The Oakland Raiders Sign Former Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Christian Ponder

March 13, 4:21 PM PT

Shawn Jonas

Alameda, California – The Oakland Raiders have signed unrestricted free agent Quarterback Christian Ponder, the club announced Friday.

Ponder was originally drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round (12th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft and spent the last four seasons with the Vikings. Ponder was tutored by Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave in Minnesota from 2011-13, when Musgrave served in the same capacity for the Vikings. For his career, Ponder has played in 38 games with 36 starts, throwing for 6,658 yards on 632-of-1,057 passing (59.8 percent), 38 touchdowns, 36 interceptions and a 75.9 passer rating.

The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder had his best season in 2012 under Musgrave, as he started all 16 games and led Minnesota to a playoff berth. After finishing 3-13 in 2011, Ponder led the Vikings to a 10-6 record in 2012, the biggest single-season turnaround in franchise history. In 2012, Ponder completed 62.1 percent of his passes, completing 300-of-483 passes for 2,935 yards and 18 touchdowns for a passer rating of 81.2.

The Colleyville, Texas, native played in 35 games at Florida State, throwing for 6,872 yards on 596-of-965 (61.8 percent) passing, 49 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. He left FSU ranked among the all-time school leaders in career completions, completion percentage, passing yards and passing touchdowns. As a senior, Ponder was a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. He was also named Florida State’s offensive MVP as a sophomore in 2008.

Christian Ponder’s contract details were undisclosed.

 

The Oakland Raiders Sign Former Carolina Panthers Cornerback James Dockery

March 2013, 2015 3:06 PM PT

Shawn Jonas

ALAMEDA, California – The Oakland Raiders have signed unrestricted free agent CB James Dockery, the club announced Friday.

Dockery joins the Raiders following stints with the Cleveland Browns (2011) and Carolina Panthers (2012-14). His career totals include 31 games played with two starts, 30 tackles (25 solo) and two passes defensed.

Last season with the Panthers, the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder played in seven games and posted 10 tackles (nine solo) after re-signing with the team in October.

The Palm Desert, Califonia, native was originally signed by the Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2011. Dockery played in 38 games with 25 starts over four seasons at Oregon State, totaling 106 tackles, six interceptions and 13 passes defensed.

Dockery’s Contract details was undisclosed.

More On James Dockery

Dockery grew up in Palm Desert, California, in a family that bled Silver and Black. His uncle, who passed away in 2002 was such a devout member of Raider Nation that he was buried in a Silver and Black casket and a Raiders blanket now rests on his grave.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Dockery after signing his contract. “It’s very personal for me. It’s not just about football. This is about my family and my community, and just an opportunity for a California kid to come back home. This means a lot.”

After playing four seasons at Oregon State, Dockery went undrafted but was signed by the Cleveland Browns in 2011, playing in 12 games before signing with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012.
He then spent the next three seasons as a Panther, appearing in seven games and posting 10 tackles (nine solo) in 2014.
Dockery’s arrival in Silver and Black also allows him to fulfill another dream, a dream of playing with his favorite player growing up, Charles Woodson.

“Woodson is just a guy that in my opinion is the best defensive back,” he said. “He’s very versatile, safety, nickel, corner, and that’s somebody that I’ve tried to model my game after. I told him in the weight room today, don’t push me away because I’m going to be trying to soak up a lot of knowledge while I’m here.”

Dockery is looking forward to a fresh start in Oakland, and is excited about getting on the field and putting the pads back on.

“From a football aspect, [the fans] can expect to see someone that’s going to go out there and compete,” he said. “I’ve never been the biggest, strongest or the fastest guy, but I’ve always been one of the most competitive people that you’ll ever come across, and I intend to bring that here.”

He is also eager to begin working with defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., and believes that he and the Raiders are a natural fit.

“I think they’re looking for guys that are high quality, high character, smart football players and I think that’s where I fit,” Dockery said. “I was blessed to be a part of a great defense in Carolina and I’m just looking forward to taking what I did over there and trying to bring that here and get this defense in the Top 10.”

The Oakland Raiders Sign Former Philadelphia Eagles Safety Nate Allen

March 12, 2015 10:25 AM PT

Shawn Jonas

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have signed unrestricted free agent S Nate Allen, the club announced Thursday.

Allen joins Oakland following five seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. He played in 74 games with 69 starts for the Eagles, earning the starting safety spot as a rookie in 2010, posting 380 tackles (257 solo), 10 interceptions, 28 passes defensed, four sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He also tallied eight special teams stops.

Last season, the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder started 15 games for Philadelphia, recording a team- and career-high four interceptions and tied for the team lead with three fumble recoveries. Allen set a career high with 94 tackles (56 solo) in 2013 and started all 16 games.

The Cape Coral, Florida, native was originally selected by the Eagles in the second round (37th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft out of South Florida. He played in 48 games for the Bulls from 2006-09, totaling 224 tackles and nine interceptions. He earned All-Big East honors during his senior season after four interceptions.

Nate Allen signed a 4 year / $23,000,000 contract with the Oakland Raiders, including a $4,000,000 signing bonus, $11,800,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $5,750,000

More On Nate Allen ( Courtesy of The Oakland Raiders Website)

The veteran safety signed a contract with the Oakland Raiders Thursday after spending the past five seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. During his tenure with the Eagles, Allen played in 74 games with 69 starts, posting 380 tackles (257 solo), 10 interceptions, 28 passes defensed, four sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

“I just fell in love with everything and the direction that the organization is going and the coaching staff they brought in, and the group of guys that we have here,” said Allen after signing his deal. “It’s a great thing and like I’ve been saying, we’re planning on winning now. We’re not trying to rebuild and try to do this or do that, we’re trying to make something happen now, this year.”

After growing up in Cape Coral, Fla., Allen earned a scholarship to play at the University of South Florida, where he played in nine of USF’s 13 games as a freshman.

Allen then became the model of consistency for the Bulls, starting each game for the next three seasons before declaring for the NFL Draft, where he was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round (No. 37 overall) of the 2010 draft.

The former Bull enjoyed a successful run in Philadelphia, helping the team secure two playoff berths, as well as recording a team- and career-high four interceptions in 2014.

Allen now sets on his sights on finding success in the Silver and Black in 2015, and is looking forward to refining his game under former All-Pro and current defensive backs coach Marcus Robertson.

“He, Coach Robertson]brings a lot of knowledge just from the little bit that I’ve sat down and talked to him,” Allen said. “Just to be able to work with somebody like that of his caliber, and even [assistant defensive backs coach] Rod Woodson, it’s great. I know they’re going to try to make me the best player I can be and I’m excited about that.”

In addition to Coach Robertson and Coach Woodson, Allen will have the added benefit of playing in the secondary with future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson.

“Obviously his resume speaks for himself,” Allen said of his new teammate. “He is who he is, a future Hall of Famer. Just to be able to work alongside a dude like that, I mean I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”

With both Allen and Woodson in the defensive secondary, Allen’s versatility will be on full display, as he can play both strong and free safety.

“We’ll figure all that out when the time comes, but like I’ve been saying, however I need to help the team win, I’m going to do it,” he said. I’m going to put the team over myself. Whatever I have to do to help the team win is what I’m going to do.”

Heading into 2015, Allen is excited for a fresh start and looking forward to putting the pads on and getting back to work.

The Oakland Raiders Sign Former Saints Linebacker Curtis Lofton

March, 11, 2015 5:06 PM PT

Shawn Jonas

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have signed free agent LB Curtis Lofton, the club announced Wednesday.

Lofton joins the Raiders after spending the last three seasons with the New Orleans Saints. A defensive team captain the past two years, Lofton led the team in tackles in each of his two seasons with the Saints. His career totals include 112 games played with 111 starts, 1,058 tackles (689 solo), seven sacks, 11 forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, seven interceptions and 38 passes defensed. He has exceeded 100 tackles each season and led his team in stops the last six seasons.

Before joining the Saints, Lofton spent four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. In 2011, the 6-foot, 241-pounder recorded a career-high 147 tackles (87 solo), and was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week following a Week 17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in which he led the team with 14 stops (eight solo) and had a 26-yard interception returned for a touchdown.

Lofton has also played in five career postseason games, totaling 45 tackles (27 solo) and one sack.

A native of Kingfisher, Oklahoma, Lofton was originally selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the second round (37th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma. Lofton played in 39 games at Oklahoma with 19 starts, including four starts at middle linebacker. He recorded 197 tackles (117 solo), one sack, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and three interceptions. His performance as a senior in 2007 earned him Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press and consensus All-American and All-Big 12 Conference honors.

Curtis Lofton signed a 3 year / $18,000,000 contract with the Oakland Raiders, including $6,500,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $6,000,000.

The Oakland Raiders Media Conference Call Q & A

Q: Did this develop pretty quickly over the last 24 hours or so?

Lofton: “Yeah, there was an interest on both sides and it got done really quickly.”

Q: Did they talk to you about what your role would be here and if you would be playing in the middle?

Lofton: “I think my role here is I’m going to be the middle linebacker and kind of the quarterback of the defense. Kind of help these young guys get lined up. Take charge and they brought me here to win.”

Q: What impressions do you have of Sio Moore and Khalil Mack?

Lofton: “I’ve seen some film of them, but I haven’t really seen enough to give you guys what I think of them just yet. I think I’d rather meet them and be around them before I start giving my opinion of them.”

Q: Was there something in talking to Ken Norton, Jr. and Jack Del Rio that attracted you to this defensive scheme?

Lofton: “I think the No. 1 thing that attracted me to the Raiders is just the passion, the energy, just the positive feeling that we’re going to get this thing turned around. Why not win now? Another cool thing about it is Coach Del Rio was a linebacker, played linebacker, Ken Norton Jr., he played linebacker, and then linebackers coach coach Sal Sunseri, they all played linebacker. So, they’re going to see it how I see it and I think they can help me take my game to the next level.”

Q: Is it difficult to separate the business side from a city and a town that you grew to love in New Orleans?

Lofton: “Yeah, it sucks getting cut. It sucks getting released. At the same time, like I said, there are a lot of things to look forward to. My future coming here, being a part of this. These great fans and the great history here. I cherish my time there but, walking outside and seeing the scenery and this weather, it’s tough to be disappointed about being here.”

Q: I’m sure you knock on wood when you hear people talking about your consecutive games played and all of that, but is your durability and availability a point of pride for you?

Lofton: “That’s definitely my pride. There have been times when I didn’t think I was going to be able to play and I found it within to play. I think I’ve got this burning force inside of me that loves to compete, and I feel like anytime I’m on the field, I give my team a great chance to win. So I always try to be out there regardless, and plus, I always put my team above my own needs and my own health. That’s how I’ve always been and that’s how I’ll always be.”

Q: Dan Williams said Charles Woodson and Justin Tuck were around to talk to him. To come to a team with two veterans of that kind of credibility in this league, how appealing is that?
Lofton: “I got to sit down and have dinner with Tuck last night, and it’s definitely appealing. He made a great case for here. I’ve got a ton of respect for him in this game. He told me, he said, ‘We’re missing a middle backer. We need you to be that guy.’ I thought about it and I signed up today, so I’m ready.”

Q: The Raiders have been connected to DeMarco Murray for about 24 hours, and you went to college with him. Will you play the role of recruiter now that you’re with the Raiders.

Lofton: “Man, I think you can’t have too many good players on one team, or too many good Sooners, that were former Sooners on one team. I reached out to DeMarco. I think he has a lot on his plate right now and I would love for him to be a part of this team. Man, it would be awesome to get him.”

Q: So you did reach out to Murray?

Lofton: “Yes, I did.”

Q: In terms of the responsibility of being the middle linebacker and knowing the scheme, are you going to try to sink your teeth into this playbook and try to get as immersed as possible in the time you have?

Lofton: “I think that I’ve been given some tools that will help me get into the book, this playbook, and start learning, and I’ll do that. But some of it, too, is just you have to walk it. You have to get a good feel for it. You’ve got to be around the guys, see how you’re going to play things. Coaches are still getting things together, so I feel like I’m definitely going to immerse myself as much as possible and learn the little bit they gave me and knock that out, so when I come back, I’ve got a jumpstart. But I’ve always been a fast learner.”

The Oakland Raiders Sign Former Washington Redskins Running Back Roy Helu Jr.

March 11, 2015 4:06 PM PT

Shawn Jonas

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have signed unrestricted free agent Running Back  Roy Helu, Jr., the club announced Wednesday.

Helu, Jr. has spent the previous four seasons with the Washington Redskins. He appeared in 48 games with five starts over his tenure with Washington, rushing for 1,132 yards on 255 carries (4.4 avg.) and seven touchdowns. Proving a versatile pass catcher out of the backfield, Helu, Jr. has added 1,152 receiving yards on 129 receptions (8.9 avg.) and three touchdowns. Since 2011, his 8.9 yards per catch rank seventh in the NFL amongst all running backs.

The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2011, rushing for 640 yards and adding another 379 receiving yards. For his efforts, he was named to the Pro Football Writers Association’s All-Rookie Team. Last season, Helu, Jr. set a career high with 477 receiving yards, an 11.4 receiving average and two receiving touchdowns. He led all Washington running backs in receiving yards in 2011 and 2013-14.

A native of nearby Danville, California, Helu, Jr. was originally selected by the Redskins in the fourth round (105th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Nebraska. He played in 48 career games for the Cornhuskers from 2007-10, making 28 starts and totaling 578 rushes for 3,404 rushing yards (5.9 avg.) and 28 touchdowns. He attended San Ramon Valley High School in nearby Danville, Calif., where he earned All-East Bay League honors in each of his final two seasons.

Roy Helu signed a 2 year / $4,000,000 contract with the Oakland Raiders, including an annual average salary of $2,000,000.

The Oakland Raiders Conference Call Q & A

Q: How appealing is it to come back home to play in the Bay Area?

Helu Jr.: “It’s appealing, it’s very appealing. We were just visiting here a week ago, almost exactly, and there’s the weather that is totally different. We don’t get snow here in the Bay Area like we did in Washington, so that’s a big attraction. But it’s appealing, really, just to return to familiarity, and with my family being in close proximity, their support and their support of my family with my wife and our kids. There was a lot of appeal to come back.”

Q: Did you talk to Jack Del Rio or Bill Musgrave about how you can contribute here?

Helu Jr.: “Yeah, not so much into all those details, but more so into the offense that will be run, the vision, and I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself again and landing here was another, I consider, a very unique opportunity. Coach Musgrave has an offensive background that seems to blend with a couple [styles] like a traditional offense and some spread. It was pretty appealing and it will be interesting to see how everything comes together once we get the team together here.”

Q: When you get drafted by a team run by Mike Shanahan, people tend to see you as a zone runner, yet the Raiders are talking about running a power scheme. How do you think your skillset fits into that?

Helu Jr.: “I’m attracted to a gap scheme as well. There is something that was really exciting about a power scheme whenever we would really run it out in Washington, whether it be from the gun or whether it be under center. That matched my ability and passion for running with patience, and what happens is when you run in a wide zone scheme, because the tempo is so fast, you really have to readjust what patience looks like. So I think whatever we will go to, but primarily if it’s gap or zone, zone I’ll be familiar with and gap, I have a desire to run as well.”

Q: You seemed to blossom as a pass receiver last year. Is that something you’ve been refining since you got in the league?

Helu Jr.: “Yeah, God blessed me with that skillset of good hand-eye coordinator. So that’s really planned out since I’ve been in high school by Coach Dave Kravitz, who has seen them all and identified that – he and my dad primarily when I was in sophomore in high school. A lot of my tape that was sent out had to do with the passing game and the screen game, which landed me at Nebraska. But I wasn’t nearly as good, to make it simple, as a pass receiver until I started really refining and sharpening my hands and my eyes, my hand-eye coordination, within these last couple years.”

Q: Coming to a team without a winning season since 2002, all of the free agents we have talked to have discussed the positive vibe around the building. What is it about what you are hearing from the coaches that makes you think you’re going to be a part of turning something around here?

Helu Jr.: “They are sold into turning this around as if it’s been their life goal and vision to actually have this opportunity to do so. I don’t know if many coaches are ambitious to get the job in Oakland, because of what you just said – since 2002. But I guess for me, what was glaring, as I already mentioned, was just the passion that they have for the vision that they have. Honestly, what I have bought into and I believe to be true is that what is going to make a difference is this offensive scheme that we’re going to be a part of. And that’s what – when I talked on the phone with coach Musgrave, our offensive coordinator – when he talked to me about some of the things that we’re going to do here in Oakland offensively and especially with Derek Carr and how that fits his skillset, I was in. I was pretty sold on it. So it’s not just, ‘Hey, we’re coming in to a situation where it’s been a losing culture, tradition, et cetera, and we’re going to continue with doing these certain things that have been here.’ I think the offense that’s going to be established here will be something that I guess has not been seen much prior to their arrival, if that all makes sense.”

Q: There is talk the Raiders might be in the mix for running back DeMarco Murray, somebody you’ve seen a couple of times a year. As a running back, would you welcome bringing another great running back in?

Helu Jr.: “Yes, and I say that confidently, because first off, I enjoy competition and I know that bringing DeMarco here will bring everybody’s game up in our running back group. Secondly, I don’t think there is any hindrance in bringing any very good player into an organization, especially where you want to start winning. So those two coupled together, I have no problem with other players being brought in. Obviously, I want to be a contributor to the offense and that’s my passion and my desire, but I’m not making the judgment calls on all those, and I’m content with that.”

The Oakland Raiders Sign Former Seattle Seahawks Linebacker Malcolm Smith

March 11, 2015 3:42 PM PT

Shawn Jonas

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have signed unrestricted free agent Linebacker Malcolm Smith, the club announced Wednesday.

Smith joins the Raiders following four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, helping Seattle to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances the last two years. In helping the Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII, Smith was named the game’s MVP after recording nine tackles (five solo), one fumble recovery and a 69-yard interception returned for a touchdown.

Over his four years in Seattle, the 6-foot, 226-pounder played in 57 games with 16 starts, totaling 105 tackles (68 solo), two sacks, three forced fumbles, two interceptions and seven passes defensed. He has also played in eight postseason games with eight starts, posting 27 tackles (16 solo), one fumble recovery, two interceptions and two passes defensed.

Last season, Smith played in 14 games with five starts for Seattle, posting 33 tackles (24 solo), two forced fumbles and one pass defensed.

A native of Northridge, California, Smith was originally selected by the Seahawks in the seventh round (242nd overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft out of USC. Playing three seasons under Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., who was the linebackers coach at USC from 2004-09, Smith played in 47 games over four seasons, recording 174 tackles, one sack and two interceptions.

Malcolm Smith signed a 2 year / $7,000,000 contract with the Oakland Raiders, including a $2,000,000 signing bonus, $3,750,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $3,500,000.

The Oakland Raiders Media Conference Call Q & A

Q: How much did having Ken Norton, Jr. here attract you to come play for the Raiders?

Smith: “It was a big part. It wasn’t the most important thing, but it was definitely a bonus and being familiar with him and his style and the things he wants to do. I feel like I can help him as well as help the team.”

Q: Was there any hesitation about going from one team that has had a lot of success over recent years to one that has not?

Smith: “It’s something that you think about, making that move. It’s something you have to consider, but I feel like this is a great opportunity for me to impart some of the things that I’ve learned on the team and hopefully encourage some guys around me, and we can get the most out of each other and turn this thing around.”

Q: Have they explained to you exactly what your role is going to be, if you will play in the middle some or focus on the outside?

Smith: “It hasn’t been really clear, but they’ve given me some ideas. The thought is to get the best guys on the field and I’m going to absolutely do my best to compete and get out there and whether that’s the middle or wherever else.”

Q: How did this whole thing come together, was it a long time coming or was it recent?

Smith: “Well, free agency just started a couple days ago, but I didn’t know what to expect going into the whole process. It kind of just happened and I’m happy the way it has turned out.”

Q: How big of a factor was coming to play for Ken Norton Jr.?

Smith: “It’s not the biggest factor but it’s definitely an awesome plus. I know his style, I know kind of the way he wants things to be done and I should know the system pretty well. I feel like it’s going to be an opportunity for me to show my skill.”

Q: How do you think you’ll be used?

Smith: “Honestly, I just want to find a way on the field. However that takes, I’m willing to do whatever and I’m going to do whatever for us to be a better team.”

Q: How would you describe your season last year and was it difficult coming from being Super Bowl MVP to playing as a reserve?

Smith: “I was a reserve in the Super Bowl, so you can only make as many plays as you get opportunities and that day I was fortunate enough to get a lot of opportunities. I’m just trying to take advantage of the opportunities. I can only dictate with my play, so, that’s what I plan on doing.”

The Oakland Raiders Sign Former Arizona Cardinals Defensive Tackle Dan Williams

March 11 3:11PM PT

Shawn Jonas

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have signed unrestricted free agent Defensive Tackle Dan Williams, the club announced Wednesday.

Williams joins Oakland following a five-year stint with the Arizona Cardinals, where he played in 70 games with 40 starts. He totaled 116 tackles (63 solo), two sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one interception and seven passes defensed.

Last season, the 6-foot-3, 315-pounder played in a career-high 16 games and started nine contests, setting a career high with 45 tackles as the Cardinals made the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

The Memphis, Tenn., native was originally selected by Arizona in the first round (26th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Tennessee. Williams started 32-of-45 games for the Volunteers and recorded 160 tackles and seven sacks. As a senior in 2009, he earned Associated Press All-SEC first-team honors after recording 70 tackles.

Dan Williams signed a 4 year / $25,000,000 contract with the Oakland Raiders, including $15,200,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $6,250,000.

The Oakland Raiders Media Conference Call Q & A

Q: You have a reputation as a guy who stops the run and you’re coming to a team that hasn’t been in the top half of the NFL in defending the run in more than 10 years. Is that your understanding of why they want you here?

Williams: “Well, not only for that, but to also help push the pocket a little bit more and try to get pressure on the quarterback also. I sometimes think that you can’t always justify how much pressure you get to the quarterback. A lot of times I did put pressure on the quarterback, but he just threw the ball before I got there or it was an incomplete pass. They definitely said they want me to push the pocket, but definitely we need to stop the run and just try to make the team more dimensional.”

Q: Is it correct that you were primarily a nose in the 3-4 in Arizona?

Williams: “Yeah. That’s how they used me, but a little bit last year, I moved around. I played some three-technique inside, sometimes outside, five-technique depending on who is playing and what front we were in. I think towards, especially last year, I got to show off a little bit more of my versatility and I just couldn’t be just a regular two-gap nose tackle.”

Q: What was it about the Raiders that attracted you to come here?

Williams: “I came here yesterday, I got to meet the coaches. I got to meet the G.M. Reggie McKenzie, the head coach Jack Del Rio and the defensive coaches, they really factored into my decision. Just talking to them and the way that they believe they can turn the team around. The biggest thing is it kind of reminded me how when [Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians first got there in Arizona two years ago, excited, they believe in the players that they have here and the players they are going to add. They believe we can turn this thing around and we can do it in a hurry. Once I got to sit down and talk to defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. and defensive line coach Jethro Franklin, that was pretty much the biggest factor in my decision. I think it will be a really good fit for myself and also I think I can definitely help out the Raiders, help turn things around.”

Q: When did this all come together?

Williams: “It was yesterday. I came in, my agent, I just told him what I like and he just told me in his opinion he just thought that my first visit should be to the Raiders. He told me that probably with the things that I told him I was looking for, he told me to just take my first visit out here. I came out here yesterday and met the coaches and like I said before, met everybody, even got a chance to meet Justin Tuck and today I got to meet Charles Woodson. Meeting those guys and those guys have won Super Bowls and reading their energy and dedication and how much they really want to turn things around in Oakland. Today, I just decided, I definitely want to be a part of this.”

Q: How big of a deal is that when guys like Charles Woodson and Justin Tuck are telling you that they want you on their team?

Williams: “A lot. Those guys won World Championships. From being on a different team, guys of that caliber, you obviously respect their game. When a guy has a ring on his finger, he definitely has done something and has been through things that I have never done. You always are ready to listen to someone who has been somewhere where you want to be. I know some other players too, of course Ricky Lumpkin, he played here last year and we were really close, I met him in Arizona. I got to meet a few more players here today, just out here working out. I just thought that I feel like I can fit in in the locker room here.”

Q: What did you learn from your experience in Arizona that you can bring to the Raiders?

Williams: “I think the biggest thing is the fact that I can now speak on how things can turn around quickly the quicker that you buy into the coaching system. The year before we were 5-11 and then B.A. Arians came in and he had those guys come in and everybody started believing and buying into what they were trying to do. We switched around from being 5-11 to 10-6. Last year we improved to even better, 11-5, and made it to the playoffs. A lot depends on buying in and just seeing if everyone does it we can definitely have great results. If we ever have an issue like that, I can probably, from experience, speak on that because I’ve seen what has happened when a new head coach comes in and everyone buys in. It doesn’t have to be a rebuilding year or we only one two games last year, let’s win five. We’ve got a new coach, we’ve got new people, a new system, let’s win right away instead of waiting two or three years or something. Just trying to change the mindset a little bit and just trying to get off to a good start.”

The Oakland Raiders Sign Former Buffalo Bills Tight End Lee Smith

March 11, 2015 2:32 PM PT

Shawn Jonas

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have signed unrestricted free agent Tight End Lee Smith, the club announced Wednesday.

Smith, 27, joins the Raiders after four seasons with the Buffalo Bills (2011-14). Smith’s career totals include 56 games played with 34 starts, 20 receptions for 144 yards (7.2 avg.) and three touchdowns.

Smith joined the Bills via waivers from the New England Patriots shortly before the 2011 regular season. In 2014, Smith appeared in 14 games and led all Bills tight ends with 10 starts. He hauled in seven catches for 42 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown in the Bills’ season-ending victory over New England.

Smith appeared in every game for the Bills from 2012-13, starting 21-of-32 games played during that span. He recorded two receiving touchdowns in 2012, a career high, and totaled a career-high 78 receiving yards in 2013.

The Powell, Tenn., native was originally selected by the Patriots in the fifth round (159th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Marshall. Smith totaled 75 receptions for 791 yards and three touchdowns, and served two seasons as a captain on the Thundering Herd. In his senior year, Smith ranked second on the team with 38 receptions for 358 yards (9.4 avg.), earning him All-Conference USA honors and an Allstate Good Works Team nomination.

Lee Smith signed a 3 year / $9,100,000 contract with the Oakland Raiders, including $3,100,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $3,033,333

The Oakland Raiders Media Conference Call Q & A

Q: Can you describe how this deal came together?

Smith: “Obviously, after finishing my first four years out there in Buffalo, it became pretty clear that I was going to be hitting free agency, so [tight ends coach] Bobby Johnson and [quarterbacks coach] Todd Downing were obviously out here, both of which I’ve had a relationship with in the past and have been around me and coached me. I figured that they were there and when it was time for teams to get in touch with me, that maybe they would be one of the ones to do it, at least I hoped so. I hoped those two guys would have good things to say about me. So when they call, it was rewarding to know that I kind of impressed those guys over the years and they trust me to get out here and get to work, and get this thing going in the right direction with them.”

Q: You were used a lot as a blocking tight end in Buffalo. Do you see that as your strength? Can you do more on the receiving end than you’ve shown so far?

Smith: “You get to work every Sunday for this football team, so whatever package that ends up being is obviously humbling and rewarding for me. I’ve got four kids at home and I get their support by playing football for a living. Just like anybody else out there, I obviously think I can contribute in many ways to help this football team win. But whatever those ways are, as long as I’m out there playing football every Sunday, then I’ll be having a lot of fun and enjoying helping this team win. So sure, of course I can catch the ball if they threw it to me, but whatever they ask me to do is what I’ll do.”

Q: What is the one part of your game you take the most pride in?

Smith: “Over the years, people have kind of referred to me as a lunch-pail guy and I take a lot of pride in that. Hopefully, the guy that I’m putting my hand in the dirt beside trusts me and can count on me to fight my tail off until the whistle blows, and maybe here and there I might not hear the whistle blow. (laughing) So just the grinding aspect of my game and getting in there with the hogs and fighting my tail off, and hopefully getting the running backs of the Oakland Raiders to the second level is kind of what gets me fired up and excited to play ball.”

Q: If playing in offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s traditionally run-heavy offense is a natural fit for his blocking capabilities?

Smith: “Absolutely. I’m excited about getting to work with the plans that we have here in Oakland as far as offensively and running the ball. Obviously, Derek’s doing great things and is a great young talent. It never hurts the guy taking snaps to get that run game going, it makes it a lot easier. Obviously, that’s kind of what we want to do around here, and if they think that I can help with that, then you know what, that’s very humbling. I’ll buckle my chinstrap and go to work and hopefully, do everything they envision me being able to do.”

The Oakland Raiders Sign Former Kansas City Chiefs Center Rodney Hudson

March 11, 2015 2:05 PM PT

Shawn Jonas

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have signed unrestricted free agent C Rodney Hudson, the club announced Wednesday.

Hudson has started 31 games at center over the last two seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Entering his fifth NFL season, Hudson has appeared in 51 games with 35 starts for Kansas City. He was originally selected by the Chiefs in the second round (55th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft. After playing in all 16 games as a rookie, Hudson started the first three games at left guard in 2012 before suffering a season-ending leg injury. He took over as the team’s starting center in 2013, helping Kansas City to back-to-back winning seasons from 2013-14.

The Mobile, Ala., native attended Florida State, appearing in 53 games with 50 starts at both guard and center. The 6-foot-2, 300-pounder earned All-ACC honors all four years and holds the conference’s career record for being named ACC Player of the Week nine times. He was also a two-time winner (2009-10) of the Jacobs Blocking Award, given to the player voted the most outstanding blocker in the ACC by a poll of head coaches and defensive coordinators.

Rodney Hudson signed a 5 year / $44,500,000 contract with the Oakland Raiders, including $20,000,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $8,900,000.

Media Conference Call Q & A 

Q: Can you describe how this all came together and were you surprised that the Raiders were in the mix so heavily?
Hudson: “It happened so fast. As the season was over and the months started to fly by, and here we are today. I can’t even really remember how fast it happened, but I’m excited and I’m excited for the opportunity.”

Q: What was it about the Raiders that attracted you to sign here?

Hudson: “This is a great franchise with great tradition. I know some guys that played for some of these coaches that are friends of mine and they had nothing but great things to say. I think we have a good opportunity to come in and do some stuff.”

Q: Did you get a chance to talk to Jack Del Rio yet, and if you have, any discussions on what he liked about your game and how he thought he would use you?

Hudson: “I talked to him briefly. He’s excited for the opportunity to work with me and same with me with him. We’re excited to get started and get to work.”

Q: Is the Raiders new no-huddle offense approach something that attracted you to this team?

Hudson: “I think so. I’m excited. I think it’s a good to have in the playbook and I’m excited to get in and start learning with the guys and from the coaches and get started.”

Q: What was the motivating factor behind your decision to leave Kansas City and come to Oakland?

Hudson: “There is not one thing in particular. I have nothing to say bad about Kansas City. I enjoyed my time there. I grew a lot as an individual and as a football player and I’m thankful for that. I have nothing bad to say. I think this is a great opportunity for me and I’m excited about it.”

Q: Was Kansas City’s initial offer lower than the Raiders or on par?
Hudson: “Out of respect to the situation, I really won’t go into specifics about that. I would prefer not to.”

Q: Are you excited about the role of a leader on and off the field and a role that you feel like you can fill pretty well?

Hudson: “Definitely. I think so. I think I need to be, personally, as a center. I think leadership comes with the position and I have to do that. I’ve had that role in previous years and I’m looking forward to it and looking forward to getting ready with the guys and start learning and getting after it.”

Q: What are the things that you like about Derek Carr?

Hudson: “I think playing in the same division as Oakland and watching him last year, we obviously played some of the same teams. We played some of the same teams that he had the chance to play. I think you notice just from watching that he’s a smart kid. You watch him direct things out there and you can tell that he knows what he’s doing and he’s a good player obviously.”

Q: Was this a difficult choice for you to come to the Raiders or were you going back and forth between a couple of different teams?

Hudson: “I think any time, in anything, you’ve been one place so long and you pick up and move, I think there is a little bit of difficulty in that. I remember how difficult it was to get up and go to college after being in one place for so long. But, I’m not really concerned about picking up and moving. I think it’s a good opportunity and I’m looking for it.”

Q: What do you think about going up against the Kansas City Chiefs twice a year now?

Hudson: “It will definitely be weird at first, but it will be fun. I think any time you’re blessed with the opportunity to go out there and compete against another team on Sundays, it’s obviously fun and I look forward to it.”

Q: What was that atmosphere like last year in the Thursday night game at the Coliseum?

Hudson: “Yeah, the fans there have always been awesome. Over the years playing there, that’s one thing that they talk about is the fans, they’re always loud and into the game and very passionate about it. The Thursday night game was great, that’s the kind of atmosphere you look forward to playing in. It was great.”

Q: With the Raiders at 11-37 over the last three years and not having a winning season since 2002, what did Coach Del Rio and Reggie McKenzie say to you to get you on board and think that you could be a part of turning this around?

Hudson: “I think as a group, any time things don’t go the way you want them or anything, you have to just get back to it and get to work. There is a lot of positive energy. These guys are excited, I’m excited. I met a few players, they’re very excited to get started. I think any time you have that good, positive energy around it is good. It’s something to feed off of, feed off each other and work towards the goal.”

With Ndamukong Suh Landing With Dolphins: Raiders Are Focused On Terrance Knighton

March 8, 2015

Shawn Jonas

The Raiders were linked to Ndamukong Suh, he was supposedly going to make a visit to Oakland next week. It seems as if he is off the market.

Contract details are starting to leak, making it appear more and more like the Miami Dolphins will sign free agent defensive tackle as soon as free agency opens Tuesday afternoon. Miami was not the only team chasing Suh, however, and now those other teams are starting to turn their attention to their other targets.

Sun’s deal with the Dolphins is said to be a six year deal worth $114 million with $60 million gauranteed.

The Oakland Raiders and Terrance Knighton have been linked since Jack Del Rio signed on as head coach. Kingston had tweeted out  to AP’s @arniestapleton : “I want to be wherever Jack is. I’ll just leave it at that.” #Raiders .The Raiders are heavily invested in Denver’s Terrance Knighton, per a league source.

Knighton had followed Del Rio from Jacksonville to Denver, and has played five seasons under Jack.  Knighton has said Del Rio would be someone he would speak to if a deal can’t get worked out in Denver.

Del Rio spoke highly of Knighton last month at the NFL Scouting Combine.

“We drafted him, and we thought at that time he was kind of a dancing bear type,” Del Rio said at the time. “Kind of a big powerful man that can stay on his feet and run down the line. This game is about big, powerful men, so that the guys that have the skill level can do their things. So, this big, powerful man played well in Jacksonville. We got back together, he played well in Denver and so I appreciate that. I respect that.

“We have to have those kinds of people in our trenches on the offensive and defensive line in order to play the kind of football we expect to play.”

Another option or even a bonus next to Knighton, if he lands in Oakland, would be the young Jared Odrick from the Miami Dolphins.

The Dolphins have stated they would like to bring Odrick back to the team, but the Suh move seems to signal that they will not make a full effort to re-sign Odrick as he enters his sixth-season in the NFL. Odrick, Miami’s first-round Draft choice in 2010, has recorded 16.5 sacks, one interception, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and 129 tackles in his career.

Miami could still find a way to make the roster space to re-sign Odrick, looking to keep the 2010 28th pick next to the 2010 second overall pick once Suh officially joins the team. Odrick, however, is likely going to command a contract worth at least $7 million, a number, now that Suh is off the market, that could quickly exceed the Dolphins’ ability to pay if other teams start a bidding war.

Possible landing spots for Odrick;  Jacksonville, Oakland, Denver