AFC West: Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders, who hold the No. 5 overall pick, are in full draft mode with less than three weeks to go until the first round goes down on May 8. But with free agency still open for business, we’ve updated our Raiders tracker to include reported visits to the team compound by college players as well as updates with their six tendered exclusive-rights free agents:

Raiders free agents

LT Jared Veldheer -- signed a five-year, $37.5 million deal with the Arizona Cardinals on March 11.

DE Lamarr Houston -- signed a five-year, $35 million deal with the Chicago Bears on March 11.

RB Rashad Jennings -- signed a four-year, $14 million deal with the New York Giants on March 12.

CB Tracy Porter -- signed a two-year, $6 million deal with Washington on March 13.

RB Darren McFadden -- signed a one-year, $4 million deal to return to the Raiders, with $100,000 guaranteed and $2.25 million in incentives on March 15.

FS Charles Woodson -- signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract to return to Raiders on March 21.

DT Vance Walker -- signed a three-year contract with Kansas City Chiefs worth a maximum of $13.75 million, guaranteed at least $3.75 million on March 14.

DT Pat Sims -- signed a one-year, $1.45 million contract to return to Raiders on March 28.

CB Mike Jenkins -- signed a one-year contract worth up to $2 million with Tampa Bay Buccaneers on March 20.

CB Phillip Adams -- reportedly agreed to one-year contract with Seattle Seahawks on March 27.

S Usama Young -- signed a two-year, $2.5 million contract to return to Raiders on March 19.

WR Jacoby Ford -- signed a one-year, $750,000 contract with the New York Jets on April 1.

DT Daniel Muir

OT Tony Pashos

DE Jason Hunter

C/G Andre Gurode

TE Jeron Mastrud

Exclusive rights free agents

FB Jamize Olawale -- team announced he signed tender on March 25.

RB Jeremy Stewart -- team announced he signed tender on April 2.

LB Kaelin Burnett -- team announced he signed tender on April 17.

SS Brandian Ross -- reportedly he signed tender on March 8 (team hasn't announced).

CB Chimdi Chekwa -- reportedly he signed tender on March 5 (team not announced).

OT Matt McCants

Who else is gone?

RG Mike Brisiel cut by Oakland on April 1, saving the Raiders $1.38 million in salary-cap space, though he'll still carry a cap number of $3.93 million.

Who's new?

OL Rodger Saffold (St. Louis Rams) -- agreed to a five-year, $42.5 million deal ($21 million guaranteed) with the Raiders on March 11. Deal voided with Oakland's concerns over Saffold's shoulder the next day. He re-signed with the Rams immediately.

OL Austin Howard (New York Jets) -- signed a five-year, $30 million deal ($15 million guaranteed) with Raiders on March 12.

DE Justin Tuck (New York Giants) -- signed a two-year, $11 million deal with Raiders on March 13.

LB/DE LaMarr Woodley (Pittsburgh Steelers) -- signed a two-year contract worth up to $12 million with Raiders on March 13.

CB Tarell Brown (San Francisco 49ers) -- signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with Raiders on March 14.

DL Antonio Smith (Houston Texans) –- signed a two-year, $9 million deal with Raiders on March 14.

WR James Jones (Green Bay Packers) -- signed a three-year, $11.3 million deal with Raiders on March 17.

OL Kevin Boothe (New York Giants) -- signed a two-year, $2.625 million contract with Raiders on March 17.

LT Donald Penn (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) -- signed a two-year, $9.6 million deal, with $4.2 million guaranteed, with Raiders on March 19.

QB Matt Schaub (Houston Texans) -- acquired in a trade for a sixth-round selection in the 2014 NFL draft on March 21.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars) -- signed a three-year, $7.5 million deal with the Raiders on March 28.

DL C.J. Wilson (Green Bay Packers) -- signed a one-year, $795,000 contract with Raiders on March 28.

CB Carlos Rogers (San Francisco 49ers) -- signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with Raiders on March 31.

P Daniel Zychlinski (Stanford) -- camp leg signed on April 4.

Who’s visited or will be visiting ... reportedly

DT Jason Hatcher (Dallas Cowboys) -- signed a four-year, $27.5 million contract with Washington on March 13.

DE Henry Melton (Chicago Bears) -- signed a four-year, $29 million contract with Dallas Cowboys on March 19.

RB Andre Brown (New York Giants) -- signed a one-year, $645,000 contract with Houston Texans on April 7.

LB Dane Fletcher (New England Patriots) -- signed a one-year, $2 million contract with Tampa Bay Buccaneers on March 16.

LB Rob Jackson (Washington) -- re-signed with Washington to a one-year, $795,000 contract on April 4.

DB Terrell Thomas (New York Giants)

Reported college player visits to Alameda

QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)

QB Tom Savage (Pittsburgh)

QB Blake Bortles (Central Florida)

WR Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt)

CB Dexter McDougle (Maryland)

CB Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech)

WR Cody Latimer (Indiana)

* Contract figures culled from numerous reports.
In Mel Kiper’s first three mock drafts -- not counting his "Grade A" mock, in which he played the part of general manager for all 32 teams and made his best thought-out selections -- he stayed on the offensive side of the ball for the Oakland Raiders, who hold the No. 5 overall pick.

Kiper predicted the Raiders would go with Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins in each of his first two mocks, then had Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater going to Oakland in his third mock. (Kiper selected Auburn left tackle Greg Robinson for the Raiders in his Grade A mock.)

So where does Kiper see Oakland going in his Mock 4.0?


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

NFL Nation TV debuts

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
1:30
PM ET
Join us today at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT as ESPN’s NFL Nation TV debuts on Spreecast with host Paul Gutierrez (Oakland Raiders reporter), co-host Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and guest Jeff Legwold (Denver Broncos reporter). Topics will include free agency, the upcoming draft and other current events in the NFL in particular and the world of sports in general. Users are encouraged to log in and ask the panelists questions as well in the chat feature.

Here's the link for the NFL Nation TV.
The week began for the Oakland Raiders with a visit from polarizing quarterback prospect Johnny Manziel, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M.

It will end with a stopover by an intriguing draft climber in Pittsburgh QB Tom Savage, ESPN.com has learned.

[+] EnlargeTom Savage
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsTom Savage passed for 2,958 yards and 21 touchdowns last season for Pitt.
Savage, initially projected as a fourth or fifth-round draft choice but becoming a hot topic of late, will fly into Oakland Friday and visit with the Raiders. Oakland is impressed with his size -- he measured 6-feet-4, 228 pounds at the combine -- and arm strength -- many observers thought he had the strongest, if not necessarily the most accurate, arm at the combine as well.

He has transferred twice, starting out at Rutgers before going to Arizona, though he never played for the Wildcats, before finding his way to Pitt. His wayward ways have been a topic of conversation for teams interested in his services, Savage said at the combine.

"You see someone transfer twice, your immediate thought is probably a red flag, there is something wrong," he said. "Obviously, my journey has been a little different. It's helped me mature as a person and I wouldn't want to do it any other way."

In his lone season at Pitt, Savage passed for 2,958 yards with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions while completing 61 percent of his passes last year. He was knocked out of the Panthers' Little Caesers Pizza Bowl victory over Bowling Green in the first half with a rib injury after completing 8 of 13 passes for 124 yards.

"I definitely want to bring toughness," he said. "You have to be that guy who can take a couple of hits and keep your eyes down the field and still make the big-time throws you need to make. Everyone here has big arms. You have to be accurate. You have to be a poised quarterback and be able to handle the pressure."

Savage, who would no doubt be a project in the making, would seemingly fit the mold for the Raiders, who are going all in with Matt Schaub under center and Matt McGloin as the primary backup (Terrelle Pryor has likely played his last down in Oakland, general manager Reggie McKenzie has intimated). Though that was also the plan last year when Oakland acquired Matt Flynn to be the franchise quarterback, targeted Matt Barkley before the draft before taking Tyler Wilson in the fourth round.

Besides, if Twitter is a barometer, a Raiders jersey with "SAVAGE" on the back of it would be immensely popular to fans.
Holding the No. 5 overall selection in the upcoming NFL draft could be seen as a both a blessing and a curse for the Oakland Raiders. After all, to get such a prime pick, the Raiders had to have a down season the year before ... and going 4-12 qualifies as such, meaning they have many needs. Even after signing 11 free agents from other teams, plus four of their own, and acquiring quarterback Matt Schaub in a trade since free agency opened March 11.

In his fourth mock draft , which is on ESPN Insider today, Todd McShay addresses a couple of needs for the Raiders, which should satisfy fans and Oakland's front office -- if it does indeed go this way.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

video
Johnny Manziel visiting the Oakland Raiders, per ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, makes all the sense in the world. It also makes no sense whatsoever.

That's how polarizing and transcendent a figure the artist known as Johnny Football is to the NFL.

On one hand, why wouldn't the playmaker-starved Raiders, who hold the No. 5 overall pick in May's draft, do their due diligence on Manziel?

Since the Raiders' last playoff game, Super Bowl XXXVII on Jan. 26, 2003, Oakland has had 17 starting quarterbacks -- Rich Gannon, Rick Mirer, Kerry Collins, Marques Tuiasosopo, Aaron Brooks, Andrew Walter, Josh McCown, Daunte Culpepper, JaMarcus Russell, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye, Jason Campbell, Kyle Boller, Carson Palmer, Terrelle Pryor, Matt Flynn and Matt McGloin -- so there has been a serious lack of continuity under center. Matt Schaub, acquired in a trade for a sixth-round draft pick last month, will be No. 18 this season.

Per ESPN Stats & Info, the Cleveland Browns have also had 17 starters since 2003 and the Miami Dolphins have had 15, with the Raiders' 180 passing touchdowns since then an NFL low.

So the Raiders could use an infusion of excitement and longevity from the likes of Manziel, who many observers compare to Fran Tarkenton, even if his slight stature warrants concern regarding his reckless-abandon playing style.

Which brings us to the flip side of things ...

In acquiring Schaub and identifying McGloin as a backup, and -- as general manager Reggie McKenzie said at the NFL owners meetings -- with Pryor most likely having played his final game for Oakland, the Raiders seem to be building something that Manziel does not fit into.

It is obvious coach Dennis Allen prefers more of a pure, dropback-style quarterback, like Schaub and McGloin. Manziel, like Pryor, is anything but a prototypical QB.

With Manziel's immense popularity, the Raiders drafting him might set Schaub up for failure. Consider that Schaub suffered a crisis of confidence last season in Houston that grew exponentially with every interception. No doubt impatient fans would scream for Manziel the first time Schaub threw an interception, fostering an unhealthy environment.

Like it or loathe it, the Raiders picked up Schaub to be their franchise quarterback for at least the next two seasons, as Schaub restructuring his contract can make him a free agent after 2015, per reports.

Allen, a Texas A&M alum, has a unique perspective on the Heisman Trophy-winning Manziel, who has also reportedly visited the New England Patriots. Allen might know best how Manziel would deal with the prospect of sitting and not becoming a distraction.

Sure, the Raiders should kick the tires on Manziel by bringing him in for a visit because the biggest question that might be answered in a stopover is this: Does Manziel fit into what McKenzie and Allen are building?

It makes sense, unless it doesn't.
The Oakland Raiders added a camp leg on Friday with the signing of free-agent punter Daniel Zychlinski.

Sure, general manager Reggie McKenzie likes competition at every position, but last season Marquette King beat out veteran Chris Kluwe and King has a stranglehold on the gig. Still…

Zychlinski, who turns 24 on April 17, played at Stanford from 2008-12 and averaged 42.2 yards per punt, appearing in 41 games and punting 97 times. As a senior on the Farm, his 43.1 yards per punt average was the fifth best in school history.

King, meanwhile, led the NFL with a 48.9 yard average last season, his first full year punting in the NFL after replacing Shane Lechler.
Fandom is such a fickle and subjective thing. Yet our guys at FiveThirtyEight.com have put metrics on it by equating popularity with the frequency of Google searches done on professional teams.

Nate Silver and Ritchie King ran numbers on teams in all seven of the professional sports leagues in North America (the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, CFL and Liga MX) from 2004 through 2014 and, to no one's surprise, the NFL was king. Twelve of the top 17 teams most often searched were football teams ... even if the top two were the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

And despite the Raiders' recent bad run -- they have not had a winning record or been to the playoffs since 2002 -- they remain in the upper half of most popular NFL teams, checking in at No. 12.

The Dallas Cowboys are the most popular NFL team, followed by the Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets and then the Raiders.

In fact, the Raiders were the third-most searched team in the two west divisions, ahead of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.

And when you factor in cross-sport comparisions, the Raiders, at No. 17 overall, were ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers (No. 20), Boston Celtics (No. 22) and Montreal Canadiens (No. 27).

Raiders free-agency tracker

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
8:00
AM ET
There's no doubt the Oakland Raiders have been one of the busiest teams in free agency. Besides signing 11 free agents off other teams -- only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13) and New York Giants (13) have signed more through Monday, and the Chicago Bears had also signed 11 -- the Raiders also re-signed four of their own.

Plus, the Raiders acquired quarterback Matt Schaub from the Houston Texans for a sixth-round draft pick.

Oakland's two most recent moves addressed specific needs identified by coach Dennis Allen at the NFL owners meetings: They added another cornerback in Carlos Rogers and depth on the defensive line in C.J. Wilson and Pat Sims.

Are the Raiders done? Stay tuned. Here is the Raiders' updated free-agency tracker:

Raiders free agents

LT Jared Veldheer: Signed a five-year, $37.5 million deal with the Arizona Cardinals on March 11.

DE Lamarr Houston: Signed a five-year, $35 million deal with the Chicago Bears on March 11.

RB Rashad Jennings: Signed a four-year, $14 million deal with the New York Giants on March 12.

CB Tracy Porter: Signed a two-year, $6 million deal with Washington on March 13.

RB Darren McFadden: Signed a one-year, $4 million deal to return to the Raiders, with $100,000 guaranteed and $2.25 million in incentives on March 15.

FS Charles Woodson: Signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract to return to Raiders on March 21.

DT Vance Walker: Signed a three-year contract with Kansas City Chiefs worth a maximum of $13.75 million, guaranteed at least $3.75 million on March 14.

DT Pat Sims: Signed a one-year, $1.45 million contract to return to Raiders on March 28.

CB Mike Jenkins: Signed a one-year contract worth up to $2 million with Tampa Bay Buccaneers on March 20.

DT Daniel Muir

CB Phillip Adams: Reportedly agreed to one-year contract with Seattle Seahawks on March 27.

S Usama Young: Signed a two-year, $2.5 million contract to return to Raiders on March 19.

OT Tony Pashos

WR Jacoby Ford: Signed a one-year, $750,000 contract with the New York Jets on April 1.

DE Jason Hunter

C/G Andre Gurode

TE Jeron Mastrud

Who else is gone?

RG Mike Brisiel: Cut by Oakland on April 1, saving the Raiders $1.38 million in salary-cap space, though he'll still carry a cap number of $3.93 million in dead money.
Who’s new?

OL Rodger Saffold (Signed with St. Louis Rams): Agreed to a five-year, $42.5 million deal with $21 million guaranteed with Raiders on March 11. The deal voided with Oakland's concerns over the health of Saffold's shoulder the next day. He re-signed with Rams immediately.

OL Austin Howard (New York Jets): Signed a five-year, $30 million deal with $15 million in guarantees with Raiders on March 12.

DE Justin Tuck (New York Giants): Signed a two-year, $11 million deal with Raiders on March 13.

LB/DE LaMarr Woodley (Pittsburgh Steelers): Signed a two-year contract worth up to $12 million with Raiders on March 13.

CB Tarell Brown (San Francisco 49ers): Signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with Raiders on March 14.

DL Antonio Smith (Houston Texans): Signed a two-year, $9 million deal with Raiders on March 14.

WR James Jones (Green Bay Packers): Signed a three-year, $11.3 million deal with Raiders on March 17.

OL Kevin Boothe (New York Giants): Signed a two-year, $2.625 million contract with Raiders on March 17.

LT Donald Penn (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Signed a two-year, $9.6 million deal with $4.2 million guaranteed with Raiders on March 19.

QB Matt Schaub (Houston Texans): Acquired in a trade for a sixth-round selection in 2014 NFL draft on March 21.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars): Signed a three-year, $7.5 million deal with the Raiders on March 28.

DL C.J. Wilson (Green Bay Packers): Signed a one-year, $795,000 contract with Raiders on March 28.

CB Carlos Rogers (San Francisco 49ers): Signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with Raiders on March 31.

Who's visited or will be visiting reportedly?

DT Jason Hatcher (Dallas Cowboys): Signed a four-year, $27.5 million contract with Washington on March 13.

DE Henry Melton (Chicago Bears): Signed a four-year, $29 million with Dallas Cowboys on March 19.

DB Terrell Thomas (New York Giants)

RB Andre Brown (New York Giants)

LB Dane Fletcher (New England Patriots): Signed a one-year, $2 million contract with Tampa Bay Buccaneers on March 16.

LB Rob Jackson (Washington)

-- Contract figures culled from numerous reports.
The Oakland Raiders hold the No. 5 overall pick in the draft after going 4-12 last season. And as Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said, his team has needs -- with an "s" -- and he wants a playmaker.

In his latest Grade A mock draft, Mel Kiper put on his GM hat for us and went through the draft selecting players for every team as if he were the one making the picks, rather than predicting the selections. His choice for the Raiders will raise more than a few eyebrows.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

If Sammy Watkins is a target of the Oakland Raiders, who hold the No. 5 pick in May's NFL draft, that might be news to the former Clemson receiver.

Watkins, the top wideout in the draft who could go as high as No. 2 overall, told ESPN affiliate 95.7 The Game on Tuesday that he did not recall meeting with the Raiders at last month's combine in Indianapolis.

Watkins
That's not to say, though, that Watkins is feeling shunned. As he put it, he has love for all 32 teams.

“I have some freakish talents and ability to make plays,” he said. “I can jump, run catch, make somebody miss. That's my game.”

It's a game and playmaking skill set badly needed by the rebuilding Raiders, who added veteran possession pass-catcher James Jones in free agency and return Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, Denarius Moore, Brice Butler and Juron Criner.

Watkins, though, plays bigger and faster than his listed 6-foot-1, 211 pounds, and many see him as Denarius Moore 2.0.

“I'm able to transition myself and work through tough conditions,” Watkins said. “I understand football and the preparation, so for me, it's getting in with the team I'm with and learn that playbook. That's all I need to do is really learn that playbook, and after that, just adjusting to the speed of the game and how cornerbacks play in the NFL.

“That would be the next step. I think after the first few games I'll be definitely fine.”

Watkins said he patterned his game after many different NFL receivers, listing Julio Jones, Torrey Smith, DeAndre Hopkins, Alshon Jeffery and Larry Fitzgerald. He was also asked where his skill set would best be put to use on an NFL field.

“If you want to make a lot of plays and help your team, I think ‘Z' would definitely be the position, because if they flip the coverage to your side, you definitely got one-on-one back side,” he said of what is commonly known as the flanker. “I think for me to spread the field and getting down the field and have space, the ‘Z' would be a nice position for me.”

And his favorite route to run?

“I would probably say a dig, probably a speed dig or a regular dig,” Watkins said. “You can't really stop those.”
video
The Oakland Raiders secondary should have a certain San Francisco 49ers feel to it this season as the Raiders signed their second cornerback from across the bay on Monday.

Carlos Rogers will join Tarell Brown, who signed on March 14. As it stands now, Rogers should be a starting corner opposite Brown and move inside in nickel packages, with last year's top draft pick, D.J. Hayden, coming in for Rogers.

"I don't want to say you can plug anybody outside, but being an outside corner is easier to learn," Rogers said in a conference call. "Nickel, you're dealing with the linebackers, you're dealing with the D-line, you're dealing with your corners and your safeties, so it's going to be a big part of what I need to do. I need to learn all the terminology and get the nickel spot down.

"I'm going to have a big opportunity to compete on the outside for a starting spot as a corner. For me, personally, my biggest role is going to be making sure I've got all the nickel stuff down."

[+] EnlargeRogers
Bob Stanton/USA TODAY SportsCarlos Rogers will join Tarell Brown in Oakland's secondary.
Rogers, who turns 33 on July 2, was originally a first-round draft pick, No. 9 overall, of Washington in 2005 and came to San Francisco in 2011. In three seasons with the 49ers, he had nine interceptions and was a Pro Bowler.

He said he is excited to be reunited with Brown after being cut by the 49ers.

"It's going to be fun," he said. "We're two older guys that can bring experience, can bring leadership, can bring a lot of stuff to the table. I've played in a lot of different defenses and it's not hard to come over here and learn this defense and this terminology. We were a big part of the puzzle that turned San Francisco's defense around, so hopefully we can translate that over here and be even better.

"My focus is I want to continue to win and I want to continue to be a big part of helping to turn this organization around, like I did in San Francisco and continue to win and try to get to that Super Bowl and win it. I don't have any hatred for San Francisco. I had three great years of my career there."

Rogers is the 11th different free agent to sign with the Raiders since the new league year began on March 11. Oakland has also re-signed four of its own free agents and acquired quarterback Matt Schaub in a trade for a sixth-round draft pick.

Entering Monday, the Raiders had little more than $13 million in salary cap space, according to ESPN Stats & Information data.

"The Raiders have been one of the teams that have been more active in the offseason, trying to turn things around," Rogers said. "I see where this team is going and it wasn't hard to come here and finalize the deal. Especially playing with Tarell. And I have been good friends with Charles Woodson since I've been in college. It was easier to come here and play with them. Plus, I just have to move myself from one place to another, right across the bay."
While the Oakland Raiders having interest in free agent receiver DeSean Jackson is no surprise, a pair of veteran players speaking out in support of Jackson have helped allay team fears about the polarizing playmaker’s potential negative effect in the team’s locker room, a league source said Sunday night.

Still, the Raiders are doing research on Jackson while playing a wait-and-see game as no visit has been scheduled yet. Jackson is, however, scheduled to visit the Washington Redskins on Tuesday.

Free safety Charles Woodson, who is entering his 17th season, on Friday told ESPN radio affiliate 95.7 The Game that he hoped general manager Reggie McKenzie brought Jackson to Oakland, after necessary background checks.

“But when you talk about bringing in a guy as talented as he is, and you have that opportunity, I think you take a shot at it,” Woodson said. “And I think where we are as a team, we need all the playmakers we can have, and adding that guy would definitely help take us to the next level.”

Jackson, who played at nearby Cal, is coming off a career-best season in which he caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. He would be the deep threat the Raiders want and need. Plus, the Raiders still have ample salary cap space.

But with Jackson being reportedly linked to gang activity in his native Los Angeles and, in the wake of the Aaron Hernandez situation in New England, the NFL in general and teams in particular are especially sensitive to players’ off-the-field relationships.

Raiders fullback Marcel Reece joined Woodson in pushing Jackson, the two-time Pro Bowler took to Twitter to defend Jackson.



The 5-feet-10, 178-pound Jackson, who is only 27, has been the subject of a social media push by Raiders fans using the hashtag #DJaxToOakland.

Raiders special teams coach Bobby April also has a history with Jackson, having coached in Philadelphia when Jackson was weaned off being the Eagles’ punt returner.

Raiders add DL C.J. Wilson

March, 28, 2014
Mar 28
6:20
PM ET
The Oakland Raiders have addressed the need for depth on the defensive line by signing free agent C.J. Wilson, the team announced Friday afternoon.

The 6-foot-3, 306-pound Wilson, who turns 27 on Sunday, was a seventh-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2010 out of East Carolina. In four seasons, he has played in 50 games, starting 11, and has 3 sacks.

"It feels great to be a Raider," Wilson said in a team-issued release. "I’m excited to help the team win and ready to come make some noise."

He was limited to eight games last season -- he missed three games with an ankle injury but was a healthy scratch the other times -- after having a breakthrough 2012, in which he appeared in 11 games, seven starts, and had 37 tackles (18 solo), with 2 sacks and a pass defensed.

Wilson also stepped up as a rookie during the Packers' four-game playoff run to the Super Bowl XLV title.

With the Raiders, Wilson is expected to be versatile enough to play both end and inside, though primarily as a run-stuffer on first and second downs.
video
The biggest question regarding the Oakland Raiders signing free-agent running back Maurice Jones-Drew to a three-year contract on Friday is this: How exactly do they plan to use him in their retooled offense? As the bellcow? In tandem? As insurance?

Jones-Drew said he was told by the Raiders he was coming in to compete.

"We have different running abilities," he said in a conference call Friday. "But the competition is what's going to make us better. We'll push each other."

He joins a crowded if somewhat unsettled backfield.

Since being the No. 4 overall draft pick in 2008, Darren McFadden has been the Raiders' starter ... when healthy. And Oakland re-signed him to an incentive-laden deal to do just that in 2014, even though he has missed 19 of the Raiders' previous 41 games and has never played more than 13 games in a season.

The Raiders are also high on Latavius Murray, who missed all of last season with an ankle injury after being drafted in the sixth round. Plus, they signed Canadian Football League Grey Cup MVP Kory Sheets, and the Raiders still have Jeremy Stewart on the roster.

Or, as Murray tweeted:

Jones-Drew, a diminutive three-time Pro Bowler who has a lot of mileage on his powerful legs, has had health issues himself of late. It just so happens that in the past two seasons, those injuries occurred in Oakland.

In 2012, after holding out in the preseason, the 5-foot-8, 205-pound Jones-Drew broke his left foot on the Jaguars' second play from scrimmage against the Raiders in Week 7 and did not play another down all season. He underwent what he termed "major" surgery that offseason.

Last season, Jones-Drew sprained his left ankle on a touchdown-saving flying tackle by Charles Woodson in the first quarter of the Week 2 game.

"It was a hell of a tackle," Jones-Drew said, "there's nothing I can say."

Jones-Drew, 29, missed the rest of that game but played the rest of the season, rushing for 803 yards while averaging a career-low 3.4 yards per carry. His previous low was his 4.2 in 2008.

"I feel like I have a ton left in the tank," he said, and maybe splitting time with McFadden would keep both off the injury report. Or perhaps it limits their efficiency and productivity in smaller-than-usual roles.

Whatever the case may be, Jones-Drew grew up in the East Bay a fan of the Raiders, prepped at high school powerhouse De La Salle and has lived in the Bay Area every offseason since Jacksonville selected him in the second round of the 2006 draft out of UCLA. Playing home games in front of his grandmother now, he said, would be a bonus.

Jones-Drew said the other teams that reached out to him wanted him to join them in a mentor role, or as a backup.

"But the Raiders," he said, "gave me an opportunity to compete.

"It just feels like home."

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD