First-half storyline: Special teams coach John Fassel was a relative hot commodity in the offseason, with at least the San Diego Chargers interested in interviewing "Bones." But Al Davis stood fast and kept Fassel on staff. And why not, with the most prolific punter and placekicker already on the roster in Shane Lechler and Sebastian Janikowski and a Pro Bowl long-snapper in Jon Condo re-signed, the core of the special teams unit would only improve under Fassel, right? Well, they got off to a fast start but have sputtered of late, especially in coverage. Blame it on so many new faces being shuttled in and out due to an alarming rash of injuries, including a strained left hamstring to Janikowski that cost him a game. Still, special teams were supposed to be a strength of this team but at the midway point, they seem to be in transition, along with the rest of the club.MVP: Janikowski. The man known as "SeaBass" may have missed the Kansas City game with that injured kicking leg, and he did not look close to being a full-go against Denver this past weekend, but he is still leading the Raiders in scoring with 58 points. He has converted all 19 of his PATs and 13 of his 14 field-goal attempts, including five of six from 50 yards or longer and his NFL record-tying 63-yarder at Denver in the season opener. Before the leg injury, the 12th-year veteran seemed a cinch to get his fist Pro Bowl nod, as he was also consistently providing touchbacks on kickoffs. Anytime the Raiders crossed midfield, they deemed themselves in scoring position with his powerful leg.Biggest surprise: Yes, that was kick returnerreceiver Jacoby Ford running down and making a tackle as the punt team's gunner against Denver. Also, weakside linebacker Quentin Groves played well on coverage units the weak after losing his starting job.Biggest disappointment: Rookie Denarius Moore is averaging just 7.9 yards per punt return and has has looked unsure in doing that.Best play: Leading Cleveland by 10 points late in the third quarter and set up for a 53-yard field goal attempt, Lechler took the snap and as Janikowski approached for the kick, Lechler stood up and found a streaking Kevin Boss for a 35-yard touchdown pass on the fake. The score put the Raiders up 24-7 and they'd need it to hold on for the 24-17 victory in which the Browns had the ball in Oakland territory in the closing seconds. Without that TD and merely a field goal, the Raiders would have led by just 20-17 and the Browns could have attempted a game-tying field goal.Worst play: Already reeling from blowing a 10-point third-quarter lead and letting Tim Tebow tie the game, the Raiders allowed Eddie Royal to break a punt return 85 yards for what turned out to be the Broncos' game-winning touchdown on Sunday. It was Royal's first punt return of the season.Key to the second half: Janikowski's injured left leg.
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 won't 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, especially Heather and sons Dallas and Deker, 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 the star quarterback.
“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.”
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.”