Raiders key matchup No. 1: Gaither vs. Newton


Raiders key matchup No. 1: Gaither vs. Newton

Editor's note: This is the final part in a series that spotlighted three Raiders-Panthers matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m. (CBS), at Bank of America Stadium.

[MATCHUP NO. 1: Raiders vs. easter time zone]

[MATCHUP NO. 2: Mike Goodson vs. Luke Kuechly]

Raiders MLB Omar Gaither vs. Panthers QB Cam Newton

Tale of the tape
Gaither (53): 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, seventh season, Tennessee
Newton (1): 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, second season, Auburn

CHARLOTTE -- So, is Cam Newton more "icon," or "entertainer" for Carolina?

The Raiders figure to get a full dose of both Sunday, as well as Newton's athletic blend of power and speed. It will be a familiar sight for middle linebacker Omar Gaither, who spent last season with the Panthers.

"He's big and fast," Gaither said. "If he were playing a different position it would probably be (defensive) end. And a guy who can run. He has every tool you need in a quarterback, and he can beat you with his feet. So you basically need to keep him in front and contain him on the edges.

"You see the highlights every week of him getting a 60-yard scamper. Those are the kind of things that kill your defense. You just have to contain him."

Indeed, not only is Newton leading the Panthers in passing with 3,461 yards through the air, he is also Carolina's leading rusher, running for 647 yards thus far. Only three other players in league history have led their respective team in both categories in a season, Bobby Douglass, Randall Cunningham (four times) and Donovan McNabb.

"You have to have your antennas up every play, every down," Gaither said. "So it's not like, OK, third down, they have a running quarterback, let's spy him. No. Because he might take off on first down with the read-option.

"That's just the challenge that that team presents for us. Steve Smith is still rolling. Those running backs are good. But you've got to stop Cam."

Newton was so frustrated early in the year that he jokingly said he needed a "suggestion box" from media and fans to help him get out of his slump. Apparently, it worked.

In his last five games, Newton has thrown 10 touchdowns without an interception and has a 109.8 passer rating in that time frame. In his last seven games, he has 17 TDs (13 passing, four rushing) and two turnovers. He has not thrown an interception in his last 152 pass attempts, dating to Nov. 11, the longest such active streak in the NFL.

And having thrown for 7,502 career yards , Newton needs 373 yards to eclipse Peyton Manning for most yards passing in a player's first two NFL seasons. He also has 21 rushing touchdowns, the first quarterback in NFL history with at least 20 rushing TDs in his first two years.

Only running backs Arian Foster (24), Adrian Peters (23) and Marshawn Lynch (22) have rushed for more touchdowns the past two seasons/

"He's a 'wow' player," Gaither said. "Some stuff you can't practice for it. It's like if you're playing against Kobe (Bryant), you know what he can do, but somehow he still hangs 40 (points) on you. You've got to contain him, keep him bottled up and not let him (break one).

"Maybe if he gets a five-, six-, seven- or eight-yard scamper here or there, that's fine. Just don't let him go for 50. And that's kind of what you have to do with him."

Carr plans to spread new wealth after Raiders contract extension

Carr plans to spread new wealth after Raiders contract extension

ALAMEDA – Derek Carr isn’t one for extravagance. The low-key Raiders quarterback already has some nice cars, a house and some luxury items to his name, but signing a $125 million contract extension Friday morning might prompt a spending spree

Cornerback Sean Smith suggested he get a Bugatti. That’s a $1 million car.

“Yeah,” Carr said with a smirk. “That’s not going to happen.”

That isn’t the 26-year old’s style. Carr had a his own plan after signing on the dotted line.

“I’ve been eating clean,” Carr said. “I’ll probably get Chick-fil-A.”

That makes sense. This is a guy who celebrated his first NFL victory with a trip through a Carl’s Jr. drive-in.

There will be other purchases. His wife Heather will get something nice in the near future. His family will be taken care of for life.

After all that, Carr plans to spread the wealth.

“The exciting thing for me moneywise, honestly, is this money is going to help a lot of people,” Carr said. “I’m very thankful to have it, that it’s in our hands because it’s going to help people. Not only in this country, but in a lot of countries around the world. That’s what’s exciting to me.”

Carr and former Raiders running back Latavius Murray took a missionary trip to Haiti, an impoverished nation had a profound impact on him.

“I’ve been down to Haiti and I’ve seen some of those struggles that they have and the kids there, and my heart just… I cry sometimes thinking about it,” Carr said. “So, just knowing that we can go down there and make a difference and help, those are the kind of things that the money makes me kind of like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Because now we can really do some things to help a lot of people.”

He plans to support those in that area, in addition to global and domestic charities he has been involved with over the years. Don’t expect a press release accompanying every donation. Carr would rather keep those decisions private.

“I’m going to do my best to make sure no one knows what we do with it,” Carr said. “I’ll just say this, I can assure you that it’s going to help a lot of people. I’m not stingy. My business manager will probably be on me saying, ‘Hey man, that’s enough.’ I won’t get into when, how or why. It’s not all about that for me. It’s about making a difference. That’s what’s exciting for me is that we’ll be able to do that.”

Carr didn't want to 'take every single dime,' handcuff Raiders long-term

Carr didn't want to 'take every single dime,' handcuff Raiders long-term

ALAMEDA – Raiders quarterback Derek Carr signed a five-year contract extension Friday morning that will pay him $25 million in 2017 and $125 million over the life of the deal.

That’s a lot of scratch. Could’ve been more.

Carr received life-changing money. He didn’t want to handcuff the Raiders front office in the process.

“I just wanted to be a Raider,” Carr said Friday in a press conference. “It’s more than just a team to me. It’s family. The way it went down, it was easy. Both sides wanted it to get done, and it was about family members figuring out to get along. We figured out a way to do it so that we have the opportunity to sign other guys who are important to this organization. That was really important to me, not to just take every single dime that we could”

That list is long but it starts with homegrown talents Gabe Jackson and Khalil Mack. Jackson is up next, and could get locked up before the regular season starts. The Raiders have some time on Mack – his contract doesn’t expire until after 2018 – and Amari Cooper should be a keeper on down the road.

“The bottom line is we’re able to continue to move forward with it, keep all the players that we need to keep in the correct timing,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “This affords us to do that. We’re going to start on that ASAP.”

Carr got the deal he wanted. The 26-year old found market value and upped the ante for NFL quarterbacks a smidge while deferring some cash payouts – his big-time bonuses are broken up over two years -- to create windows of financial flexibility to sign other players. Carr’s percentage of the salary cap should decrease over time and won’t become an insurmountable burden to his employers. His deal won’t prevent the Raiders from keeping Jackson, Mack, Amari Cooper in time, or other vital veterans in house.

With Carr locked up, the McKenzie can work deals and the timing of them around his centerpiece.

Carr understands the NFL business and his role in the market, but he wants to maintain a competitive window as best he can and understands other guys will draw huge paychecks in the near future.

He’s scheduled to draw the NFL’s largest sum next season. A record $25 million is headed his way, though that total will decrease a bit in time and will certainly he surpassed by Matthew Stafford and possibly Kirk Cousins in the near future.

“I don’t care if they all do. We got our contract done, that’s all that matters to me,” Carr said. “The other thing that was important to me is that we didn’t worry about what other people were going to do or doing. I just wanted to get mine done and make sure that the team had, again like we talked about, flexibility to make sure my friends stay around.”

Carr was intimately involved in the negotiation process. Both sides said it was easy, wrapped up well before Carr’s training-camp contract deadline. Common ground was found in short shrift once talks warmed up – preliminary talks started months ago -- and a deal was ironed out that produced smiles on both sides once the deal was formally done.

Even after taking a relatively soft-line stance on dollars and the timing of payments – Carr could’ve been difficult all year and eventually forced a franchise tag – he’s still the league’s highest-paid player. His salary will now be compared with his stats. He was a second-round draft steal before. Now he’s a big-money player. In short, expectations will rise.

Carr insists it won’t add pressure to next year’s proceedings.

“You could give me a dollar, you could give me $25 million, it doesn’t matter,” Carr said. “To me, my No. 1 goal is to make sure that I give everything that I have to this organization. There’s no pressure. There’s no we’ll be on the 1-yard line and I won’t give it to Marshawn (Lynch), I’ll throw it. None of that stuff. I don’t care about the stats. That’s not my No. 1 objective. I don’t care if I throw 10 touchdowns next year. If we win every game, that’s all I care about.”