Hellish week behind him, Allen focuses on football

allen_dennis_raiders_lookingup.jpg

Hellish week behind him, Allen focuses on football

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OAKLAND -- His eyes reddened and became moist.

His voice nearly cracked and, really, you could not have blamed him if it did.

Dennis Allen, the Raiders' rookie head coach, had just endured his sixth straight defeat on the football field. But it paled in comparison to what he lost on Monday night. Yeah, it's been a tough week for the 40-year-old, first-time coach.

"You know," Allen said, firmly, "I went home on Sunday and took my father off life support and that's not easy to do. So was it hard? Yeah, it was hard. But I know my father would want me to be here with this football team.

"And I wanted to be here with this football team. I'm sure you guys can imagine that it wasn't an easy situation."

Easy? Not even close. More like hard to fathom.

Yes, we know that the bottom line in the NFL is about wins and losses, and Allen would be the first to tell you that. Especially after Thursday night's maddening 26-13 loss to Denver. Thing is, Allen would be the last person to play the woe-is-me card.

Not even with the week he's just endured.

His father Grady, who played linebacker in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons from 1968 through 1972, was just 66 years of age and the seeming picture of health back home in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area. But last Wednesday, he was felled by a heart attack and fell into a coma.

The younger Allen knew of his father's ailment and plowed forward at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway, enduring the Rolando McClain situation and ensuing suspension before the Raiders' lackluster 20-17 loss to Cleveland on Sunday.

It was after that game that a Raiders official announced that Allen would be leaving the team to be by his father's side and return in time to coach the team Thursday night.

Then came the ridiculous and irresponsible rumors that somehow turned into full-fledged stories about Jon Gruden coming back to the Raiders.

Allen returned to practice Wednesday morning.

"You can't even imagine what he's going through," Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer said of Allen. "And then he's got to go back, after that game? Your heart just goes out to him. You never expect anything like that.

"I can't imagine how helpless it feels, being on the other end of the country when that's happening over there. I can't imagine what he's going through."

It has been a surreal season for the Raiders off the field. Defensive line coach Terrell Williams and his wife Tifini lost their four-year-old son Tyson to a sudden illness two days before the Baltimore game.

Allen will return to Texas Friday night and return to the Raiders in time to Wednesday's practice to prepare for the home finale against Kansas City on Dec. 16. I asked Allen about the support shown him this week.

"A ton," he said. "A ton. I received a lot of support from a lot of different people. This organization has been outstanding to me as far as that's concerned. The players, the coaches, as well as countless friends, family, even people around the league, have been very supportive in this situation."

And with that, Allen's eyes dried. After all, there was football to talk about and plans to be made. He’s a football man, like his father before him.

Raiders offensive lineman next in line for extension with Carr's deal done

Raiders offensive lineman next in line for extension with Carr's deal done

The Raiders locked up Derek Carr last week, signing their franchise quarterback to a five-year, $125 million contract extension.

He isn’t the only member of the 2014 draft class worthy of a raise. Edge rusher Khalil Mack will get a big one, likely at some point next offseason. The Raiders have some time with Mack after exercising a fifth-year contract option available for first-round picks.

General manager Reggie McKenzie didn’t have that luxury with Carr, and his 2014 second-round pick cashed in before formally entering a contract year.

Right guard Gabe Jackson could do the exact same thing. McKenzie prefers to draft, develop and reward homegrown talent, and the 2014 third-round pick should be next in line to do so.

McKenzie has said back in March that he’d like to extend Jackson’s contract, though there isn’t a deadline to do so.

“There’s no timetable,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “But, I alluded to earlier in the offseason that Gabe is one of the guys I want to get locked up.”

That could happen later this offseason, or further into training camp. Despite paying Carr an NFL-record $25 million in 2017, his contract is structured in such a way that there’s room for another offseason extension. That was important for Carr, that the Raiders can sign other members of this young core.

“We figured out a way to do it,” Carr said, “so that we have the opportunity to sign the other guys that I think are important to this organization.”

The Raiders have roughly $18 million in salary cap space after the Carr deal. Some of that is earmarked for the team’s top three draft picks, which remain unsigned to this point. A large sum could go to Jackson as incentive to sign up early, well before he’s eligible to hit the unrestricted free agency.

The offensive guard market is booming, with bigger deals going to a position group generally lower than other spots on the offensive line. The Raiders contributed to that inflation in 2016, signing left guard Kelechi Osemele to a five-year, $58.5 deal with $25.4 million in guarantees.

Osemele is one of eight guards with contracts worth $40 million or more, a list that includes two right guards. Jackson played left guard – the more valued position – until Osemele showed up. He moved to the right without complaint.

Jackson thrived there as well. He didn’t allow a sack in 2016, according to analytics site Pro Football Focus, with 27 quarterback pressures in 735 pass-blocking snaps. Jackson has been a strong run blocker as a pro, where he has started 44 games in three NFL seasons.

Finding proper value to entice Jackson to sign while remaining on budget is McKenzie’s next task, trying to keep a valuable offensive lineman in place for years to come.

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.”