Del Rio hopes NFL schedule makers give Raiders 'a fair shake'

Del Rio hopes NFL schedule makers give Raiders 'a fair shake'

The Raiders have a tough slate ahead next season. Their 2017 opponents had a .564 winning percentage last year, with six games against 2016 playoff teams.

The strength of schedule ranks No. 4, only behind other AFC West rivals. They face the AFC East and NFC East, which also creates a difficult road slate for a team on the West Coast.

They travel to the Eastern time zone four times, with two more trips to the Central time zone. The Raiders also have an extra road game, with a home contest against the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots given to Mexico City.

The Raiders must deal with that adversity. Head coach Jack Del Rio hopes NFL schedule makers don’t add more when slates are revealed later this spring.

“I’m anxious to see what the schedule looks like when it comes out,” Del Rio said. “We’re going to the East (several) times this year. It’s going to be a challenge.”

Del Rio has asked for consecutive East Coast games close enough where the Raiders could stay out there and avoid one cross country trip. They were given one in 2016, where the Raiders stayed in Florida while playing Jacksonville and Tampa Bay back-to-back. The Silver and Black won both games.

“We have some things we’ve requested thst would better enable us to withstand what’s coming,” Del Rio said. “Part of that is a recognition of us going to Mexico. Regardless of how you paint it, it’s a home game for us. From a competitive advantage standpoint, we aren’t gaining one. We’re losing one.

“If you continue to go, that’s one thing. If you continue to go and give up home games and playing nine on the road, that’s a competitive disadvantage. Hopefully, in recognition of that, hopefully we don’t have other things like a Thursday night game two time zones away.”

The Raiders were the only team asked to do that last year. They traveled to Kansas City for a Thursday game in Week 14 without a bye before it, and laid an egg in a crucial contest.

“We want to make sure we’re getting a fair shake,” Del Rio said. “Hopefully we will.”

Carr discusses contract negotiations with Raiders: 'These things take time'

Carr discusses contract negotiations with Raiders: 'These things take time'

Raiders general Reggie McKenzie plans to extend quarterback Derek Carr’s contract this offseason. That isn’t a new thing, something that has been in the works for some time. He re-affirmed that fact last week, citing his team’s commitment to work out a long-term deal likely the biggest in franchise history.

Carr was reportedly frustrated with the pace of contract talks after the NFL draft – they’re supposed to heat up this spring and summer – but said he believes a deal will get worked out before training camp begins.

That’s his deadline for an offseason deal, the point where he wants focus honed on football.

“I have an agent who is in charge of that and I am confident that he and Mr. (Reggie) McKenzie will work it out,” Carr, a Fresno State alum, told the Fresno Bee. “I am only focused on becoming a better football player and helping my teammates become better players.

“I have complete faith it will get done before training camp. These things take time. The Raiders know I want to be here; this is my family, and I know they want me to be their quarterback.”

The sides have discussed parameters of a long-term deal, with greater specifics to be ironed out in the future. Carr has long said he wants to be a Raider his entire career. The Raiders want him as the public face of their franchise. A new deal is expected by all parties, a sentiment that has never wavered on either side.

Carr is scheduled to make a $977,519 in base salary in 2017, the final year of his rookie contract.

Raiders offseason program intensifies as OTA sessions begin

Raiders offseason program intensifies as OTA sessions begin

The Raiders offseason program is five weeks old. Players have lifted weights. They’ve improved cardiovascular shape. They’ve done drills in position groups and discussed schematics. They’ve added rookies to a group now 90 strong.

On Monday, they can finally put on helmets. They still can’t wear pads or have full contact, but the Raiders can play 11-on-11. Receivers will be covered. Quarterback Derek Carr will throw into traffic. Generally speaking, the competition cranks up a bit.

The NFL collective bargaining agreement has strict mandates regarding offseason activity, and a period formally called “Phase III” allows for more realistic on-field football work.

The Raiders will conduct 10 OTA sessions over the next three weeks. The media can watch three of them. Tuesday is the first, with another in each of the next two weeks. These sessions are technically voluntary, though the Raiders generally hover around perfect attendance. Head coach Jack Del Rio prefers his team be unified in the offseason. Players know it and show up.

There is a mandatory minicamp from June 13-15 which wraps the offseason program and starts a quiet period that extends until training camp begins in late July.

These OTAs offer an opportunity for new players to learn the system, for adjustments to be made and for chemistry to be built heading into a 2017 season where expectations are high.