Opinions? Yeah, the first quarterback in franchise history and the only coach to win two Super Bowls for the Raiders has some.But as a team radio broadcaster and long-time confidante of the late Al Davis, Tom Flores has mostly kept his thoughts to himself. But in a wide-ranging interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio's "The End Zone" show this weekend, Flores did broach several topics.He said, "Time will tell whether that was a good trade or not," in regards to the deal brokered by Hue Jackson and OK'd by Mark Davis that landed the Raiders Carson Palmer in exchange for a first-round draft pick as well as a conditional second-rounder.Flores was also asked how his Raiders teams were able to overcome penalties to win games while the more recent vintage teams could not, especially last year's team that set league records with 163 penalties for 1,358 yards."We were always good enough to win," Flores said. "We had good enough players to win, overcome the penalties, overcome the turnovers, but they're not good enough to do that right now and they've got to have a little bit more discipline and I think, in my opinion, they've got to have better linebacker play."Which, of course, led to some pointed criticism of middle linebacker Rolando McClain."I think he was a disappointment last year," Flores said of McClain. "One play he'll look like an All-Pro and then the other play he'll look just like an average guy. And then the fiasco when he went home for an occasion, that didn't go over too well. But he's got to prove himself still, in my opinion. He hasn't lived up to expectations so I think there's still some speculation there."In this corner, Flores deserves to be in the Hall of Fame for the trails he blazed in the NFL as a player, coach and general manager. Following then, some Canton-worthy thoughts of Flores on several other Raiders-related topicsOn the upcoming division race: "I think it's exciting, I think it's a good time to be in the AFC West because I think the whole thing is up for grabs. I don't think there's any team that you're going to say right now is going to dominate the division."On Oakland's chances in the AFC West: "The Raiders have a very young team. Very fast but very young, and they need to grow uplast year, there were about two or three games they dominated for three quarters and then lose it in the fourth and that kept them out of the playoffs."On a certain high-priced defensive back the Raiders cut this offseason: "They got rid of Stanford Routt. Whether that's a good thing or not? He made plays, and then he made plays for the other team with all the pass interference calls that he had. He led the league in pass interference."On the recent reunionlife celebration held in Las Vegas for Al Davis that was attended by 300 people: "A great final standoff to somebody that I was with for many, many yearssome warm and fuzzy (stories), some not so warm and fuzzy. But you know the old saying Whatever happens in Vegas stays there? Some of the stories we better leave them there."On the Raiders' biggest weakness on defense: "I think most of it came from the linebacker position. I think the defensive line is pretty solid(Aaron) Curry, I think, came on well last year. That was a good acquisition when they got him from Seattle. He's the only one right now I'm feeling pretty good about. The rest of them all have to rise, or somebody has to rise to the occasion on the other two positions. And then a lot of it depends on what they're going to try to play. Their outside linebackers last year, most of them with the exception of Curry, were pass rushers, instead of linebackers."On the ongoing regime change in Oakland with new general manager Reggie McKenzie, who played linebacker for Flores: "I like it right now, I sure do. He's had to come in and change (things). The team was not caught in time, but as long as Al Davis was alive and running the show it could be run the way it was run. But now with him gone, they've got to go to the next level or the next generation, the next era, I should say, and Reggie will bring some experience that he gained under Ron Wolff in Green Bay and on his own in Green Bay, pretty good solid organization. So it's going to be a different style."
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.
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.”