Del Rio expects Conley, Melifonwu contract issues 'to be resolved shortly'

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Del Rio expects Conley, Melifonwu contract issues 'to be resolved shortly'

Raiders rookies have reported to Napa for some pre-training camp instruction. Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu are not among them.

This year’s top draft picks remain unsigned as activity ramps up toward the first full-squad practice on Saturday. Every practice, meeting or moment of instruction is important for young defensive backs expected to make an immediate impact.

It is, however, still early in the season preparation process. Head coach Jack Del Rio isn’t concerned about his first-round cornerback Conley or his second-round safety Melifonwu being away long term.

“These are issues that should get resolved shortly and they’ll join the team,” Del Rio said Tuesday in an interview with 95.7-FM The Game in San Francisco. “It’s one of those situations where, years ago, ...those were issues. Holdouts could last the whole camp and into the season. The structure is in place now (with the NFL’s rookie wage scale), and we expect these things to get resolved shortly and they’ll be getting their work in.”

There isn’t much wiggle room in rookie contract negotiations these days, which is why just four NFL draft picks remain unsigned at this stage.

Conley’s legal issues, however, could be considered complicating. The No. 24 overall pick was accused of sexual assault stemming from an April 9 incident in Cleveland.

The Cuyahoga County District Attorney’s office has said the investigation is ongoing. Conley’s lawyer did not return a call seeking comment.

There is no timetable to complete the process. Conley has maintained his innocence, and passed a lie detector test just before the draft. The Raiders have stood by their selection from the start, confident in their pre-draft research that Conley will be cleared of wrongdoing and be a productive member of the squad.

Del Rio said that’s still the case several months later.

How life has changed for Derek Carr after record NFL contract

How life has changed for Derek Carr after record NFL contract

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is the NFL’s highest paid player. Most everybody knows that. His five-year, $125 million contract extension was big news inside Raider Nation and out, setting franchise and league records for new money and salary in a single season.

Carr has significant guaranteed money at signing and even more locked for injury, with a few balloon payments already come due.

That has created some awkward moments since formally signing a new deal.

“It’s kind of weird,” Carr said in Monday interview on The Dan Patrick Show. “I love helping people and doing special things, especially in the spur of the moment, even for random strangers, but now people look at you when you walk in a restaurant and wonder, ‘is he going to buy my meal?’ Not if you ask, you know?”

Members of the restaurant industry might also get excited at the sight of Carr in their section, but a new contract shouldn't change that. The Raiders quarterback says his tipping strategy has long been sound.

“I’ve always been very generous,” Carr said. “My wife worked in the restaurant business. She was a waitress, so I know how that goes. I’m always generous. I want to honor the people that take care of us, but it’s so weird that people know your salary. They probably think it’s more than what it is because they forget about taxes, but they say, ‘Man, you could get an island,’ and it’s like, ‘No. No, I can’t.’ (laughter) People say these random things. ... We’re very fortunate and blessed, but it is a different thing when you walk around and people can look up exactly what you make.”

Carr said he planned to splurge on Chik-fil-A shortly after signing his new contract. Carr said he hasn't splurged on anything huge, but he did pay off an IOU to his older brother David Carr from when they started a gym and football school in the Central Valley.

“When we started our gym, there was a small thing we wanted to get. And this was before I got drafted or anything, I said to put it on my tab,” Carr said. “We kept a running total and I never paid it for four years, and so finally he said, ‘remember that thing you said to put on your tab? It’s time to pay for that.’”

Raiders rookie calls out Chiefs,'I know we can stop them'

Raiders rookie calls out Chiefs,'I know we can stop them'

The Raiders have a long, storied rivalry with Kansas City. It’s been a little lopsided of late.

The Chiefs have won five straight, including every meeting in the Jack Del Rio era. Those results helped funnel AFC West titles to Kansas City the last two years.

The Raiders hope to fair better in 2017. One new addition believes they will. Second-round safety Obi Melifonwu said the tides will turn during an Monday morning appearance on NFL Network.

“With all the guys we have this year, with everybody that’s coming back and with everybody we’ve added, our coaching staff and everybody that’s been really for the cause I think we can stop them,” Melifonwu said. “Actually, I know we can stop them.”

Melifonwu could play a part in that. They’ve struggled defensively against Kansas City, with major issues containing star tight end Travis Kelce. The Raiders hope his mix of size and speed can hinder tight end production. Odds are good he’ll be used in sub packages as a hybrid linebacker/safety to deal with tight ends and running back. Kelce will be one of the toughest coverage assignments of the season.

“Travis Kelce is a receiver in a lot of ways,” Melifonwu said. “His route stem is really good. He’s a guy that’s a vet who knows how to get open. I have my work cut out. It’s a challenge, but I love challenges. I’m looking forward to it.”