Oakland let TE Jared Cook walk in free agency after he led the 2018 team in targets, receptions (tied), receiving yards and receiving TDs. It sounds like the primary replacement plan is former Raven Darren Waller. "It's your position, you are the 'Y' in certain personnel groupings," OC Greg Olson said Thursday, via NBC Sports Bay Area. "We're going to put you out there on the field, and you're going to play. We're really pushing him to the limit right now." Waller just joined the Raiders in November off Baltimore's practice squad. He made it into 4 games and caught 6 balls. Waller transitioned from WR to TE with the Ravens, and it looks like Oakland wants him to play ahead of Luke Willson, rookie Foster Moreau and others this season. Waller isn't likely to find anything near Cook's target share available in an offense that has since added Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Ryan Grant and a 1st-round RB. But he has a shot at fantasy relevance.
The Raiders have signed former Colts TE Erik Swoope. A converted basketball player, Swoope has caught just 23 balls over 5 NFL seasons -- but he's averaged 16.7 yards per catch and scored 4 times. There's theoretical upside here, but time is running out for Swoope to reach it. He at least lands in a wide-open TE group alongside Darren Waller, rookie Foster Moreau and Luke Willson. This will be a position battle to monitor this summer.
The Raiders have re-signed RB Doug Martin. The move is clearly a direct reaction to Isaiah Crowell's Achilles tear. Martin averaged a respectable 4.2 yards per carry on 172 totes for Oakland last year but ranked just 30th out of 47 RBs with 100+ carries in Pro Football Focus' Elusive Rating. Martin is veteran insurance in case rookie Josh Jacobs stumbles.
Raiders RB Isaiah Crowell tore his Achilles in a workout on Tuesday and will miss the entire 2019 campaign, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. Crowell will hit free agency next offseason at 27 years old. First-round rookie RB Josh Jacobs was already the favorite to lead Oakland in touches this season. Crowell's absence only makes him a safer bet. Undersized pass-catchers Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, plus 2018 undrafted free agent Chris Warren, sit behind Jacobs on the depth chart.
The Raiders grabbed Clemson WR Hunter Renfrow in the 5th round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Renfrow was a big part of Clemson's success over the past 4 seasons, racking up 186 catches. He averaged just 11.5 yards per reception, though, with 15 total TDs. The 5'11, 180-pounder registered a 10th percentile SPARQ score at the Combine. He projects as a sure-handed but low-upside slot receiver as a pro.
The Raiders selected LSU TE Foster Moreau in the 4th round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Moreau served as the Tigers’ top TE the past 2 seasons, compiling 46 catches, 550 yards and 5 TDs in a run-heavy offense. The 6’4, 252-pounder earned an 85th percentile SPARQ score at the Combine, with a 4.66-second 40 time and 36.5-inch vertical. That athleticism suggests some fantasy upside. And he lands on a wide-open Oakland TE depth chart alongside Darren Waller and Luke Willson.
The Raiders spent their 3rd pick of the NFL Draft's 1st round on S Johnathan Abram. The DB tallied 99 tackles (53 solo), 9 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 2 INTs in his final season at Mississippi State. Abram brings a versatile skill set to an Oakland secondary in need of help. Abram's ability plus the opportunity gives him a nice fantasy outlook -- both immediately and long term.
The Raiders nabbed Alabama RB Josh Jacobs with the 24th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. Jacobs never led his college backfield in carries or touches, finishing his ‘Bama career with just 251 carries and 48 catches across 3 seasons. But he was plenty impressive when he got the rock, averaging 5.9 yards per carry and 11.9 yards per catch. The 5’10, 220-pounder is a smooth mover with plenty of power. And he’s super smooth in the passing game. Jacobs ranked 13th in this RB class in yards per route run last year, per Pro Football Focus. On the ground, he finished 7th in Elusive Rating, which measures a RB’s productivity beyond the blocking he receives. Jacobs has the look of a 3-down back as a pro — and he has a good shot to capture that role right out of the gate in an Oakland backfield sporting Isaiah Crowell and Jalen Richard.
The Raiders delivered the 1st surprise of the 2019 NFL Draft by taking Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell with the 4th overall pick. Ferrell enjoyed a highly productive college career, racking up 12.5, 18.0 and 20.0 tackles for loss over the past 3 years. That included 6.0, 9.5 and 11.5 sacks. Ferrell skipped the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine and then didn't work out at Clemson's pro day because of a toe injury. His 7.26-second 3-cone drill at the combine was just 42nd percentile for his position. A weak Oakland defense presents opportunity for Ferrell to start right away.
The Raiders announced Wednesday that they have re-signed RB Jalen Richard. It's not surprising, given that Richard was a restricted free agent. At the moment, he stands a good chance at staying heavily involved in the Oakland backfield. Richard's primary competition looks like Isaiah Crowell and 2018 rookie Chris Warren, neither of whom should threaten Richard's receiving role. We'll see what else the Raiders do at the position in the draft and whether Marshawn Lynch decides to return.
The Raiders have signed WR Ryan Grant, according to ESPN's Field Yates. Grant had a big opportunity with the Colts last year but mustered just a 35-334-1 line on 52 targets. He's yet to top 45 catches or 573 yards through 5 NFL seasons and is averaging just 11.1 yards per catch. Grant joins Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams and J.J. Nelson in Oakland's new-look WR corps.
The Raiders have signed TE Luke Willson. The 29-year-old has yet to top 22 catches across 6 NFL seasons. Jared Cook's departure has Willson and former WR Darren Waller sitting atop Oakland's TE depth chart right now. The Raiders could still add to the position in free agency or the draft. But the passing game figures to revolve around WRs Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams.
The Raiders have signed RB Isaiah Crowell to a 1-year contract. Crowell averaged 4.8 yards per carry in a wildly inconsistent 2018 with the Jets. He delivered 219 yards in a win over the Dolphins and racked up 102 and 2 TDs on just 10 carries in the surprise opening blowout win at Detroit. But Crowell cracked 50 yards just 1 other time and tallied only 143 rushing attempts (plus 21 catches) for the season. His arrival in Oakland likely means unrestricted free agent Doug Martin is done there. Marshawn Lynch isn't expected to decide until after the NFL Draft whether he'll return for another season. RBs Jalen Richard and Chris Warren remain on the roster. HC Jon Gruden has compared Richard to former RB Charlie Garner, which indicates he'll maintain a significant role. Warren spent his rookie season on IR after a flashy preseason. This backfield figures to see further changes before we can project its 2019 touch splits.
WR J.J. Nelson has inked a deal with the Raiders. The 5'10, 160-pounder totaled just 81 catches in 4 seasons in Arizona but averaged 17.8 yards per catch with 10 TDs. He'll battle Seth Roberts for #3 WR duties in Oakland behind Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams.
The Jets have released RB Isaiah Crowell. It was a no-brainer move after they landed RB Le'Veon Bell. Crowell averaged 4.8 yards per carry in his lone season in New York. That was fueled by runs of 54, 62 and 77 yards -- but Crowell also didn't get much help from an offensive line that finished dead last in Football Outsiders' Adjusted Line Yards. He ranked 16th in Pro Football Focus' Elusive Rating among 47 RBs who carried 100+ times last year. We'll see where he lands, but Crowell has a shot to be a fantasy factor in 2019.
The Raiders have agreed to a deal with former Chargers WR Tyrell Williams, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Williams' playing time dipped by a few percentage points each of the past 2 years. And he went from 119 targets with Keenan Allen out in 2016 to just 69 and 65 the past 2 years. Oakland gives him the chance to settle in as the 2nd target behind WR Antonio Brown, though Williams will need to fend off WR Jordy Nelson for that role. TE Jared Cook led the 2018 Raiders in targets but will hit unrestricted free agency this afternoon. Williams adds upside to Raiders QB Derek Carr, giving Carr a pass-catcher with the ability to win deep and create yards after the catch.
Update: Schefter reports it's a 4-year, $44 million deal with $22 million guaranteed and a max value of $47 million. That certainly points to Williams serving as the team's #2 target.
The Raiders have reached a 4-year deal with S Lamarcus Joyner, per multiple reports. He should take over the free safety spot for Oakland, which spent 2018 rotating players there. The Rams already added Eric Weddle for Joyner's old post.
The Raiders and OT Trent Brown have agreed to a 4-year, $66 million contract. The deal will make Brown the league's highest-paid OT. San Francisco's 1st-round pick back in 2015, Brown was mediocre over his first 2 seasons but has received positive grades from Pro Football Focus in each of the last 2 (1 with the 'Niners, 1 with the Patriots). He ranked 44th among 80 OTs in PFF's 2018 pass-blocking grades and 30th in run blocking. Between Trent Brown and Antonio Brown, QB Derek Carr's supporting cast has gotten a big boost over the past couple of days.
The Steelers traded WR Antonio Brown to the Raiders in exchange for 3rd- and 5th-round picks. Oakland also gave Brown a new 3-year, $50.1 million deal that makes him the league's highest-paid WR. The move ends Brown's 9-year tenure in Pittsburgh that saw him top 1,100 yards 7 times. The future Hall-of-Famer turns 31 in July and remained a stat-piling machine last season, leading the league with 15 receiving scores and finishing top 10 in catches (104) and yards (1,297). But it's worth noting that he posted his lowest yards-per-target average (7.72) since 2012. And Pro Football Focus graded him 26th among 117 WRs. Even if he's past his peak, though, Brown is still 1 of the game's best. We'll see how he gels with HC Jon Gruden and QB Derek Carr, but he'll obviously be fed a boatload of targets in Oakland. Brown figures to land safely inside our top 10 WRs when the rankings come out this spring. In Pittsburgh, meanwhile, JuJu Smith-Schuster takes over as the #1 WR and James Washington gets a big opportunity to step in as the #2.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen hears that there's a "high probability" the Steelers trade WR Antonio Brown this offseason. The mercurial receiver may have punched his ticket out of town when he reportedly got into a tiff with QB Ben Roethlisberger on the Wednesday before the season finale and then skipped the next 2 days of practice. Brown showed up ready to play against the Bengals on Sunday, but the Steelers made him inactive. It's possible that cooler heads prevail and Brown returns to Pittsburgh for the 2019 campaign, but this will obviously be 1 of the biggest storylines of the offseason. He's due a $2.5 million roster bonus on March 17, so any trade would likely come before then. Brown's departure would make JuJu Smith-Schuster the Steelers' clear #1 WR and give James Washington a shot to capture the #2 job.
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