Gutierrez: Raiders under cap; who will they target?

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Gutierrez: Raiders under cap; who will they target?

Aug. 17, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVE
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Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comRapture preacher Harold Camping had next-to-nothing on the Raiders salary cap doomsday prophets two weeks ago. Oakland was anywhere from 10 million to 17 million over the cap a day before the Aug. 5 deadline to get its payroll to 120 million.A restructure here -- think Richard Seymour -- a restructure there -- hey, there's Stanford Routt -- and a long-term deal to wipe out an 11-million franchise tag -- paging Kamerion Wimbley -- and, voila!According to numerous reports, the Raiders on Tuesday had 5.1 million in cap space.
Fuzzy math? Or just the Raiders doing what they do best in keeping players they want to keep? I'm going to go with a little of both.So with some money burning a hole in Al Davis' pocket, and with some definite needs on the roster -- especially in the secondary, at weak-side linebacker and on the offensive line -- what should Davis do? Should he dangle some of this coin in the direction of free agents who are just as established as they are currently unemployed? And if so, who should be his targets? The feeling here, though, is that Davis likes his starters and would be hesitant to bring in a guy to compete for the job. Rather, he might continue to bring in second-tier guys, as he's done since camp began.I put up a poll on my Facebook page and those that voted were in favor of securing the services of safety Darren Sharper. A look, then, at those free agents you voted for, and a pro and con for each when it comes to the Raiders' potential interest.Safety Darren Sharper (31.8 percent)Pro: A five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro with a Super Bowl ring, he brings a wealth of experience with him. Besides being known for his soft hands -- he led the NFL with nine interceptions in 2009 -- Sharper is also one of the most feared hitters in the game.Con: Sharper is 35 years old, a dinosaur in today's NFL. And he is a free safety by trade. The Raiders just paid a boatload of cash to starting free safety Michael Huff.Linebacker Kirk Morrison (15.2 percent)Pro: He's from Oakland and spent the first five years of his career with the Raiders before being traded to Jacksonville in 2010 so a homecoming, of sorts, would no doubt re-energize him.Con: Where would he fit? He's been a starting middle linebacker most of his career so would he be able to stomach being a back-up to Rolando McClain? Or could he make the adjustment to the weakside?Linebacker Lofa Tatupu (14.4 percent)Pro: An absolute warrior, even if he's a tad undersized for a middle linebacker, Tatupu is also the consummate professional and a team leader others gravitate toward.Con: Similar to Morrison, Tatupu is a middle linebacker by trade, so how would this work? Undersized at MIKE, that might hurt him at WILL, right? And his coverage skills in the flat are suspect.Right tackle Jon Stinchcomb (12.9 percent)Pro: He was a Pro Bowler for the Super Bowl XLIV champs from New Orleans and would presumably be an immediate upgrade over either Khalif Barnes or rookie Joe Barksdale. Plus, he knows of Oakland, what with older brother Matt a former Raider lineman.Con: He's somewhat damaged goods, coming off a season-ending left quadriceps tear last season. And the ninth-year vet has a lot of mileage on him having started 80 straight games at one point and also enduring a ruptured right patella tendon in 2005.Receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh (9.9 percent)Pro: He's already worked with Raiders coach Hue Jackson, who referred to him as his "son" from their time together in Cincinnati. And Houshmandzadeh had a career-year in 2007, catching 112 passes for 1,143 yards and 12 touchdowns.Con: Houshmandzadeh seems to excel when he's a No. 2 receiver, as he was with the Bengals behind Chad Ochocinco. So expectations of his stepping in and being No. 1 might weigh him down.Cornerback Kelvin Hayden (9.9 percent)Pro: A wily six-year vet with the experience of not only winning a Super Bowl with Indianapolis, Hayden also returned an interception for a touchdown in the Colts' defeat of Chicago that day. He'd bring experience to a young cornerback group.Con: Hayden is a pure zone-defense corner. The Raiders play almost exclusively man-defense. Think DeAngelo Hall. Next.Receiver Terrell Owens (6.1 percent)Pro: Desperate, needy and always willing to go across the middle for a pass, Terrell has something to prove.Con: Despite his numerous football talents, T.O.'s ego is even bigger and would be a threat to rock the Raiders' young and impressionable receiving corps' good vibe.

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 won't 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, especially Heather and sons Dallas and Deker, 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 the star quarterback.

“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.”