JBB’s Oakland Raiders Mailbag: Offseason Edition #5


The fifth offseason edition of JBB’s Oakland Raiders mailbag, answering questions sent to our Twitter account about the NFL Draft, Free Agency, Relocation and more.

With free agency in full swing, the NFL Draft in roughly a month and probable relocation just around the corner, there is a lot to talk about regarding the Oakland Raiders right now.

Raider Nation has questions, so let’s get to the answers.

Note: Some of the questions were duplicates or similar to other questions that had already been asked. If you don’t see your question specifically responded to, that is likely the reason why.

Before I answer the question, let me just say that I am in the camp that believes Clive Walford’s role changed when Lee Smith got hurt, so 2016 isn’t the best sample to evaluate him on.

But with that being said, even taking that into consideration, he is what he is. Walford is a big-bodied tight end with limited athleticism and spotty hands. He’s decent at best as a route-runner and he’s an average to slightly above average blocker.

I think the team knows that, too. If they believed that Walford was going to blossom into a true number one tight end, they wouldn’t have pursued Martellus Bennett, and they wouldn’t have signed Jared Cook.

Considering the Raiders won’t be in Vegas until 2019 at the earliest, but more likely 2020, we probably won’t even have to worry about Aldon in Sin City because he might not even be on the team then.

For one, his contract only runs through the end of this upcoming season. And since he can’t seem to stay out of trouble, he’ll be fortunate if he even makes it through the end of the year still employed. So let’s worry about Aldon getting back on the field this year, not three years from now.

In a perfect world, probably. The Raiders already have $78 million total invested in their top two cornerbacks, and even though they can get out of either contract after the upcoming season, spending a first-round pick on a corner is a tough ask. Especially if they won’t be playing on the outside, at least in the short-term.

Plus, the value at the position in those rounds is fantastic. At least in theory. Many of the second round cornerbacks have jumped into the first round conversation following the combine, just as many of the third round cornerbacks have jumped into the second round conversation. So if teams jump at these corners earlier than expected, the depth of the class could dwindle.

But still, I think Reggie should take his chances and wait until the second or third. Gareon Conley, Kevin King, Chidobe Awuzie, Rasul Douglas, Fabian Moreau, Adoree Jackson, Marlon Humphrey and others could all be in the mix. Again, several of those guys will surely end up in round one, but it’s a deep class. Even Sidney Jones deserves consideration despite his achilles injury.

This isn’t a big deal to anybody other than the suits of the NFL. This was only a friendly arm wrestling tournament consisting of current NFL players with a portion of the prize money going to charity. It was the first event of its kind.

But the league does have clear rules that no promotional events can be held at a casino, and the event took place at the MGM Grand. The NFL, in one of the only times they are ever consistent with anything, has remained steadfast in discipline for such events. Marquette King and Mario Edwards Jr. are the Raiders will be receive fines.

What’s shocking is that no one cleared this with the NFL. None of the players, none of the agents of the players or anyone else involved. They probably assumed they didn’t need to, but still.

With the Raiders headed to Vegas in a few years, this is a test of the policy, and there will be many more future tests. If teams and players can’t hold events at casino’s, as that’s the majority of the business in the area, I look forward to all future events held at the convention center.

Richard Sherman being traded to the Raiders absolutely will not happen. He’s owed roughly $27 million over the next two seasons, he’s 29 years old, and while he is still quite good, he isn’t the same elite player he was the last handful of seasons.

Plus, the compensation required to trade for him will likely be fairly high — at least a second round pick.

Let’s just see what happens with Marshawn, and if he forces Seattle’s hand by coming out of retirement. The Seahawks can’t afford him and will surely just have to cut him loose. But if McKenzie wanted to do business with his buddy John Schneider, maybe he’ll hand over a seventh round pick.

Reggie McKenzie touched on this during a recent press conference, saying that talks on the extensions of both Carr and Gabe will heat up after the draft.

The Raiders have about $31 million in cap space remaining, and according to Over The Cap, that’s roughly what the combined first-year cap hit will be for Carr and Gabe when they sign their new deals.

If the Raiders would be getting the Mychal Kendricks from two or three seasons ago, then this is a deal I would like to see get done. But not anymore.

Kendricks has found himself in trade rumors several times in the past, and that’s the case once again this offseason. But he wasn’t very good in 2016 — in fact, he struggled mightily. He dealt with some nagging injuries, but even so, most of that doesn’t excuse his poor play.

So this point, he seems to be vastly overpaid. He has cap hits of $6.6M, $7.6M and $8.6M million the next three seasons and he’ll be 27 early in the season. So his play on the field his trending down while his price tag is going up. And likely is on the tail-end of his prime.

Let’s hang onto DeAndre, who impressed in his rookie season and was fantastic down the stretch.

Derek Carr will win the MVP award in 2017. Khalil Mack will repeat as the Defensive Player of the Year.

Carr has had roughly 3,900 yards in each of the last two seasons, only missing the regular season finale in 2016. Downing is expected to open the offense up more, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Carr to have 4,300 yards, 35 TDs and 7 INTs in 2017.

Mack had 15 sacks in 2015 and 11 in 2016. He might not have too much help once again, so I’ll say he ends up with 13 in 2017. But he’ll be his usually dominant self in run support, and the attention he’ll command will once again draw the respect of the voters of the DPOY award.

If Marshawn doesn’t happen, the only realistic scenario I see happening in acquiring another running back would be through the draft.

Blount would seemingly fit in nicely in Oakland — he’d be a great complement to DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard, and he probably could produce similarly impressive numbers in this offense, behind this offensive line.

With that being said, this just feels like a Marshawn or bust situation for the Raiders. In the early days of free agency, maybe McKenzie already had Lynch in mind, but there has been zero connection between the Raiders and Blount.

That’s too rich for my blood. Way too rich.

Here’s the deal with Peppers. He isn’t very good in coverage and his ball skills are suspect. That’s not ideal for a safety. He also struggles to get off of blocks and often gets washed in run support. That’s not ideal for a linebacker.

The Peppers hype train grew because the versatility to play both of those positions a flashy trait that people love, even if that player isn’t very good at either of them. Add that to his offensive and special teams contribution and you get a player that’s on ESPN every single week.

I don’t doubt Peppers’ athleticism nor his love for the game. By all accounts, he’s a great person and a hard worker, and in the right situation, maybe he could thrive. But it’s hard to see that happening, and that right situation certainly isn’t Oakland. Ken Norton Jr. would have no idea how to use him, nor would anyone else who has a hand in the defense.

Must Read: Who Will Be the Slot WR in 2017?

So at 24, it’s an easy pass. At 56, it’s an easy pass. In the third round? Sure. I’ll bite.