Latavius Murray to test Free Agency

When the Vegas Raiders take to the field, they may do so without the services of Latavius Murray, aka ‘Tay Train’, and probowler running back.

Even though Murray declared his love for the Raiders and said he’d like to finish his career with the silver and blacks only a couple of months ago, it seems he is going to see his market worth to the rest of the NFL.

Various sources report that Tay Train may then resign to the Raiders once he’s tested the waters.  So if this is a way to increase his paycheck or a serious attempt to move, we’ll have to wait and see.

Latavius Murray Stats

Year 2016 2015 2014
Rushes 195 266 82
Regular Season Yards 788yds 1066yds 424yds
Average yardage 4.0yds 4.0yds 5.2yds
Season long 42yds 54yds 90yds
Touchdowns 12 6 2
Number of receptions 33 41 17
Reception yards 264yds 232yds 143yds

Future contract negotiations on the mind

The 2016/2017 season was brilliant for the Raiders in multiple ways, and it’s key that supporters and fans alike don’t forget that. The emergence of three world class players means this Raiders roster finally has talent in crucial places for years to come. The problem with that? Contract negotiations.

On offense, Derek Carr firmly stepped into the spotlight as one of the best quarterbacks in the league in only his second professional season. Before a late season leg break spelt heartbreak for the Raiders, Carr was on pace to be in the MVP conversation along with eventual winner Matt Ryan and superbowl champion Tom Brady. He improved his quarterback rating by five points and halved the number of interceptions from his rookie year. This all amounts to one thing- he should get paid like one of the premier quarterbacks in this league. The Raiders have waited so long for a quarterback of this calibre and they simply cannot let him walk away to another team, so re-signing Carr will be step number one this offseason or next.

Still on offense, you can’t forget about Amari Cooper. The AC-DC connection has been potent since day one, and you can see how good their chemistry is on the field. As with Carr, the Raiders have waited so long for a top tier wide receiver that they will almost certainly re-sign both of these two at the same time. Cooper may not be paid in the same tier as Julio Jones, AJ Green or Antonio Brown, but for sure he will be up around that top-tier. These two together will take up a large portion of cap space that may see some other cap causalities in people like Latavius Murray, Michael Crabtree or Mychal Rivera.

The Raiders defense starts and ends with Khalil Mack. There is nothing the newly crowned NFL Defensive player of the year cant do on that side of the ball as a one man wrecking ball. To what level Mack gets paid will be interesting though. Mack has a doppelganger in Von Miller, who in turn just got the biggest non-QB contract ever. Now its important to note that Miller has accomplished much more than Mack at this stage of his career, but that’s not to say Mack wont eventually get there. There are very few players that can do what these two do, and there is no doubt that Millers contract will come up when the negotiations begin.

The situation with Mack differs slightly over Carr and Cooper as he enters the final guaranteed year of his rookie deal, so if he is to stay long term they would want to get a contract worked out this offseason. There is an option in the contract for an extra year, which would be a no-brainer should the two parties not be able to work something out this offseason.

The Raiders come into this offseason projected to have the 11th highest cap room in the league. Normally that would mean a big free agency, but in this case it’s more crucial to solidify the team for years to come and take some talent to Vegas.

Double Boost for the Defence

The Raiders welcomed a double boost to their defence on Superbowl day.

First of all, sack-machine Kahlil Mack was voted Defensive Player Of The Year by the Associated Press at the Sixth Annual NFL Honours.  Mack becomes only the second Raider in history to receive the award after corner Lester Hayes way back in 1980.  This also comes off the back of being proclaimed the defensive player of the year by the Pro football Writers earlier in the month.

Khalil Mack finished the 2016 season with 11 sacks, five forced fumbles and 56 solo tackles. Of the fumbles, Mack recovered three of them and managed to take his sole interception all the way to the house.

Then, later in the day, the Raider’s D learned that pass rusher Aldon Smith is expected to be re-instated in March.  Smith is a former first-round pick who had 33.5 sacks in his first two seasons (in a less than competitive team) before succumbing to off-the-field issues.

Aldon Smith and Khalil Mack crashing the edges on a custom blitz anyone?

Goldman Sachs pull out whilst San Diego Show Interest

The potential move of the Raiders to Las Vegas is a major story in the news this week although sadly nearly all of it is negative. Following Monday’s announcement that Sheldon Adelson would no longer be contributing to the stadium costs, Goldman Sachs have withdrawn their financial support as well. Goldman Sachs has a long-standing business relationship with Adelson and it seems they are unwilling to tarnish this relationship by helping Mark Davis.

This is a significant blow to the Vegas Raiders and one that leaves the entire more in jeopardy. The team would now need to find a new investment bank or take on another partner to replace Adelson. This is the more likely of the two, but with gambling-based restrictions on team owners/partners and the nature of Las Vegas, this could be difficult. As of yet, nobody specific has been named as a possible replacement.

Since this news has broken, the mayor of San Diego reached out to NFL officials saying it would be willing to adopt the Raiders should their move to Las Vegas fall through. San Diego lost the Chargers in January of this year after they declared they would be following the Rams and moving to Los Angeles.

The involvement of San Diego brings into question the real reason why Mark Davis wants to move. If he really wants to just take his team out of Oakland then it is likely he will consider San Diego, purely because they already have a stadium ready and would be significantly cheaper than building a new one. On the other hand, if it is about entering a new market and getting an improved stadium, then Davis should ignore any reach from San Diego. The Chargers moved because San Diego was not a big market for an NFL team, which in turn was showed by no interest from the area to fund refurbishing the stadium.

News is breaking thick and fast about this potential move before the league meeting in January. But one thing is for certain- San Diego Raiders? No thanks.