Houshmandzadeh signing a high-risk, high-reward move

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Houshmandzadeh signing a high-risk, high-reward move

HueJackson likes to play fast and loose.Since the death of Al Davis, the Raidersrookie head coach has swung a pair of eyebrow-raising trades, landing linebackerAaron Curry in a low-risk, high-reward deal and quarterback Carson Palmer in afranchise-altering swap that, if it works out to the Raiders advantage, will actually cost Oakland a pair of first-round draft picks.Tuesday's signing of free-agent receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, however, might bethe epitome of a high-risk, high-reward situation. And not becauseHoushmandzadeh is a diva, or a headcase wideout in the mold of Terrell Owens,Randy Moss or Chad Ochocinco. Because he's not. And not because Houshmandzadehinking a contract threatens the potential bounty of compensation picks theRaiders might receive in next year's draft. Even though it does.

Mostly, though, because his presence, and the manner in which Jackson pursuedHoushmandzadeh, could threaten the fragile balance and growing chemistrybetween the Raiders young receiving corps andtheir new quarterback. Especially if, as some have suggested, Palmer himselflobbied for a familiar target.The likes of Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy, Denarius Moore,Chaz Schilens and Derek Hagan could actually take the addition of a guy who hasnot played a down of football since January as a slight to their position groupand the work they have put in all offseason.When in fact, Murphy, Schilens or Hagan could actually face the chopping block,unless Jacksondecides to keep seven receivers.Truth is, Houshmandzadeh's resume is one the current group of pass catcherscould only dream of emulating.From 2004 through 2008, and with Palmer throwing him the ball, Houshmandzadehaveraged 89 catches, 1,012 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, including hismonster 2007 season, in which he caught an NFL-high 112 passes for 1,143 yardsand 12 TDs.Of course, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Houshmandzadeh has a history with Jackson, too, as he was his position coach in Cincinnati from 2004through 2006. In those three seasons, Houshmandzadeh caught a combined 241passes for 3,015 yards and 20 TDs.
Reached by text message early Tuesday evening, Houshmandzadeh said he was still at the Raiders' Alameda headquarters.
"In meetings tryn 2 learn offense," Houshmandzadeh texted.
Obviously, Jackson liked what he saw inTuesday's workout and feels he can bring some of that production out of the34-year-old Houshmandzadeh, who caught only 30 balls for Baltimorelast season, is still haunted by a costly drop in a playoff loss to Pittsburgh and toldScout.com he has already had four hernia surgeries.But at what cost?Financially, he's getting a prorated part of the 10-year veteran's minimum of 910,000,which should be about 482,000 for the final nine games. Not that bad a deal,really, if Houshmandzadeh, who will wear No. 84, provides Palmer with thatsecurity blanket-type comfort he could use and the offense benefits as aresult.Logistically, though, it could be counter-productive to the development of theyoung guys. And really, isn't the role of solid, possession receiver supposedto be filled by Schilens andor Hagan?Big risk, big reward. That's just the way Jacksonrolls these days.

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

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.”

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

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.”