Nine potential Raiders GM candidates


Nine potential Raiders GM candidates

Green Bay director of football operations, and former Raiders linebacker, Reggie McKenzie reportedly interviewed for the vacant Raiders general manager on Wednesday. But a formal offer and acceptance cannot be made completed until after the Packers' postseason run is complete, meaning it might take until after the Super Bowl.As such, a look at nine football minds whose names have been bandied about, or are available, as the potential future Raiders G.M.

Reggie McKenzieThe seeming clubhouse leader, what with his history as a former Raiders linebacker and the purported endorsement of Ron Wolf, who has been working as an advisor behind the scenes to Mark Davis. McKenzie, who played for the Raiders from 1985 through 1988, has been in Green Bay's front office since 1994 and currently oversees the Packers' scouting of all professional football leagues and, per the team's Web Site,""is heavily involved in all of the team's moves on a daily basis, including all tryouts and transactions." He's ready to blossom and take that next step and, as a rookie G.M., would not come with an ego to clash with Hue Jackson. But as speculation has it, McKenzie might bring with him Packers assistant director of player personnel Eliot Wolf. Yes, Ron's son. And that could make Jackson twitchy.Bill PolianA six-time NFL executive of the year, Polian was let go this week by the Indianapolis Colts. He's built winners every where he's worked, from Buffalo to Carolina to Indianapolis. His reputation is one of building teams from the ground up, as he did with the Bills powerhouse of the late 80s and early 90s, the expansion Panthers, who were in the NFC title game in their second season, and, if course the Peyton Manning-led Colts. So, yeah, Polian has a rep that precedes him. But might that overshadow Jackson and create a rift between the coach, who was the de facto G.M. in the wake of Al Davis' passing, and Polian to great to bridge? And would Polian also bring his son Chris?Robert LondonWho? Exactly. But what London lacks in name recognition he more than makes up for in business acumen as one of the brightest NFL player agents out there. So bright he was rumored to be talking to the Raiders for the gig back in October. In that he's handpicked clients such as NFL leading rusher Maurice Jones-Drew of Jacksonville and Chicago's Matt Forte, London is seen as a shrewd talent evaluator. And because he's had mostly tranquil negotiations with his clients' teams, he is seen as "getting it." Of course, he'd have to divest himself of his agency to work as a G.M. But at least he knows how the other side thinks and feels.
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Eric DeCostaThe Baltimore Ravens director of player personnel is a rising star in the league's talent evaluation system. He joined the Ravens as an entry level grunt when the organization "moved" from Cleveland in 1996 and has been there ever since. Per the Ravens' Web Site, "DeCosta works with GM Ozzie Newsome to oversee both the college and pro scouting departments" and "served on the eight-member committee to interview and select Ravens head coach John Harbaugh in 2008." Then there's this: he is obviously familiar with Jackson from Jackson's tome in Baltimore as the Ravens quarterback coach.Tom GambleAs the 49ers' first year director of player personnel Gamble cut his teeth with the Niners as the director of pro personnel the previous seven years. He also has a pretty gaudy resume when it comes to helping develop playoff contending teams. In his 24-year career, Gamble has now been associated with 10 playoff teams, five in Indianapolis, four in Philadelphia and this year's 13-3 49ers team. He has a reputation as a shrewd talent evaluator when it comes to NFL free agents, which the Raiders might have to delve into with so few draft picks at their disposal at the moment.
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Les SneadA young up and coming star in talent evaluation, the former Auburn tight end in 1992-93 is in his 13th season with the Atlanta Falcons, his third as the Falcons director of player personnel. With the Falcons, he also oversees the team's college and pro scouting while playing a day-to-day role in the analysis of the team's roster while providing a salary analysis of every player acquisition. He also worked in the pro scouting department of expansion Jacksonville from 1995-97, the Jaguars going to the AFC title game in 1996. Snead is also familiar with Jackson, from his time in Atlanta as the Falcons' offensive coordinator in 2007.Scot McCloughanThe former 49ers general manager landed on his feet as the Seattle Seahawks senior personnel executive. Before his time with the 49ers, with whom he helped draft Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and Patrick Willis, McCloughan was with the Seahawks, helping craft a roster that went to the Super Bowl following the 2005 season. He also worked in Green Bay's scouting department in the mid-90s. The bonus? He is a Raiders legacy, of sorts, as his father Kent not only played defensive back for the Raiders from 1965-70, but was also a scout for the team for more than 30 years.
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Ron WolfI joke. Kinda. But the 73-year-old Wolf has already been acting in an advisory role, so why not pull a Dick CheneyRollie Massimino and say, Hey, I can't find anyone better than myself, why not hire me? Nah, probably not, but still. Many Raiders loyalists see Wolf as the true architect behind each of the Raiders' three Super Bowl championship teams. Lightning in a bottle, anyone?Hue JacksonI joke again. Kinda. But the moves and words coming from Jackson in his first year as a head coach at any level have been more of the G.M. variety than an X's and O's kinda guy. It wouldn't be hard to imagine Jackson promoting himself for the role to Mark Davis, considering how he said he wants to be a bigger part of the organization and knows what needs to be done to fix the roster. Sounds like a player personnel guy, right? This way, Jackson would have absolutely no one to answer to in a football operations situation. HueJack City to the extreme.

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 wanted to go early, but 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 many options at middle linebacker, and Lee will be allowed to compete for a starting spot. It’ll take a solid 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. Lee could well make an instant impact. 

“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.”