In what amounted to two parts intervention, two parts interview, free-agent running back Cedric Benson told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday that the Raiders were one of two teams, along with Green Bay, to have shown interest in him thus far this offseason.He also said he had talked to some players in Oakland about the new regime and culture shift. Alas, Benson, who has rushed for a combined 3,429 yards and 19 touchdowns the past three seasons, remains unemployed some two weeks before training camps open."I think I can make any situation work.," Benson told Adam Schein and former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon. "I'm not against anything. I just want to play ball. I just want to be on a team that wants to win football gamesand if either one of those teams (the Raiders and Packers), if that's their main goal and their main focus, it will work. Those situations can work."For it to work in Oakland, though, Benson would most likely have to take what he sees as a below-market salary.Because while the Raiders did find some relief by signing the franchised Tyvon Branch to a more cap-friendly longer-term contract this weekend, it is not known exactly yet how much more space they cleared. It is thought, though, to have given them up to 3.5 million in space at the moment, and they still have two unsigned draft picks in offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom and receiver Juron Criner.But while new Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has shown a willingness to dole out incentive-laden one-year deals as he reboots the team, Benson balked at the notion of accepting a one-year contract for the veterans minimum, which is 825,000 for seven- to nine-year vets for 2012."I think it's only fair and only right on my behalf and on my team's behalf," he said, "tobe paid according to what I've achieved and what I'm capable of doing."So money is a factor?"Why shouldn't it be?" Benson said.And there you have it."I'm 29 years old now," he said. "I'm in my prime now. I'm a man nowI'm a guy who performs in the fourth quarter. I was raised on being able to do everything."Benson referred to himself as an "old-school" running back in the mold of Emmitt Smith, Thurman Thomas, Ricky Watters and Barry Sanders."Those guys played from the start of the game to the end of the game, they made it through the season," Benson said. "They stayed healthy. That's what I grew up watching. That's kind of my mentality."Later in the interview, which lasted nearly 33 minutes, Benson got choked up when talking about his past, which has included legal and attitude problems in Chicago and Cincinnati, and if that might be what is keeping teams away from him."Granted, I've had some run-ins off the field, but they're behind me now," he said"There's going to come a point where I'm going to take what I get; I'm going to make the best of it, regardless of the situation."So should the Raiders kick the tires on Benson again, or are they set at running back with Darren McFadden, Mike Goodson and Taiwan Jones?
ALAMEDA – Marshawn Lynch didn’t bring his helmet to Tuesday’s OTA practice. Didn’t need it then, or on Monday.
Not for a cameo appearance during individual drills. The veteran running back wasn’t available during team sessions, and spent most of the two-hour practice working in the team’s performance center.
Lynch skipping full-speed work isn’t cause for alarm. First of all, it’s May. Second, Lynch is in great shape but still ramping back up after a season away from NFL football. It would make sense to ease him back in during the spring.
Head coach Jack Del Rio didn’t say when Lynch’s activity would increase, but wasn’t concerned one bit about Lynch’s limited OTA participation – he routinely skipped them while playing in Seattle -- and praised the Oakland native’s level of involvement in the Raiders offseason program since a new contract was worked out and his rights were acquired from Seattle on April 26.
“He’s coming along. He’s doing great. There are no issues there,” Del Rio said. “He has been here like he said he would. He has really been committed. He said, ‘Coach, this is home for me. It’s not like I’m going home and I won’t be here. He is committed to being here and is excited to be a Raider. We’re excited to have him.”
Lynch was on the practice field for some team periods analyzing plays with offensive teammates, and was working out with them after the session. Del Rio didn’t delve into when Lynch’s on-field activity would increase, but there’s no reason to rush a veteran player who ultimately must be ready come September.
“He’s doing great,” Del Rio said. “He’ll continue to do the things we’re asking him to do. He is really soaking up the system, and has done a great job fitting in.”
That’s clear. He gets on well with left tackle Donald Penn and kicker Sebastian Janikowski, and gravitates toward fellow former Seahawks like edge rusher Bruce Irvin and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. General manager Reggie McKenzie said last week Lynch was already entrenched in the Raiders locker-room culture, which was evident in how teammates talked about him.
“Getting Marshawn has been great,” Penn said. “He brings a lot of energy here and a lot of momentum. It feels good having him here. We joke around a lot, having fun. You all probably don’t know Marshawn, but he’s a pretty funny guy. He’s really cool, and it’s good having him around here.”
Raiders general Reggie McKenzie plans to extend quarterback Derek Carr’s contract this offseason. That isn’t a new thing, something that has been in the works for some time. He re-affirmed that fact last week, citing his team’s commitment to work out a long-term deal likely the biggest in franchise history.
Carr was reportedly frustrated with the pace of contract talks after the NFL draft – they’re supposed to heat up this spring and summer – but said he believes a deal will get worked out before training camp begins.
That’s his deadline for an offseason deal, the point where he wants focus honed on football.
“I have an agent who is in charge of that and I am confident that he and Mr. (Reggie) McKenzie will work it out,” Carr, a Fresno State alum, told the Fresno Bee. “I am only focused on becoming a better football player and helping my teammates become better players.
“I have complete faith it will get done before training camp. These things take time. The Raiders know I want to be here; this is my family, and I know they want me to be their quarterback.”
The sides have discussed parameters of a long-term deal, with greater specifics to be ironed out in the future. Carr has long said he wants to be a Raider his entire career. The Raiders want him as the public face of their franchise. A new deal is expected by all parties, a sentiment that has never wavered on either side.
Carr is scheduled to make a $977,519 in base salary in 2017, the final year of his rookie contract.