The message is clear: The Raiders need to get out of their own way


The message is clear: The Raiders need to get out of their own way

KANSAS CITY -- Some messages are easier to discern than others.This one was as clear as the crisp, cold day in Middle America.Get out of our way, the Raiders seem to be saying to anyone in their path. Even, and, yes, especially, the guys wearing Silver and Black.No wonder an exhausted Hue Jackson looked more relieved and, yes, somewhat disgusted, than happy when Sebastian Janikowski's game-winning 36-yard field goal split the uprights in overtime.

Sure, the Raiders had survived, 16-13, against the Kansas City Chiefs. But the agony they put themselves through before coming out on top was almost too much for Jackson to bear. Almost."I feel like I want to pass out," Jackson said as he took the podium for his postgame media conference. "I'm serious."Could you blame him?Not only had the Raiders turned away the Chiefs, Oakland also had to deal with, in their opinion, flag-happy referees. But perhaps most draining, they had to overcome themselves.The Raiders had a season high-tying 15 penalties, for 92 yards. They blew a beautifully-executed fake field goal for a 36-yard touchdown run by Brandon Myers when long snapper Jon Condo inexplicably let the play clock expire for a delay-of-game penalty. Then they missed the ensuing field goal. Later, they allowed the Chiefs to drive 80 yards in five plays and 1:53 to tie the game with 62 seconds to play."That's Raider football right now," Jackson said with a sigh. "That's the way it's been."I wish we could win 40-14, I do. We haven't had one of those yet. But at the end of the day, the bottom line is winning, and that's what this is all about."After all, when it came to crunch time, the Raiders settled down."This is not the time to have a penalty," quarterback Carson Palmer barked in the huddle. "If somebody gets a good jump and the snap gets by you, let them go. I'll get out of the way.'"You can't get backed up, especially in overtime."The message got across: Oakland did not have another penalty after Stanford Routt was called for defensive holding with 13:54 to play in regulation.And the message was clear after the Raiders won the coin toss heading into overtime."Oh, O.K.," receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said when he heard the play come into the huddle. "We're going for it."Lined up on the left in a two-receiver set, Heyward-Bey sold a post-pattern before running by free safety Kendrick Lewis down the sideline on a corner route.Palmer lofted a perfectly-placed ball, Heyward-Bey ran under it and had a 53-yard pickup, down to the Chiefs' 23-yard line."That was a hell of a call from Hue," Heyward-Bey said. "That took a lot of guts."Said Palmer: "It was just the right time to call it. I wanted it earlier, but we saved it for the right time."It was also the first play of overtime and was set up by Michael Bush's running on first downs throughout the game."Darrius has been through a lot," Bush said, "dropping balls, catching balls, and he made a big play."Bush then picked up five yards on a pair of carries and out trotted Janikowski for the win."That was Carson at his finest right there, in my opinion," Jackson said of the throw that set up the game-winning field goal. "And that's what he's got to be for this football team, and that's what I expect he will be for this football team. He's just got to keep pushing."And the Raiders have to stay out of their own way.Still, Jackson had an inkling things would be O.K.The rookie coach recounted a story of one of his last conversations with the late Al Davis."The man told me, he said, 'Hue, we will win it in the end,'" Jackson said. "And I believe that. I don't know how it's going to happen, but I know this much, I truly believe in a guy who was my leader, who told me that before he passed (away)."Minutes later, the spent Jackson, his playoff hopes still aloof, left the interview room, walking arm in arm with Raiders CEO Amy Trask.The message, indeed, was clear.

Raiders sign rookie OT Sharpe, LB Lee, all four seventh-round draft picks

Raiders sign rookie OT Sharpe, LB Lee, all four seventh-round draft picks

The Raiders signed several members of their 2017 draft class, the team announced on Friday. Later round picks put pen to paper following the first week of OTAs, which began on Monday.

Fourth-round offensive tackle David Sharpe and fifth-round linebacker Marquel Lee highlight this group of signings, as both players inked four-year rookie contracts.

All four seventh-round picks also signed their first professional contract. That group includes running back Elijah Hood, safety Shalom Luani, offensive lineman Jylan Ware and defensive tackle Treyvon Hester.

These deals aren’t hard to work out. The NFL and the league’s players union agreed on a rookie wage scale in the last collective bargaining agreement that slots salaries by draft order, which leaves little negotiating room within the set payment structure.

The team’s top picks remain unsigned, though they’ll get done in time. First round cornerback Gareon Conley, second-round safety Obi Melifonwu and third-round defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes remain unsigned.

Here’s a list of estimated contract values over a four-year rookie deal for each signed draft pick, per

OT David Sharpe (No. 129 overall): $2,986,415 total; $586,415 signing bonus
LB Marquel Lee (No. 168 overall): $2,653,693 total; $253,693 signing bonus
S Shalom Luani (No. 221 overall): $2,494,414 total; $94,414 signing bonus
OT Jylan Ware (No. 231 overall): $2,484,295 total; $84,295 signing bonus
RB Elijah Hood (No. 242 overall): $2,469,750 total; $69,750 signing bonus
DT Treyvon Hester (No. 244 overall): $2,468,601 total; $69,750 signing bonus

Marquel Lee gets to play for his father's favorite team: 'He started bawling'

Marquel Lee gets to play for his father's favorite team: 'He started bawling'

ALAMEDA -- Marquel Lee’s NFL draft weekend wasn’t always fun, a byproduct of high hopes unrealized. The former Wake Forest linebacker slid into Saturday and waited well into the fifth round before his phone lifted spirits.

A 510 area code brought Lee out of an emotional rut, one so deep he started wondering whether he’d get drafted at all.

“When I got the call from the Raiders, everything changed,” Lee said in the latest episode of NBC Sports California’s Raiders Insider Podcast. “I was so excited to play for this organization.”

Marquel Lee wasn’t the only one. His father jumped over the moon.

“He might’ve been more excited than I was,” Marquel Lee said. “He started bawling. I’ve never seen my dad cry like that.”

Corey Lee’s tears don’t come easy. He’s a no-nonsense military man who served 11 years in the Navy before entering the private sector. He was a strict but fair father and football coach who instilled the discipline and work ethic required for his son to realize great potential.

Corey Lee is also a lifelong Raiders fan. Seeing his son get drafted by his favorite team created a perfect emotional storm.

“I’m as die-hard as they get,” Corey Lee said. “When they called his name in the fifth round, it was such a great, powerful moment. There was some relief, because he worked so hard and sacrificed to reach this point. When families were on vacation, we were in summer camps and working out hard.

“Everything we did was to prepare him for the next level. I was so proud to see him achieve a goal he had.”

Corey Lee didn’t break down completely when Marquel Lee officially became the Raiders’ fifth-round selection. This proud papa let emotion overcome for a beat, and then darted for his bedroom. He returned to the party with a brand new Raiders hat and a No. 89 Amari Cooper shirt from his vast Raiders collection.

Marquel Lee threw on dad’s gear to honor his new team and the golden opportunity to play for a linebacker-starved Raiders team.

That wasn’t Marquel Lee’s first time in silver and black. He rocked a full Raiders uniform at age 2, complete with a helmet, football pants and a Tim Brown jersey.

He donned one again when rookies reported to the Raiders offseason program earlier this month. The full-circle moment wasn’t lost on Marquel, a man proud of his past and excited about an NFL future.

“There’s a picture of me in a Raiders jersey, pants and a helmet on my second birthday,” he said. “I look at it now and think, ‘Wow. It really happened.’ I’m wearing a Raiders uniform for real. My dream is becoming a reality.”

Corey Lee grew up a Raiders fan in Southern California, going to games with his family at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Pardon Marquel for not following in those footsteps. He grew up on the East Coast when Donovan McNabb was a superstar and gravitated toward the Eagles. Ray Lewis performed in Lee’s Maryland backyard and became an athletic role model.

Marquel watched tons of NFL football with his dad, complete games where father and son would talk about strategy and scheme. Marquel would watch game tape with his father at an early age and when Corey Lee deployed with the Navy, his mother Katanya – she, too, understood football -- made sure that practice continued.

Marquel Lee was armed with natural athletic gifts and cultivated knowledge of the game, allowing him play quarterback and middle linebacker as a junior at Westlake High in Waldorf, Md. His dad was a guiding light as youth instructor, a JV head coach and a varsity linebackers coach, but took steps to separate family and football.

“As a father, I never would allow him to call me dad on a practice field or anywhere,” Corey Lee said. “I was always ‘Coach’ during the season, whether we were at home or at practice, because I wanted to keep him in that mindset.”

Football was a primary focus back then, when the family often traded summer vacations for skills camps. Despite buzz around Marquel’s talents, Corey was against his son doing interviews with recruiting websites or ranking services. Father wanted his son’s head on straight, and it has remained that way. 

Top schools were slow to come around, but gravitated after Marquel fully recovered from a torn patella and stood out early in his senior year. He chose Wake Forest, a commitment his father wanted upheld even with late interest from other programs.

His growth continued as a collegian, and took a real spike during the 2016 season. Wake Forest’s defensive captains graduated, leaving him to assume a leadership role and put team over stats. Lee considered his junior season at Wake Forest subpar, and vowed to do better.

“I was pressing a lot, trying to rush my time and trying to get to the NFL,” Lee said. “I was on a road where I thought I wanted to leave (school) early. I was so hard on myself, especially if I didn’t produce. That’s why I said it was subpar. I don’t think I played like a team player that year.

“(The next season) I made a decision to finish what I started and be the leader I always knew I could be. I wanted to help my team get to a bowl game. I hadn’t played in one. That was a major part of me coming back in 2016. … I grew up a lot. I feel like I gained respect as a team leader, and really understood what it took to own that responsibility.”

Lee might have major responsibilities as an NFL rookie. The Raiders don’t have quality options at middle linebacker, and Lee will be allowed to compete for a starting spot. It’ll take an excellent spring and summer to earn it and give the Raiders confidence to hand an important starting spot to a rookie. The Silver and Black could add a veteran to that position group, though they have high hopes for their fifth-round pick.

“We definitely think he has the potential to start,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said in an interview with 95.7-The Game. “He’s a long ways away from that. We haven’t even begun to get the pads on, so a lot will be determined in training camp and the preseason. So far, he has looked very good.”

Lee considers himself well prepared for the challenges ahead, and believes he can compete at the professional level.

“I’ve been getting ready for this a long time,” Marquel Lee said. “My dad has been telling me that this experience will be different. It’s not like college anymore. It’s a job, and I have to be mentally prepared for everything I’m about to do. I’m here and I’m learning and I’m trying to do my best.”