Pro Bowl provides silver lining for Raiders stars

Pro Bowl provides silver lining for Raiders stars

Dec. 29, 2010RAIDERS PAGEGUTIERREZ ARCHIVEPaul GutierrezCSNBayArea.com

ALAMEDA And now, for the latest swig from the cup of bittersweet goodness flowing down the main canal in Silver and BlackdomThe Raiders beating Kansas City this coming weekend to go 6-0 in the AFC West, yet becoming the first team since the 1970 merger to fail to qualify for the playoffs after being perfect in their division, is so 2010.The postseason-less Raiders having three Pro Bowlers (Oaklands most so-named to the original team since 2002) and four more alternates tabbed for the NFLs annual all-star game? Pass the shot glass, but after raising them up to cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha (his fourth selection), punter Shane Lechler (sixth) and defensive tackle Richard Seymour (sixth overall, first in Oakland).I think that people are recognizing that were better, said Raiders coach Tom Cable. I think that people recognize that were a more talented team. Obviously, that shows that guys went out and performed at a pretty high level. Would like to see more, but that will happen as you start to win more and you become a playoff team."VIDEO: Tom Cable on the changing of the Raiders standards
Placekicker Sebastian Janikowski, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, running back Darren McFadden and tight end Zach Miller were the Raiders alternates.Im proud of all of them, Cable added, but I just think it says, Hey, were better and we have guys playing better.It just didnt translate into enough victories. Consider: the Raiders (7-8) have just as many Pro Bowlers on the AFC team as the playoff-bound Kansas City Chiefs (10-5), New York Jets (10-5) and Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4).First and foremost, having played in a lot of big games, its an ultimate honor to be recognized as a Pro Bowler, Seymour said. More importantly, we would like to play in the postseason a little bit more than playing in this game. Thats really going to be the next step for us and this football teamgetting over the hump, having a great offseason, a great draft, a great workout.Really just taking the next step as a football team and everybody on board taking that step together.Wait a minute. Seymour is due to become a free agent, the lack of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the looming threat of a lockout by the owners be damned. Sure sounds like he wants to return to the Raiders, right? Might he even do a little recruiting at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii?I definitely invite anybody to come in, to Oakland, said Seymour, acquired in a trade from New England for a first-round draft pick on the eve of the 2009 season. Its a great place to play. The fans are unlike any others in the league; theyre definitely committed and they want the same type players to play in this organization. The history of being here, the mystique of putting that Silver and Black on and representing the Raiders, its been a lifelong dream for me and, hopefully, it continues.Seymour, whose 5 sacks rank fourth on the team despite missing two games with injury, was slapped with the Raiders franchise tag last offseason.Obviously, you always want to be where youre wanted, Seymour added. If Im wanted (by the Raiders), Im definitely open for anything.RICHARD SEYMOUR PROFILE RAIDERS STATS
The Raiders two other Pro Bowlers, Asomugha and Lechler, have known nothing but Oakland as their NFL home since entering the league in 2003 and 2000, respectfully.Despite his relative lack of interceptions he has none this year, and just one in each of the previous three seasons Asomugha is still seen as one of preeminent shutdown corners in the game.You always want to have those numbers, he said. But two of the three corners going in dont have any interceptions (Asomugha and the Jets Darrelle Revis). So it says a lot about the respect that you have around the league.Ive been measured a little differently from other guys just because I dont get as many opportunities as they do. So, theres other factors like, what were the completions, and that sort of thing. Ive still been able to hold my own pretty well, so it means a lot.Lechler, despite an off year, is still leading the AFC in punt average (47.0, his lowest since 2005) and net average (40.6).What tweaked him, though, was his 2000 draft-mate Janikowski being passed over. Janikowskis 135 points lead the AFC and are 25 more points than those scored by Pro Bowler Billy Cundiff. But Baltimores placekicker has missed just three of his 27 field-goal attempts, compared to Janikowski going 32 for 40 on field goals.Not to have SeaBass after the year hes had, thats very disappointing, Lechler said. I know hes disappointed. Im disappointed for him. There would be a whole lot of head coaches around the league I guarantee would take him.They wont say it to their guys face, but they would take him over their guy right now. Thats just how it is. Thats just how good he is.Enough of the bitter. How about some more sweet in seven players recognized, so to speak?That just shows were headed back in the right direction and weve got this thing turned around, Lechler said, and were no more the laughing stock of this league.Asomugha agreed, pointing to the teams woeful 29-83 (.259) record from 2003 through 2009 as a cautionary tale. The Raiders have a chance to finish .500, though they let games against Arizona, the 49ers and Jacksonville slip away.Its great to see progress in the team, he said. Where weve been in the past to where were at now, its beautiful to see that, to see the guys still into it and still wanting to win games and us being capable of winning games.Progress is a beautiful thing. Its something that you can build off of. We have that.The Raiders as a team will take it with them to Kansas City this weekend. A select few will tote it to the Islands for the Jan. 30 Pro Bowl.

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 spotrac.com:

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.”