Jalen Richard

Raiders sign Jalen Richard to two-year contract extension through 2021

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USATSI

Raiders sign Jalen Richard to two-year contract extension through 2021

The Raiders didn’t draft running back Jalen Richard back in 2016, nor did they sign him immediately after the amateur selection process. The Southern Mississippi product was a tryout player inked after rookie minicamp, but quickly rose up the ranks to become an instant impact player.

Richard became one during the 2016 playoff run as a receiver out of the backfield and a quality pass protector. He proved a tough runner as well, both between the tackles and in open space.

Richard has given the Raiders quality throughout the past four seasons and was rewarded with a two-year contract extension on Wednesday morning, the team announced. It's initially worth $7 million with $4.6 million guaranteed, though he can make $8 million with incentives. 

NFL Network was first to report the news.

A league source confirmed Richard agreed on terms of the deal, keeping him in silver and black as the team transitions to Las Vegas next season.

Richard is the fourth impending Raiders free agent to get locked up before hitting the open market in March. Richie Incognito, Denzelle Good and Nevin Lawson have also agreed to new deals since the season ended.

Richard has also proven capable in the clutch time and again, an invaluable trait for someone often on the field in two-minute drill situations. He has 1,170 yards on 233 professional carries, a 5.0-yard average that shows his quality. He also had 1,380 receiving yards on 160 catches.

[RELATED: Derek Carr unfazed by questions on his Raiders future, brother says

Richard has a role in the Raiders backfield behind feature back Josh Jacobs, though the position group still has some question marks. DeAndre Washington was Jacobs’ primary backup last season, but he’s headed for unrestricted free agency and his return is uncertain at best. The Raiders were looking for a bigger, bruising back near last season’s end but never truly found one. It’s possible that role gets filled by someone new in free agency or the NFL draft.

Jacobs fractured his shoulder midway through last season but the injury didn’t require surgery to repair. He’ll be ready for the offseason program as the Raiders try to strengthen a running game headed in the right direction.

Why jumping into Black Hole is so unforgettable for Raiders players

Why jumping into Black Hole is so unforgettable for Raiders players

Raiders running back Jalen Richard drifted into the left flat and caught a screen pass from quarterback Derek Carr a few yards from pay dirt. Three receivers were engaged and blocking well before him, allowing Richard to squiggle through traffic and into Oakland Coliseum’s southern end zone.

It was a big moment for the 2016 Raiders, looking to enhance playoff positioning with a Week 16 home win over Indianapolis. It was a big moment for Richard, an undrafted rookie who found himself a major contributor in a playoff push. He didn’t stop to celebrate with his teammates. No way, not after his first touchdown in the East Bay.

There was tradition to uphold. Richard made a beeline for the Black Hole.

“It was definitely planned,” Richard said. “I thought they looked like they were turnt up. Everybody was faded and having a blast. I knew I had to do it.”

It’s a rite of passage for Raiders skill players fortunate enough to score near a notoriously rabid fan section.

“Sometimes I plan on it, and other times it just happens,” Raiders running back DeAndre Washington said. “Once you get in the end zone, your adrenaline is going and you’ve got 60,000 people screaming for you to come get that love. They always embrace you. It’s one hell of a feeling. I would advise anybody who scores to try it at least once."

Jumping into the Black Hole isn’t new. Running back Napoleon Kaufman was first to do it in the mid-1990s -- the Raiders moved back to Oakland in 1995 -- as the Black Hole was established and growing in size and notoriety.

The tradition grew from there and has become commonplace when the Raiders break into the southern end zone. There’s one more guaranteed chance to do so Sunday against Jacksonville, the final Raiders game at Oakland Coliseum and maybe the Black Hole's last hurrah.

It’s not just rushers and receivers who can get in on the act.

Quarterback Jeff George took the leap in 1997. Edge rusher Khalil Mack and linebacker Sio Moore have partied in the crowd. Even 340-pound left tackle Donald Penn jumped into the Black Hole after scoring a big-man touchdown.

Former All-Pro fullback Marcel Reece never missed a chance to party with the fans who unwaveringly supported the Raiders during some lean years.

“Jumping in the Black Hole and celebrating with those fans, those loyalists, those people who bleed silver and black just like you do, it’s like being at Thanksgiving dinner with your family,” Reece said. “It’s that feeling where, no matter what else is going on, nothing else matters but that moment right there.

"The fact that you scored and gave them a reason to cheer is a feeling that’s like nothing else.”

There is some technique to it. You need a head of steam and decent hops to get over the stadium wall and into the crowd. It’s decently low, but folks have tried to get into the Black Hole and missed. It’s also important to jump up, turn around and go in backwards. The leap of faith will be rewarded by fans ready to catch you.

“You need a little bounce or you’ll get embarrassed,” Raiders running back DeAndre Washington said. “I’ve seen a few guys miss the leap, so you’ve got to be ready to get vertical. Even if you don’t make it, the fans will pull you up. You might get a little beer on you, but that’s part of the experience.”

There’s another aspect of the experience first-timers don’t expect. Getting in is easy. Getting out is another matter.

“Sometimes they don’t like to let you go,” Washington said. “And, if you get in there with the ball, it’s going to be a fight for sure. You have to protect it like you were still running.”

[RELATED: Sunday marks end of an era for longtime Black Hole residents]

The experience doesn’t last long. Teammates come running up quick, with offensive linemen ready to pull scorers out of the abyss. Beer stains come with it, but it’s a unique part of the Raiders playing experience.

“It’s like you’re a part of the Black Hole for a split second,” Richard said. “You jump up there and you just feed off of their energy. It’s pretty awesome.”

Receivers' drops kill Raiders offense's momentum in 34-3 loss to Jets

Receivers' drops kill Raiders offense's momentum in 34-3 loss to Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Raiders faced an early third down with 13 yards to go Sunday against the Jets, and the offensive line gave Derek Carr plenty of time to work the ball downfield.

The Raiders quarterback saw Tyrell Williams come free across the middle, well beyond the sticks with room to run after the catch. Carr delivered his pass accurately and on time, but it clanged off Williams’ hands just the same.

Fourth down. The Raiders had to punt.

“I just had my eye up the field a little too quickly," Williams said after the Raiders' 34-3 loss at MetLife Stadium.

That proved a golden opportunity missed and one of several quality passes that hit the turf.

Hunter Renfrow dropped an easy third-down reception on the game’s opening drive, though a first down would’ve been tough to get. Jalen Richard messed up a second-down pass that took the Raiders off schedule and contributed to a three-and-out.

“I know football well enough to know that those lead to the onslaught that we kind of got,” Renfrow said. “If we make those catches early, we could’ve kept it rolling.”

The Raiders had three obvious drops and a number of other plays left unmade by receivers. Tight end Derek Carrier couldn’t corral a deep pass down the sideline, going up with just one hand to try to make the grab. Williams couldn't muscle down a deep shot from Mike Glennon, leaving it unsecured long enough for the Jets to defend the pass.

[RELATED: Controversial Hurst penalty gave Raiders 'sinking feeling']

The Raiders' offense needed more and better from their skill players in the passing game. Drops and an inability to make contested catches cost Oakland dearly.

Players and coaches refused to use inclement weather as an excuse, taking full responsibility for a lack of play-making ability.

“When you get those opportunities, you have to take advantage,” Williams said. “It’s going to be tough no matter who you’re playing on the road, so you have to [capitalize].”