shot at the postseason because of how they approached this game.

Grade: A

Raiders inactives: Daryl Worley set to play some safety vs. Chargers

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USATSI

Raiders inactives: Daryl Worley set to play some safety vs. Chargers

CARSON – The Raiders have taken a close look at most everyone on the roster. Injuries have made that an easy endeavor, with so many at so many different positions. They have obviously seen enough of Isaiah Johnson in practice and have deemed him not ready for game action.

He’s a healthy scratch heading into Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, with Keisean Nixon in a better position to see game action and Daryl Worley healthy and set to take snaps at safety.

The Worley experiment could be telling, with the veteran set for unrestricted free agency this winter. He’s a tough, physical player who could thrive in that spot, especially covering tight ends and working in the box.

Johnson should just call this season a wash, after missing most of it with a facial fracture. He was designated to return off injured reserve around midseason but hasn’t been used much since then. That isn’t a terrible sign for the University of Houston product and a relative newcomer to the cornerback position. He will have time to develop when the team moves to Las Vegas but obviously isn’t ready for a major role at this point.

It will be interesting to see how much Worley plays at safety and how he is used, offering insight into the Raiders interest in re-signing him once he hits the open market.

This was not a surprising inactives list, with several ruled out on Friday due to injury.

[RELATED: Raiders superfan The Violator won't follow team to Vegas]

Here's the full list of inactives for both teams.