Seahawks sign TE Miller away from Raiders


Seahawks sign TE Miller away from Raiders

Aug. 2, 2011


Paul Gutierrez

A late blitz from Seattle crushed the Raiders' hopes at re-signing free-agent tight end Zach Miller, who agreed to a reported five-year, 34-million deal with 17 million guaranteed with the Seahawks on Tuesday.

Miller, 25, visited Seattle on Monday and was wooed by the Seahawks brass, which includes Tom Cable, the former Raiders coach who is now Seattle's offensive line and assistant head coach. Miller said the Raiders were in constant contact with him and made an unspecified offer but acknowledged it would be fair to say Cable's presence in Seattle was the tipping point in his decision.

"Coach Cable gave me a call Saturday morning, I believe, and definitely made me feel wanted, how important I'd be to them," Miller told CSN California. "It wasn't about the money for us. It was about the way we felt and how positive things are going in Seattle.

"By no means was this easy. I was drafted by the Raiders, brought in by Al Davis, who was instrumental in the early part of my career."

But Miller was also swayed by his familiarity with Cable's offense the past two seasons and, also, the presence of former Raiders left guard Robert Gallery in Seattle.

"There's a trust and familiarity there," Miller said. "That played a big part."

Also, the 2007 second-round draft pick said he was "surprised" he had not been signed to a contract heading into the final year of his rookie contract.

"I was hoping for an extension, but it didn't happen," Miller said. "That's business."

Following the 2010 season, the first-time Pro Bowler was slapped with first- and third-round tenders, rather than the franchise tag, by the Raiders just before the NFL lockout struck.

And when the four-and-a-half month-long work stoppage ended, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulated that fourth-year veterans, rather than the previous sixth-year rule, would be unrestricted free agents.

It is purportedly one of the reasons Davis and the Raiders abstained from ratifying the owners' version of the CBA as Miller, Oakland's most productive and valuable offensive weapon the past three seasons, hit the open market. Ironically, Miller was the Raiders' union player rep.

It had been quiet for Miller, who had not been linked to any potential suitors, until this weekend. Enter Cable, who had been eviscerated by Davis in that epic January media conference presenting Hue Jackson as Cable's successor.

"I got a feel and the fit felt right with me and my wife," Miller said. "It felt like somewhere I was wanted and somewhere my wife and I could be."

Still, Miller said he was in "constant communication" with Jackson and Raiders tight ends coach Adam Henry.

While Miller was being wined and dined by the deep pockets of Seahawks owner Paul Allen, the long memory of Cable and the deft recruiting of Pete Carroll on Monday, the Raiders were finalizing a long-term extension with linebacker Kamerion Wimbley that alleviated some of Oakland's salary cap issues. The Wimbley deal would have purportedly allowed the Raiders to present a respectable offer to Miller and his people.

"I definitely had to take my time," Miller said, "with a decision as tough as this.

"Mr. Davis signed a lot of defensive players."

Miller is coming of a breakthrough season in what seems to be a Golden Era for tight ends in the NFL. He played in his first Pro Bowl after catching 60 passes for 685 yards and a career-high five touchdowns in 15 games. This despite missing one game with a foot injury and being limited in others.

The Raiders were off Tuesday, but after practice Monday, Jackson was asked about Miller.

"Zach was a Raider last year, we want him to be a Raider now," Jackson said at the time. "That thing is going to come to a head here soon. It has to. I feel good about where we are and, hopefully, hell get back to us, well get back to him, and well try to get something resolved.

Done. Just not to the Raiders' satisfaction.

In four seasons, Miller caught 226 passes for 2,712 yards and 12 TDs and developed into the Raiders' most dependable short-yardage threat on third down. Perhaps more impressive, he was starting to be mentioned in the same breath of former Raider great tight ends Dave Casper and Todd Christensen.

Now, Miller is "ghost," ala Casper.

Raiders' Carr, Mack promote unity, racial harmony during national anthem


Raiders' Carr, Mack promote unity, racial harmony during national anthem

OAKLAND – All eyes shifted to the Raiders sideline Saturday night when the national anthem played.

Yep, Marshawn Lynch took a seat. No shocker there. He did the same thing last week, and while he hasn’t addressed it specifically, the action is linked with other anthem protests bringing attention to mistreatment of minorities in the United States.

Bruce Irvin stood with his brethren but raised his fist, as he did several times last year.

Derek Carr stood right on the sideline, and put his arm on Khalil Mack’s left shoulder. That gesture wasn't happenstance. It carried a message. It wasn’t, Carr insists, meant to protest anything.

“We’re not doing anything like that,” Carr said after a 24-21 loss to the Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Coliseum. “We wanted to show the kids that look up to me, look up to him, white kids, black kids, brown kids, blue, green, it doesn’t matter -- all be loving to each other. We’re best friends and we’re loving to one another.

“The only reason we did that was to unify the people that look up to us because obviously you see what’s going on in the world. Obviously everyone pays attention to the national anthem nowadays. We just said that obviously this was the best time to do it while still honoring this country because I love this country. We’re free to live here and play this game but we’re also free to show that we love one another.”

Mack isn’t one to rock the boat. He and Carr wanted to make a statement without ruffling feathers, something that would remain positive while addressing racial issues prevalent in the news today.

“It’s discussed a lot,” Mack said. “It’s one of the things I feel passionately about but I just don’t like the tension that comes with it. But at the same time, just using our platform for positivity is what’s important to me.”

Offensive coordinator Todd Downing put an arm on fullback Jamize Olawale and echoed the Carr-Mack message. We’ve seen similar signs of unity across the league. Philadelphia defensive end Chris Long, son of former Raiders pass rusher Howie Long, put an arm around Malcolm Jenkins while he protested. Seattle center Justin Britt put an hand on Michael Bennett’s shoulder while he sat for the national anthem.

Those actions drew attention. Carr and Mack do the same.

Their star power increases the volume of their message. Carr’s an MVP candidate and the league’s highest-paid player. Mack is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. When they do something, people pay attention. That was their hope on Saturday, when the cameras would be aimed at them.

Carr and Mack are good friends off the field, and want to be an example of unity despite different races and backgrounds.

“I think that’s the message, the only message we were trying to get out,” Carr said. “Any kid, any family, any adult that follows us and looks up to us we knew their eyes would be on us and we wanted to show them for a white kid and black kid that grew up in different neighborhoods can grow up and love one another and be best friends.”

As legal process unfolds, Raiders CB Sean Smith continues to battle for playing time

As legal process unfolds, Raiders CB Sean Smith continues to battle for playing time

OAKLAND – Raiders cornerback Sean Smith had a rough week. He’s losing grip on a starting spot, but that concern pales in comparison to mounting legal issues that put him in a Los Angeles County jail Thursday morning.

He was formally charged with felony assault and battery for beating his sister’s boyfriend on July 4 in his hometown of Pasadena, surrendered to authorities and was released on an $80,000 bond.

He was back in the East Bay to play Saturday’s exhibition against the Los Angeles Rams, where he was a third cornerback entering in sub packages. Smith had two tackles and a nice pass defensed in the end zone.

Smith’s legal issues shouldn’t stop him from playing and practicing with the team in the near future. He has an arraignment sent for Sept. 29, where will plead not guilty and fight the charges levied against him.

“We’ll let him battle what issues he has legally,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I don’t have much to add to it. You hear the story of him defending his sister, and things occurred that have been taken issue with, so he's having to defend himself right now.”

An NFL spokesman said the league is looking into the matter, but didn’t have further comment at this time. It’s possible the league could place Smith on the commissioner’s exemption list, an option for players charged with violent offenses. He would essentially go on paid leave if that were the case. Smith will make $9.5 million in guaranteed money this season.

Smith will battle TJ Carrie and first-round cornerback Gareon Conley – he remains on the PUP list with a shin injury – for playing time in the Raiders defense. He practiced better last week, but must show consistency to get back in the team’s good graces.