Just win baby -- Raiders rally to top Texans

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Just win baby -- Raiders rally to top Texans

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HOUSTON -- Coach Hue Jackson sank to his knees, buried his face in his hands and finally released the emotions he'd been holding back. Up in the visitor's suite at Reliant Stadium, Mark Davis wiped away tears with a paper towel and glanced to the sky.The Oakland Raiders won the day after their maverick owner Al Davis died, beating the Houston Texans 25-20 on Sunday behind Jason Campbell's two touchdown passes.Michael Huff intercepted Matt Schaub's pass in the end zone on the final play, and the Raiders ran to celebrate a bittersweet victory unlike any other in the storied history of the franchise.Al, this one's for you."One thing coach (Davis) always taught me was he said: 'Hue don't believe in plays, believe in players and eventually the players will make plays for you,'" Jackson said. "And that's what I did. I could just hear him saying that to me the whole time. Believe in your players and not the plays."Stadiums around the league observed a moment of silence before the early games to honor Davis, who died at his Oakland home at age 82. His son, Mark, took his place in the owner's box, and the Raiders wore black decals on the backs of their helmets with "AL" written in silver letters.They were statistically dominated by Houston, outgained 473-278 and held to 11 first downs and 94 yards rushing. They still managed to do the only thing that ever mattered to Davis.They just won, baby."We know he's looking down on us right now," Huff said. "This win is for him. I appreciate everything he's done for this organization. He's never gone in our eyes. We'll never let him go. He's with us."Sebastian Janikowski kicked four field goals, and Oakland hung on to improve to 3-2. The Raiders drafted Janikowski in 2000, only the third time a kicker had been taken in the first round."He was looking over us," Janikowski said. "I was feeling good and hitting everything in warmups."Schaub threw for 416 yards and two touchdowns but missed star receiver Andre Johnson, who sat out with a right hamstring injury. The Texans (3-2) still had a chance to win with under a minute left, facing a third-and-23 from the Oakland 39.Schaub scrambled and found tight end Joel Dreessen open at the 5, and Schaub spiked the ball with seven seconds left. Instead of trying to run for the winning score, Schaub lobbed a pass to Jacoby Jones, and Huff stepped in to pick it off."My mobility wasn't limited at the time," Schaub said, "but I'm not necessarily a guy that's going to make a whole lot of guys miss in the open field."For Oakland, a messy victory never felt so good."This is a new beginning for this football team," Jackson said. "We don't care if they're ugly, we don't care if they're pretty. We just don't care. Our No. 1 purpose when we play is to win."We all had coach tied to our hearts today."The Raiders pulled off a fake punt that Davis would've loved to keep momentum in the fourth quarter.After the Texans stopped Darren McFadden on third-and-1, Rock Cartwright took the snap and raced 35 yards to the Houston 25. Janikowski kicked a 42-yard field goal with 10 minutes left for a 25-17 Oakland lead.With no Johnson to target, Schaub threw six consecutive incompletions during one stretch of the final quarter."We've got to do a better job," receiver Kevin Walter said. "We've got to do a better job at making plays when it really counts."Neil Rackers' 40-yard field goal cut Oakland's lead to 25-20 with 2:56 left, and Houston's defense held to give the offense one more chance.The Raiders flew to Houston on Friday, then learned Saturday morning that Davis had died. Jackson gathered his players for an emotional meeting at their hotel.Jackson was surprised how emotional he got after Sunday's game."I thought I had it all out the other day," he said. "Obviously I didn't. I know he's looking down on this team and he's with us every step of the way."It didn't look promising after the Texans scored a touchdown on their opening series for the third straight game.Arian Foster had a 20-yard run against the league's 29th-ranked run defense, and Walter caught a short touchdown pass with 8:15 left in the first quarter.Oakland, meanwhile, needed a turnover and blocked punt to generate early points.Defensive end Lamarr Houston intercepted Schaub's pass, which was deflected, setting up Janikowski for a 54-yard field goal. Oakland got the ball at the Texans 39 after Daryl Blackstock blocked Brett Hartmann's punt, but the Raiders stalled again, and Janikowski kicked a 55-yarder to make it 7-6.Janikowski is 5-for-6 on attempts 50 yards and longer this season, including one from 63 that tied an NFL record.Oakland was lucky to trail only 14-12 at the break after producing only four first downs in the opening half.Notes: Houston DE Mario Williams and FB James Casey left with pectoral muscle injuries. Texans coach Gary Kubiak did not know the severity of either injury. ... Raiders TE Matt Giordano left with a concussion. ... Schaub has thrown a touchdown pass in 13 consecutive games, a franchise record.

Carr didn't want to 'take every single dime,' handcuff Raiders longterm

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Carr didn't want to 'take every single dime,' handcuff Raiders longterm

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.”

Raiders finalize five-year contract extension with Derek Carr

Raiders finalize five-year contract extension with Derek Carr

Derek Carr is now the NFL's highest paid player. The Raiders quarterback agreed on terms of a five-year, $125 million contract extension a source confirmed on Thursday morning, keeping the franchise's public face in silver and black through the 2022 season. 

Carr confirmed the agreement on Twitter early Thursday. 

"Now it's done!" Carr wrote. "From the jump I've wanted to be a Raider 4 life. One step closer to that! Blessed!!! Business done! Let's just play now!!!"

Carr was set to make a $977,515 base salary in 2017, the final year of his rookie contract. Carr's raise is significant, and underscores his value to the franchise. Carr's $125 million extension includes $70 million in guaranteed money and $40 million fully guaranteed at signing -- the portion not fully guaranteed is guaranteed for injury -- a source said. The deal features $25 million in the first year -- there's a $12.5 million signing bonus -- with $67.5 million over the first three years, according to ESPN's Dan Graziano.  

Carr's deal resets the quarterback market -- Matthew Stafford may do so again soon -- with an annual value above Andrew Luck's previous record extension. The Colts quarterback signed a five-year, $122.9 million extension last year, which Carr has now exceeded. 

The complete contract structure is not yet known, but a somewhat delayed payout plan is expected due to two key factors. The largest is Carr's desire to see other star Raiders receive extensions, and his deal gives the team some flexibility to keep important players in house. The Raiders will also move to Las Vegas by 2020 at the latest, where there is no state tax. California residents max out at a 13.3-percent tax rate, meaning his money will be worth more later in the deal.  

The 26-year old's ultimate goal was to maximize earnings without handcuffing the organization, and that's setting up well. His deal will help the Raiders that regard, though the team has also budgeted to extend several members of their young core. They have financial flexibility in future seasons and upfront salary cap space, though productive drafts are required to remain competitive as the cash gets gobbled by Carr and others in coming years.

The Raiders were always confident the Carr extension would get done this offseason, and the deal was finalized well before the quarterback's self-imposed training camp deadline. Carr's camp had discussed parameters of an extension months ago, but talks heated up in the last few weeks and ended up with an agreement that locks Carr down. 

The Raiders also hope to extend two more members of a star-studded 2014 draft class. Right guard Gabe Jackson is next in line, and could get a new deal this offseason and edge rusher Khalil Mack will get a massive contract at some point in the near future. Jackson's entering a contract year, but the team exercised a fifth-year option that creates more time to get a Mack deal done. Amari Cooper has some time under his rookie deal -- it could last through the 2019 season -- but the Raiders want to pair him with Carr for several seasons.