Curry officially a Raider

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Curry officially a Raider

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders' trade for Aaron Curry is complete. The former Seattle linebacker passed his physical Thursday afternoon.
Curry didn't wait to alert the Raider Nation, issuing the following on Twitter."Raider Nation!!!!! STAND UP!!!!! RaiderNation RaiderNation RaiderNation Silver n Black JustWinBaby," is what the No. 4 pick of the 2009 NFL draft tweeted.Also, Raiders legacy linebacker Bruce Davis took to the social network site and announced he was being let go, the week after he blocked a punt in Oakland's emotional victory at Houston, in what appears to be the corresponding roster move.
"Twit fam, I regret to inform you that the Oakland Raiders told me today that they no longer need my services. I still love @RaiderNation," Davis tweeted.The Raiders have reportedly agreed to send a seventh-round pick in the 2012 draft and a conditional pick in 2013 to Seattle for Curry, who re-worked his initial six-year, 60-million contract before this season began. He can now become a free agent at the end of the 2012 season.On Wednesday, the Raiders tried out 10 players -- linebackers Prescott Burgess, Phillip Dillard, Stanford Keglar, Kevin Malast and Gerris Wilkinson; defensive backs Don Carey, Quentin Demps, Darcel McBath and DeAngelo Smith; and guard Chris Harr.The Raiders, obviously, found what they were looking for in Seattle.Raiders linebacker Darryl Blackstock is a close friend of Curry from their days playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Blackstock at Virginia, Curry at Wake Forest, and said Curry should not be labeled a bust."A.C.? That's my dog," Blackstock said."A lot of energy. I remember him as a recruit when I was at UVA, and he just brought a lot of energy. He's a great dude. Awesome, awesome football player. Awesome man. We've upgraded our team by getting him, just for the quality of a person he is."With the Seahawks, Curry struggled mightily against the pass. According to Stats, Inc., Curry has given up eight of eight passes thrown his way this season. In his career, opposing passers have completed 62 of 76 (81.6 percent) for 613 yards and six touchdowns against him.Curry does not have an interception in his career and opponents have a 126.6 passer rating against him.Troubling? If it is, the Raiders aren't letting on."He's athletic, he can run, he tackles, he takes on linemen, he takes on backs," said coach Hue Jackson. "I think he's a really good football player. Obviously I can't speak to what went on up there, but I know what's going to go on here. So I'm excited about getting him, once we can get everything done. It's hard to comment about everything when you know everything's not done, but hopefully things will get squared away here soon and we can move forward."Jackson was asked if Curry, who has primarily been a strong-side linebacker in his career, was varied enough to play multiple positions.You better know he is," Jackson said. "But I don't want to put him in a whole bunch of spots. I want to let him play one thing and let him become great because I think the guy has great talent."In college, Curry was a pass-rusher who caught Raiders speedster Jacoby Ford one time in a game against Clemson."It was me and him, just one on one and I tried to make a move and I spun and he wrapped my legs up," Ford said. "It was a good play. That's what great players do, they make plays and that's exactly what he is."With Seattle, Curry's responsibilities changed. And his production suffered."I've been in his shoes," Blackstock said. "You're this (certain) guy in college, then you have to adjust to a whole lot of different concepts at the pro level and if you don't do it to the quality of their liking, they call you whatever they want. Can the man play football or not?"Blackstock believes he can."Football is being in the right system. You have to adjust to something new and when you've been doing something for so long, it's like asking a receiver to play tight end...you get taken out of your element and the organization feels like your production is low, and they label you as a bust, or whatever they want. It has nothing to do with you as a football player. He's a football player."I watched him on film a couple of times, he was doing great to me, as far as the energy, how he was playing. How his assignments were, I'm not the coach or the one evaluating him."He'll be judged by the Raiders and their fans soon enough.

McKenzie: Osemele gave Raiders OL teeth, Nelson eased Woodson's loss

McKenzie: Osemele gave Raiders OL teeth, Nelson eased Woodson's loss

Raiders general manager built a foundation of talent heading into the 2016 offseason, but needed more to get his team over the hump. Draft picks were essential, and expected. He had significant salary cap space, where he could find some immediate impact players on the open market.

McKenzie signed six unrestricted free agents, a few of them at a hefty price. Most veteran imports worked out well, though some thrived more than others.

It was a solid group that, in addition to the 2017 draft class and some key undrafted pickups, helped McKenzie win the Pro Football Writers of America’s executive of the year award.

He singled out two members of the 2016 free-agent class that helped set the tone for a 12-4 regular season and the team’s first playoff berth since 2002.

Left guard Kelechi Osemele was the first. The former Baltimore Raven signed a record contract for interior linemen but was worth the price, adding attitude to the offensive line during an All-Pro season.

“I think Kelechi solidified our offensive line, from the standpoint of what we wanted from our run game, from a physicality standpoint, what we had always talked about from Day 1,” McKenzie said Thursday in a conference call. “He added to that and he put some teeth into the whole offensive mentality. I felt like that was an impact. I was happy to see him get his first Pro Bowl. That was good to see.”

McKenzie also highlighted free safety Reggie Nelson’s efforts. He signed late in the offseason for relatively cheap, but was voted a team captain after his first preseason as a Raider and helped the secondary function with confidence. That was required after losing the eminent Charles Woodson to retirement.

Nelson also had five interceptions and two fumble recoveries, including three takeaways that secured victory.

I thought Reggie [Nelson] made some plays and was a true leader back there. When we lost Charles Woodson, from the leadership standpoint, communication standpoint, I felt Reggie came in and did a solid job to help ease that transition. You can never replace a Charles Woodson, but he was able to help ease that transition, especially when we had a young rookie back there (in Karl Joseph).”

Let’s take a look at the Raiders unrestricted free agent class and how they fared:

LG Kelechi Osemele
Contract: 5 years, $58.5 million ($25.4 million guaranteed)
Impact:Osemele ranks among the league’s elite left guards, and brought a nastiness to the Raiders offensive line. He helped immensely in the run game, and didn’t allow a quarterback sack all season. He was a Pro Bowler and a first-team All Pro, the results McKenzie hoped for after offering Osemele a massive contract.

LB Bruce Irvin
Contract: 4 years, $37 million ($14.5 million guaranteed)
Impact: Irvin started slow but rounded into a dominant player and an excellent compliment to star edge rusher Khalil Mack. Irvin had seven sacks and an NFL-high six forced fumbles, showing enough versatility to play well in coverage and against the run.

CB Sean Smith
Contract: 4 years, $38 million ($15 million guaranteed)
Impact: Smith was benched in his first game, and struggled against Julio Jones in his second, but played better after than and largely well the rest of the year. His quarterback rating against was 114.0 and he allowed too many big plays. More is expected from a No. 1 cornerback. Smith had shoulder surgery after the season and vowed to be better in 2017.

FS Reggie Nelson
Contract: 2 years, $8.5 million ($4 million guaranteed)
Impact:Nelson wasn’t perfect in his first year as a Raider, but made some big plays during a Pro Bowl year. He had seven takeaways, including five interceptions, and some big hits in the clutch. He was a solid leader in the back who should be better with a year’s experience in a new system to his credit.

S Bryden Trawick
Contract: 1 year,  $675,000
Impact: Trawick was brought in to be a solid special teams player, and he thrived in that role. He was strong in kick and punt coverage, with a team-high 14 special teams tackles. He showed some defensive prowess late when forced into action, and the safety made some nice plays over the last two games.

LB Daren Bates
Contract: 1 year, $850,000
Impact: Bates is a special teams player first and, along with Trawick, helped anchor the coverage units. He had seven special teams tackles over the year.

Lott-led group still working to keep Raiders in Oakland, 'playing to win'

Lott-led group still working to keep Raiders in Oakland, 'playing to win'

SAN FRANCISCO -- Oakland civic leaders and deep-pocketed investors fighting to keep the Raiders from moving insist they are still in the game despite team owner Mark Davis formally applying to the NFL to relocate to Las Vegas.

A local investment group that includes Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott said Thursday they continue to negotiate with government officials, the team and the NFL to build a $1.25 billion, 55,000-seat stadium in Oakland.

"We are in this game and we are playing to win," Lott's group said in a statement. The statement said the Raiders' filing Thursday was expected and done to "keep its options open in Las Vegas."

The Raiders have been seeking to replace their dilapidated home for years. The Coliseum has suffered from sewage backups and other infrastructure problems. It's also the only remaining NFL stadium to also be home to a baseball team - the Athletics - and lacks many of the modern, money-making features of new stadiums.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has been negotiating with Davis and investors to find a new home for the team in the city but has said public financing is not an option. She and other local boosters support the bid by Lott's group to keep the team on Oakland.

"Only Oakland brings the Raiders and the NFL a competitive stadium proposal, along with legacy and loyalty," Schaaf said in a prepared statement.

The city and Alameda County still owe a combined $100 million for upgrades made to the stadium in 1995 to lure the Raiders back to Oakland after the team spent the 14 previous years playing in Los Angeles. The city and county were left holding the bag after personal seat licenses failed to cover the cost of the $220 million renovation that added more than 10,000 seats and luxury boxes.

The city is willing to give the team 60 acres of land on the Coliseum site to build a new stadium.

The local investors are competing with a Las Vegas plan that calls for $750 million in hotel room tax revenue, $650 million from billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson's company and $500 million from the Raiders and the NFL.

League owners are expected to vote on the proposed move in March.

Local boosters argue that Oakland offers a better football venue than Las Vegas, a transient tourist town with no professional football history. They say the San Francisco Bay Area's television market dwarves the Las Vegas region's and that it will cost the team $500 million to relocate.

"I think we continue to offer a far superior deal," said Scott Haggerty, president of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Haggerty is also on the board that manages the Coliseum.

"I think that Mark Davis has been very patient in trying to come up with a stadium plan and I don't blame him for keeping his options open," Haggerty said. "But the Raiders belong in Oakland."

Haggerty and others also say that a Raiders move out of the region threatens to alienate fans who re-embraced the team after it left Oakland after the 1981 season and played for 14 years in Los Angeles only to move back to the Bay Area.

Davis has said the team will continue to play in Oakland until the Las Vegas stadium is finished, likely by the 2020 season. The Raiders have two one-year options to play at the Oakland Coliseum in 2017 and 2018 and are already taking season ticket renewals for next season.

"I'm incredulous this could happen again," said 57-year-old Jim Zelinski, a lifelong Oakland resident and Raiders fan. "I'm disgusted, to be quite frank."

Nonetheless, Zelinski has co-founded a fan organization that is lobbying the Raiders and the NFL to keep the team in Oakland.

"We want to combat the narrative that most Raider fans are neutral and don't care if the team moves to Las Vegas," said Zelinski, who must decide by next month if he wants to renew his season tickets. "The Raiders need to do the right thing."