Willie Smith a fresh prince of a tackle?


Willie Smith a fresh prince of a tackle?

ALAMEDA -- There was one glaring weakness on the Raiders' initial 53-man roster when it was revealed Friday night.

REWIND: Raiders cut down roster to 53, make surprising cut
Despite having nine offensive linemen, Oakland seemed awfully thin at tackle. Until Monday, when the Raiders signed Willie Smith, late of Washington, to add depth on the outside."Everything happened so fast," Smith said. "Just getting over here, flew seven hours to go across, and 3,000 miles away from the East Coast. Im definitely liking my opportunity here. Got a good group of guys here and Im excited about what the Raiders are going to do this year."Jared Veldheer is firmly planted in at left tackle, and veteran Khalif Barnes has a hold at right tackle. Among the other O-linemen on the roster, Cooper Carlisle, Mike Brisiel and Tony Bergstrom and Lucas Nix are guards, Stefen Wisniewski and Alex Parsons are centers and Joseph Barksdale is a tackle.So what about Smith appealed to the Raiders?"Athletic, long arms," said coach Dennis Allen. "Comes from the same type of system so the learning curve shouldnt be that difficult. I think hes really an athletic talent at the tackle position."In Washington last year, Smith appeared in four games and started the final three against the sack-happy likes of Jason Pierre-Paul, Jared Allen and Trent Cole. Smith appeared in all four of Washington's games this preseason."I was definitely shocked that they let me go," Smith said. "It was a huge shock to me. But I was like, 'Hey, I know somebody else is going to pick me up because I know I was a great player.' I did some good things last year, and I improved this year. Im just ready to go out there and keep getting better and let these guys know they got a good player in me.

"Every day you go in practice (at Washington) against Pro Bowl caliber guys. I was going against (Brian) Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, and then you get in the game situations and you get to actually go against Jason Pierre-Paul and Jared Allen, it lets you know that, Hey, I can do this. Im good enough to go out there and play. So it was good for my confidence and allowed me to realize that I could go out there."Smith began his collegiate career at East Carolina as a defensive lineman before making the switch."Yeah, you know they get you with that trick," he said. "Come over and play tight end and catch some balls. And then before you know it, youre playing tackle. They got me like that.'He never got into a game as a tight end but it's his versatility on the line that attracted the Raiders to Smith."Yeah, definitely, I feel like my athleticism, my quickness and my feet, being able to get off the ball fast, helps me a lot at tackle versus some of these other guys," Smith said. "Normally when you think of an offensive lineman, you think of a big, fat slow guy. You get an athletic guy like me, it allows you to go out there and run the ball."

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.”