Are these Lechler's last days with the Raiders?

lechler_shane_raiders_cu_no_helmet_v11.jpg

Are these Lechler's last days with the Raiders?

Shane Lechler admitted this week that this, his 13th season with the Raiders, might be his final year in Oakland. And yes, the seven-time Pro Bowl and six-time All-Pro punter said the same thought crossed his mind before.

Once.

"Four years ago, I think," Lechler told reporters. "Signed the contract two days before free agency. I didn't hear anything from Oakland until then…and that was kind of a frustrating situation to be in."

Being made the richest punter in NFL history by Al Davis, courtesy of that four-year, $16-million deal in 2009, probably soothed any sore feelings. But that deal is expiring at the end of this season and Lechler will become an unrestricted free agent.

And with the new regime of Reggie McKenzie already showing it is not afraid to shed high salaries, how much would the Raiders be willing to pay a 37-year-old (next August) punter coming off a relatively so-so season? Even if Lechler and placekicker Sebastian Janikowski, both of whom were part of the same 2000 draft class, are favorites of owner Mark Davis.

Lechler, who underwent surgery on his left (non-kicking) leg this offseason and was slowed early, has only recently shown flashes of his booming punts that have made him the NFL's all-time leader in gross punting average as he entered the season with a career mark of 47.6 yards.

But his current gross average of 47.3 yards per punt is just 11th in the NFL and his net average of 38.3 is 23rd and his lowest since 2006.

Then there's the specter of the Raiders keeping highly-touted but raw undrafted rookie punter Marquette King on injured reserve after a weight-room accident
resulted in his left foot being placed in a boot late in camp. If Oakland is truly changing the culture, what makes more sense going forward -- a $4-million a year all-world punter who would probably not make much difference on a rebuilding team, or a malleable punter making basically minimum wage, which would free up money for other signings, who could grow with said rebuilding team?

"It was frustrating for a little while because this is my job, and it has been mine for 13 years," Lechler told the Oakland Tribune, referring to King's presence. "I took it a little bit personal early, but after that I was like, 'You know what? I can only worry about so many things around here.'

"That was one of them I needed to stop worrying about."

Besides, the first time he punts Sunday against Kansas City in the Raiders' home finale will be the 1000th punt of his career. And after playing in the AFC title game as a rookie, the Tuck Rule game his season season and in the Super Bowl his third year, Lechler has not experienced a winning season since. He has, though, seen his share of head coaches, from Jon Gruden to Bill Callahan to Norv Turner to Art Shell to Lane Kiffin to Tom Cable to Hue Jackson to Dennis Allen.

And yes, Lechler thinks his old recruiting host at Texas A&M, Allen, deserves to return, even with the 3-10 Raiders in a six-game tailspin.

"Yeah, I do," Lechler said. "I think D.A. is good for this job. He's got my full support. I think somewhere in here we're going to have to let that guy coach for a few years to figure it out. You know, I mean it's not much different than college football.

"You give a guy four years, you let him recruit players, let him develop his players and see how they are, instead of change and change and change. But this is Oakland, so…"

So, should the Raiders retain Lechler, or is King the future in Oakland?

Carr plans to spread new wealth after Raiders contract extension

Carr plans to spread new wealth after Raiders contract extension

ALAMEDA – Derek Carr isn’t one for extravagance. The low-key Raiders quarterback already has some nice cars, a house and some luxury items to his name, but signing a $125 million contract extension Friday morning might prompt a spending spree

Cornerback Sean Smith suggested he get a Bugatti. That’s a $1 million car.

“Yeah,” Carr said with a smirk. “That’s not going to happen.”

That isn’t the 26-year old’s style. Carr had a his own plan after signing on the dotted line.

“I’ve been eating clean,” Carr said. “I’ll probably get Chick-fil-A.”

That makes sense. This is a guy who celebrated his first NFL victory with a trip through a Carl’s Jr. drive-in.

There will be other purchases. His wife Heather will get something nice in the near future. His family will be taken care of for life.

After all that, Carr plans to spread the wealth.

“The exciting thing for me moneywise, honestly, is this money is going to help a lot of people,” Carr said. “I’m very thankful to have it, that it’s in our hands because it’s going to help people. Not only in this country, but in a lot of countries around the world. That’s what’s exciting to me.”

Carr and former Raiders running back Latavius Murray took a missionary trip to Haiti, an impoverished nation had a profound impact on him.

“I’ve been down to Haiti and I’ve seen some of those struggles that they have and the kids there, and my heart just… I cry sometimes thinking about it,” Carr said. “So, just knowing that we can go down there and make a difference and help, those are the kind of things that the money makes me kind of like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Because now we can really do some things to help a lot of people.”

He plans to support those in that area, in addition to global and domestic charities he has been involved with over the years. Don’t expect a press release accompanying every donation. Carr would rather keep those decisions private.

“I’m going to do my best to make sure no one knows what we do with it,” Carr said. “I’ll just say this, I can assure you that it’s going to help a lot of people. I’m not stingy. My business manager will probably be on me saying, ‘Hey man, that’s enough.’ I won’t get into when, how or why. It’s not all about that for me. It’s about making a difference. That’s what’s exciting for me is that we’ll be able to do that.”

Carr didn't want to 'take every single dime,' handcuff Raiders long-term

Carr didn't want to 'take every single dime,' handcuff Raiders long-term

ALAMEDA – Raiders quarterback Derek Carr signed a five-year contract extension Friday morning that will pay him $25 million in 2017 and $125 million over the life of the deal.

That’s a lot of scratch. Could’ve been more.

Carr received life-changing money. He didn’t want to handcuff the Raiders front office in the process.

“I just wanted to be a Raider,” Carr said Friday in a press conference. “It’s more than just a team to me. It’s family. The way it went down, it was easy. Both sides wanted it to get done, and it was about family members figuring out to get along. We figured out a way to do it so that we have the opportunity to sign other guys who are important to this organization. That was really important to me, not to just take every single dime that we could”

That list is long but it starts with homegrown talents Gabe Jackson and Khalil Mack. Jackson is up next, and could get locked up before the regular season starts. The Raiders have some time on Mack – his contract doesn’t expire until after 2018 – and Amari Cooper should be a keeper on down the road.

“The bottom line is we’re able to continue to move forward with it, keep all the players that we need to keep in the correct timing,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “This affords us to do that. We’re going to start on that ASAP.”

Carr got the deal he wanted. The 26-year old found market value and upped the ante for NFL quarterbacks a smidge while deferring some cash payouts – his big-time bonuses are broken up over two years -- to create windows of financial flexibility to sign other players. Carr’s percentage of the salary cap should decrease over time and won’t become an insurmountable burden to his employers. His deal won’t prevent the Raiders from keeping Jackson, Mack, Amari Cooper in time, or other vital veterans in house.

With Carr locked up, the McKenzie can work deals and the timing of them around his centerpiece.

Carr understands the NFL business and his role in the market, but he wants to maintain a competitive window as best he can and understands other guys will draw huge paychecks in the near future.

He’s scheduled to draw the NFL’s largest sum next season. A record $25 million is headed his way, though that total will decrease a bit in time and will certainly he surpassed by Matthew Stafford and possibly Kirk Cousins in the near future.

“I don’t care if they all do. We got our contract done, that’s all that matters to me,” Carr said. “The other thing that was important to me is that we didn’t worry about what other people were going to do or doing. I just wanted to get mine done and make sure that the team had, again like we talked about, flexibility to make sure my friends stay around.”

Carr was intimately involved in the negotiation process. Both sides said it was easy, wrapped up well before Carr’s training-camp contract deadline. Common ground was found in short shrift once talks warmed up – preliminary talks started months ago -- and a deal was ironed out that produced smiles on both sides once the deal was formally done.

Even after taking a relatively soft-line stance on dollars and the timing of payments – Carr could’ve been difficult all year and eventually forced a franchise tag – he’s still the league’s highest-paid player. His salary will now be compared with his stats. He was a second-round draft steal before. Now he’s a big-money player. In short, expectations will rise.

Carr insists it won’t add pressure to next year’s proceedings.

“You could give me a dollar, you could give me $25 million, it doesn’t matter,” Carr said. “To me, my No. 1 goal is to make sure that I give everything that I have to this organization. There’s no pressure. There’s no we’ll be on the 1-yard line and I won’t give it to Marshawn (Lynch), I’ll throw it. None of that stuff. I don’t care about the stats. That’s not my No. 1 objective. I don’t care if I throw 10 touchdowns next year. If we win every game, that’s all I care about.”