Season review -- Raiders OL

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Season review -- Raiders OL

It was one of the bigger question marks coming into the season and seen as one of the Raiders' biggest weaknesses. The offensive line was being rebuilt on the fly after losing veteran left guard Robert Gallery to free agency, coach Tom Cable to Al Davis' axe and had a second-year player at left tackle and a rookie to replace Gallery. But new O-line coach Bob Wylie molded the line together with more than glue and duct tape in switching from Cable's zone-blocking scheme. In fact, the line was a strength early on as Jason Campbell was only sacked twice through four games. And even after the midseason switch to Carson Palmer under center and losing Darren McFadden to injury and replacing him with Michael Bush, the Raiders still had the No. 11-ranked passing game in the NFL, the No. 7-ranked running game. It all starts up front with the grunts on the O-line.
Grade: B-OFFENSIVE LINEJared Veldheer -- A relatively unknown third-round draft pick coming out of tiny Division-II Hillsdale College in 2010, Veldheer made a huge leap in his second professional season. Charged with protecting the quarterback's blind side, the left tackle's crowning moment was his shutout of Minnesota's Jared Allen, who ended up leading the league with 22 sacks. Veldheer is starting to get national notice, as evidenced by the two All-Pro votes. Not bad for a guy that had a disastrous rookie debutat center.
Stefen Wisniewski -- Initially called the team's starting center from the moment he was drafted in the second round, No. 48 overall, out of Penn State, Li'l Wiz made the transition immediately to left guard and never looked back. But whenever Samson Satele was injured, Wisniewski made a seamless transition and, may observers claim, the Raiders running game operated more smoothly with him at center. An argument could be made that Wisniewski, who played every game, was Oakland's offensive rookie of the year.Samson Satele -- A somewhat surprising re-signing during training camp, it was assumed Satele was long gone, what with the Raiders moving on from Cable's zone-blocking scheme to a more power-blocking setup. Especially since, at 6-feet-3, 300 pounds, Satele is considered small for a center. But the fifth-year veteran helped settle the rest of the line and, though he was banged up, still started 15 games. Will be interesting to see if he returns or if the 6-3, 315-pound Wisniewski moves to center on a full-time basis.Cooper Carlisle -- Another surprise to return, what with his history as a zone-blocker, Carlisle nonetheless returned and had perhaps his finest season in his 12th year as an NFL lineman. In perhaps his finest performance of the season, the right guard limited Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to a mere two tackles on Dec. 18. Though Suh would have the last laugh when he blocked Sebastian Janikowski's 65-yard game-winning field-goal attempt. Might Carlisle have a 13th year in him?Khalif Barnes -- Remember when Barnes was brought here in 2009 to stabilize the left tackle position before a broken ankle scuttled those plans? Barnes is a survivor and he has instead found life on the right side of the line, starting all 16 games at right tackle. They say an offensive lineman is best doing his job when you rarely notice him. Unfortunately for him, Barnes had a penchant for picking up penalties in waves. Were referees picking on him due to his reputation, or is there something more at work here?Stephon Heyer -- A locker room cutup in the mold of Barnes, Heyer could also provide steady play at virtually every spot on the offensive line save center. In fact, he started once at left guard when Wisniewski moved to center in place of the injured Satele. That was the night Michael Bush rumbled for 242 all-purpose yards in a primetime affair at San Diego on Nov. 10. As a team, the Raiders rushed for 191 yards against the Chargers. No wonder many thought Oakland was better served with Heyer at LG and Wisniewski at center.Joe Barksdale -- The Raiders' third-round draft pick out of LSU is the team's right tackle of the future and his play did nothing to dissuade that notion. He was active for all 16 games and was a fixture on "jumbo" packages. In fact, he often played on the interior. Barksdale, like Heyer and Barnes before him, is a light-hearted soul in the locker room and fancies himself a deep thinker in Cyberspace with his popular Blog. But on the field, he is all business.Bruce Campbell -- The true mystery of the line. An absolute physical specimen at 6-6, 315 pounds with off-the-charts measurables, Campbell was only active for four games. None since Oct. 9 at Houston. Then-coach Hue Jackson said Campbell, the Raiders' fourth-round draft pick in 2010, simply fell behind in training camp due to injury and never got up to speed with his competition on the line. Still, while Campbell was being groomed as the right guard of the future, he moved back to tackle during the season.

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 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.”

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.”