MOBILE, Ala. -- They're in limbo, to put it mildly.Former members of the Raiders coaching staff -- yes, former members -- are attending the Senior Bowl here this week for many reasons. Though the most commonly-held belief -- that they are representing the Raiders -- is not one of them.Not for now, anyway.Not when the contract of every single member of the fired Hue Jackson's staff has expired, except for one, according to a source, and thus, the coaches are no longer employed by the organization and they have literally been locked out of the Raiders' Alameda facility.
No, they were not fired; their contracts simply ran out last week. All except for offensive coordinator Al Saunders, who is here wearing Raiders gear.Usually, Al Davis gave the assistants on a staff a two-year contract. But with the lockout last summer and so much uncertainly over the labor situation, Davis only gave them one-year deals, with the understanding they could all re-negotiate later in the season. But Davis' health worsened until he passed away on Oct. 8.New general manager Reggie McKenzie, meanwhile, had a brief meeting with the coaches after he was hired and told them that the new coach would have the power to hire his own entire staff, meaning if they wanted to stay, they'd have to interview with the new coach."We're unrestricted free agents," said one coach."We're just waiting to see what's going to happen," said another.So far, receivers coach Sanjay Lal has left for the New York Jets and assistant coachdefensive line Mike Waufle has also departed, purportedly for St. Louis, though the Rams have not confirmed his hiring.Seen here for the Senior Bowl this week -- Saunders, defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan, special teams coach John Fassel, assistant linebackers coach Ricky Hunley, assistant coachsafeties Kevin Ross and running backs coach Kelly Skipper.Seen representing the Raiders in the scouting effort -- Calvin Branch, Zach Crockett, Bruce Kebric, John Kingdon and Mickey Marvin.
The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.
They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.
Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.
“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”
While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.
The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.
“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.
"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”
Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.
Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.
Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.
“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”
Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.
“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”