Raiders don't tender QB Gradkowski


Raiders don't tender QB Gradkowski

March 7, 2011RAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEOPaul Gutierrez

So Bruce Gradkowski tells a Bay Area newspaper he was not offered a tender by the Raiders and theres a hint of shock?

No disrespect to Gradkowski, one of the classier guys in the Raiders locker room, but its no surprise the Raiders issued protective tenders to the likes of tight end Zach Miller and running back Michael Bush (both received first- and third-round tenders) and longsnapper Jon Condo (second-round) rather than to Bruce Almighty. All you had to do was pay mind to the mounds of praise heaped upon Jason Campbell by owner Al Davis and new coach Hue Jackson since the season ended and the backhanded compliment Davis paid Gradkowski while wondering aloud about his injury history.

I also realized that as good as Gradkowski is for a single game, we cant hold up the injury factor from happening, Davis said in his memorable Jan. 18 media conference. He incurs injuries, and that worries the hell out of me.
At the Combine, Jackson said he looked forward to Campbell leading the Raiders to a division title after a season of getting acclimated to his new surroundings.

Over the last half of the season, he did a tremendous job of leading our team and making the plays that big-time players have to make in this league, Jackson said of Campbell. So Im expecting him to take that next jump. Were an 8-8 football teamthis past year, but I dont anticipate or do I look for that to happen this year. I expect him to take us where we want to go.

As such, and with the trigger-happy Tom Cable long gone, there will be no quarterback controversy in Oakland in 2011. Campbell is the unquestioned starter. And while Gradkowski was too much of a professional to be a distraction in Cables QB Carousel, the journeyman quarterback has long let it known he does not consider himself a backup.

Last year, Gradkowski was 1-3 in his four starts, though he sparked the comeback victory against St. Louis; Campbell was 7-5 in his 12 starts and came off the bench to lead the comeback win against San Diego at home.

Cable so badly mismanaged the QB situation he turned Campbell into a sympathetic figure and Gradkowski into a teachers pet -- profiles neither man deserved.

REWIND: Oakland's 2010 QB quandary

It all adds up to a seeming end to Gradkowskis tenure in Oakland -- according to the Contra Costa Times article -- unless it does not.

Thing is, the tenders might actually be worthless in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. And if so, the lack of one assigned to a player would mean less than that.

Gradkowski, who worked as an NFL playoff analyst for CSN Bay Area in January, did not immediately return a message for comment. He complied a passer rating of 73.3 in two seasons in Oakland, with 2,066 yards on 53.7 percent passing, 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He will always be remembered by Raiders fans for his epic comeback victory at Pittsburgh in 2009, and for his two seasons ending prematurely due to injury.

Still, its hard to imagine Gradkowski -- a five-year pro who received a second-round tender last year -- returning to the Raiders without at least the chance to compete for the starting gig.

Plus, theres the speculation that a new CBA will set the bar at unrestricted free agency at four years, down from six. As such, Gradkowski would be free to sign elsewhere.

And that would leave the Raiders with just one quarterback under contract in Campbell as the contracts of Kyle Boller, Charlie Frye and J.T. O'Sullivan are expiring. Frye has a reputation as a coach-like backup in the QB room after spending all of last season on IR while Boller saw some reps and has a little history with Jackson.
VIDEO: Gradkowski's offseason workout

With Campbell entering the final year of his contract, could the Raiders then look at drafting a quarterback in the draft? Many mock drafts have Washingtons Jake Locker and Arkansas Ryan Mallett falling into the second round. The Raiders first pick is at No. 48, though many draftniks have them selecting Penn State offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski.

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.”