Sense of urgency palpable for Raiders

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Sense of urgency palpable for Raiders

ALAMEDA -- The sense of urgency is palpable in the streets of Silver and Blackdom.Beat San Diego on Sunday, and the Raiders have a realistic shot at playing in the postseason for the first time since 2002, under a rookie coach in Hue Jackson. Lose to the Chargers, and the Raiders will watch the playoffs on television for the ninth straight season."It's fun to me," said receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. "Every game should be a sense of urgency. I just look at it as, if we want to get in the playoffs, we need to win the game, period. It should be fun and exciting for everybody.
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"I'm sure Hue will have a message for us but as for myself, I try to have a sense of urgency all the time. It might not look that way or seem that way, but I do. And I try to tell guys, I haven't been to the playoffs much, but you can't really describe the experience that comes with it. When you're not in the playoffs, I watch. And the majority of the guys here haven't been to the playoffs, (so) they watch. So what I try to tell them is everybody's going to be watching, you kind of get your chance to get on the big stage and have fun and make plays."In his 11th NFL season, Houshmandzadeh has played in three playoffs games -- Jan. 8, 2006 for Cincinnati, and last Jan. 9 and Jan. 15 for Baltimore. He has eight catches for 91 yards and a touchdown in the playoffs, but a memorable drop for the Ravens against the Steelers last year.Indeed, heading into the final weekend of a season with a shot at the playoffs is unchartered territory for many Raiders players."It's definitely good that we're still in it, but I think it will be even worse if we go in and fall flat on our face on Sunday," said Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt. "I knowwe need help from Kansas City to beat Denver, and the other scenarios for the wild card, but I think if we go out there and we don't handle business on Sunday, then it doesn't matter who wins the other games if we dont take care of ours."Players, like fans, have looked high and low for every possible scenario that would get the Raiders into the Super Bowl tournament.And they're not apologizing for it, either."Yeah, I mean, when you want it as bad as we do, you're not staying out of tune and out of sync with what's going on," said left tackle Jared Veldheer. "You've got to be aware of the situation. But first thing's firstwe have to win on Sunday."With so many games that affect the Raiders' lot kicking off at the same time, there is the chance of some serious scoreboard watching during the game. Right?"I mean, you see the stuff come up," said strong safety Tyvon Branch. "They have the NFL Red-Zone popping up all the time on Jumbotron. So you're obviously going to see it, but you're more focused on the game than what's going on (around the league)."Still, the guy who's been in the playoffs said there would indeed be some wandering eyes. At least two, anyway."Yeah, yeah. I'll watch," Houshmandzadeh said with a laugh. "You know, I'm human. I'm not going to be one of those guys that says, 'I won't be paying attention.' I will."But all of that doesn't matter if we don't win, so the bottom line is, if we win, and we don't get in, it hurts, but at least you handled your part of the deal."

Raiders offensive lineman next in line for extension with Carr's deal done

Raiders offensive lineman next in line for extension with Carr's deal done

The Raiders locked up Derek Carr last week, signing their franchise quarterback to a five-year, $125 million contract extension.

He isn’t the only member of the 2014 draft class worthy of a raise. Edge rusher Khalil Mack will get a big one, likely at some point next offseason. The Raiders have some time with Mack after exercising a fifth-year contract option available for first-round picks.

General manager Reggie McKenzie didn’t have that luxury with Carr, and his 2014 second-round pick cashed in before formally entering a contract year.

Right guard Gabe Jackson could do the exact same thing. McKenzie prefers to draft, develop and reward homegrown talent, and the 2014 third-round pick should be next in line to do so.

McKenzie has said back in March that he’d like to extend Jackson’s contract, though there isn’t a deadline to do so.

“There’s no timetable,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “But, I alluded to earlier in the offseason that Gabe is one of the guys I want to get locked up.”

That could happen later this offseason, or further into training camp. Despite paying Carr an NFL-record $25 million in 2017, his contract is structured in such a way that there’s room for another offseason extension. That was important for Carr, that the Raiders can sign other members of this young core.

“We figured out a way to do it,” Carr said, “so that we have the opportunity to sign the other guys that I think are important to this organization.”

The Raiders have roughly $18 million in salary cap space after the Carr deal. Some of that is earmarked for the team’s top three draft picks, which remain unsigned to this point. A large sum could go to Jackson as incentive to sign up early, well before he’s eligible to hit the unrestricted free agency.

The offensive guard market is booming, with bigger deals going to a position group generally lower than other spots on the offensive line. The Raiders contributed to that inflation in 2016, signing left guard Kelechi Osemele to a five-year, $58.5 deal with $25.4 million in guarantees.

Osemele is one of eight guards with contracts worth $40 million or more, a list that includes two right guards. Jackson played left guard – the more valued position – until Osemele showed up. He moved to the right without complaint.

Jackson thrived there as well. He didn’t allow a sack in 2016, according to analytics site Pro Football Focus, with 27 quarterback pressures in 735 pass-blocking snaps. Jackson has been a strong run blocker as a pro, where he has started 44 games in three NFL seasons.

Finding proper value to entice Jackson to sign while remaining on budget is McKenzie’s next task, trying to keep a valuable offensive lineman in place for years to come.

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.”