Pryor excels, but there is no QB controversy


Pryor excels, but there is no QB controversy

OAKLAND -- The knee-jerk reaction will be to proclaim Terrelle Pryor as the Truth. The multi-faceted threat under center. The guy who should, gulp, start at quarterback for the Raiders in their season opener.

And if all you saw was a stat sheet after the Raiders' 31-20 defeat of Detroit in both team's third exhibition game on Saturday, it might be understandable. Except

There is no quarterback controversy in Silver and Blackdom. None. Not even after Pryor excelled and excited -- finally -- and starter Carson Palmer had another somewhat uneven day that looked uglier on said stat sheet.

Consider: Palmer was 17-of-26 passing for 181 yards and two interceptions for a 53.5 passer rating while Pryor was three-of-five for 137 yards and two TDs's and a 143.8 rating. Pryor also ran the ball five times for 90 yards, while Palmer was stopped for no gain inside the 5-yard line and was sacked once.

Now, I'm not saying Pryor's stats were fool's gold. Far from it. What he accomplished was indeed impressive, and his 59-yard run down the right side in the third quarter was breathtaking. But you must keep in mind what Pryor did, he did against backups and guys who will not be on NFL rosters in another week, while Palmer was running against one of the most fearsome front lines in the league, and moving the ball well. Even without two of his top receiving targets in Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford and the projected starting center in Stefen Wisniewski.

If nothing else, this should convince the Raiders' coaching staff it needs to incorporate a specific package for Pryor, to utilize his special talents in certain situations. Maybe even when the Raiders' offense stalls inside the red zone, as it has under Palmer.

"He's still a work in progress," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said of Pryor. "But I thought he made some strides today. He's not where we need him to be. He's not where he wants to be. But he made some progress."

And with a talent as raw as Pryor is, that's all you can really ask for in the preseason. Especially since backup quarterback Matt Leinart sat this one out with his injured right index finger.

"I felt real comfortable because when I was with the (third-team offense), I would get like 10 plays in practice," Pryor said. "That's not really enough for me that I can really get the feel for it. They say that you win games in practice, and I wasn't winning in practice with 10 plays. It's impossible.

"I'm not really getting the feel for the exact plays that I'm going to be running, whereas this week (practicing with the second-team offense) I did. It was good to get a few extra reps behind Carson. It was great."

Even if his first touchdown pass, the 39-yard toss to Juron Criner, was not. The ball was slightly underthrown but on target and Criner showed off his leaping and ability to adjust in the air to haul in the pass.

Pryor's second TD was a 76-yard catch and run by Criner, who shook off the defensive back trying to tackle him.

But hey, playmakers make plays, right? Palmer's two picks came on a misguided middle screen attempt to Taiwan Jones and on a pass to Eddie McGee that bounded off his hands.

Pryor was also intercepted, on an ill-advised pass into blanket coverage. Though it was nullified by penalty.

"I hate losing so much," Pryor said, "people won't play video games against me because I will throw the controller and break it, and then I have to buy another one. I'm fiery. Losing drives me crazy. I won't shake the other team's hand if they win. I don't want to look at them. I just hate failing."

Got it? Remember, this is the same guy who said he played like "dog crap" against Dallas in the exhibition opener. Beyond that, it's been a rough month for Pryor. His mentor, his father and even his dog -- "my best friend," he said -- have all died since just before training camp opened.

So yeah, Pryor feeling at home at having major success on a football field was a big accomplishment for him.

Just don't get it twisted. Take it for what it's worth and put it in your back pocket.

"I'm just so happy for him," Palmer said. "He works so hard and puts so much time in. To have the big plays that he made with his feet and the big throws that he made and the guys step up for him like Juron did, guys have so much confidence in him and I'm just happy for him. Proud of him."

As he should be. Just, don't get carried away. Yet.

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. 

Carr, Raiders both win with soon-to-be mega-deal done at right time

Carr, Raiders both win with soon-to-be mega-deal done at right time

If Derek Carr gets his $25 million deal from the Oakland Raiders and becomes the richest quarterback in National Football League history, the Raiders will have gotten a bargain.
Unless he gets hurt.
Or unless he turns lousy.
Or unless the NFL’s defensive coordinators decipher a way to strip him of his powers and render him McCown-tastic.
Or unless football happens in a hundred other ways, because of all the sports ever devised by wealthy man to amuse sedentary man, football taught cruelty to the landmine discus.
But the same can be said for any football player at any salary. Carr, on the other hand, is a qualified practitioner at a sport that has very few of them – maybe 10 if you’re looking at football, 119 if you’re trying to tot up all the quarterbacks who got contracts so Colin Kaepernick couldn’t.
That means he is a rare commodity, and the Raiders did the right thing by tying him up. The alternative, you see, is Kirk Cousins and the Washington Supreme Court-Mandated Native-American Heads.
Cousins was not signed when the Washingtons could have gotten him at a high but still reasonable rate, and now he is one year away from being franchised a third time at the hilarious figure of $34.47 million per year.
The lesson is clear. Nothing pays like procrastination, and by waiting to give Cousins what they knew they’d have to give him eventually for choosing him over Robert Griffin III, the Battling Snyders will pay through both nostrils, ears, eye sockets and mouth to keep him.
By signing Carr now, the Raiders have as much cost certainty as they can have at the position, and all they have to do now is (a) keep him stocked with supporting players and (b) keep him safe from opposing ones.
This isn’t easy, of course; most quarterbacks eventually end up in a fiery crash in Turn Two, and their ability to escape the mangled wreckage is the only thing keeping them from becoming part of the mangled wreckage.
So yeah, luck. Lots of luck.
On the other hand, the Raiders could have guaranteed that they would have had to overpay by a factor of 1.5 or maybe more by not signing him now, or they could have saved millions more by losing him entirely, which would have been just the gift for the discerning Las Vegas ticket holder who wanted an excuse not to buy tickets.
Essentially, Carr played the system brilliantly, and good for him since under most circumstances the system plays the players. Football players have a short enough career, and a shorter than average quality of life, so the rule of thumb should always be getting everything available and as much guaranteed as possible.
In fact, were I Derek Carr, I’d ask for ALL the money to be guaranteed just to set a standard for those who come behind me.
But if he’s happy – and let’s wait to see how much of this deal is actually guaranteed and how much is placed on a rug that will be pulled out from beneath him – and the Raiders are happy – and why wouldn’t they be? – then there’s nobody to complain, now, is there?
Now the Raiders of old would have screwed this up, and somehow Carr would have done so as well. But this team hasn’t done anything regally boneheaded since . . . well, trying to go to Los Angeles . . . or maybe hiring Dennis Allen . . . or . . . 
Oh, never mind. The point is, Carr was done at the right time, at the right number, for the right reasons, and both sides should be delighted.
And in nine or twelve or seventeen days when Matthew Stafford gets a deal that makes him a dollar more than Derek Carr . . . well, we’ll let the amateur accountants who think NFL contracts define players sort out that level of idiocy.