Thu Apr 22 6:36pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Nov. 1, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock stands on the field before the team's NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland. The Raiders spent the start of free agency dismantling their expensive offensive line, trading away three highly paid starters for mid-round picks. While most outsiders viewed the moves to deal Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson and Trent Brown as a setback for the Raiders, Mayock sees opportunity ahead for line coach Tom Cable to build around young players like Kolton Miller and Andre James. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)
The Las Vegas Raiders spent the start of free agency dismantling their expensive offensive line, trading away three high-paid starters for mid-round picks.
While most outsiders viewed the moves to deal Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson and Trent Brown as a setback for the Raiders, general manager Mike Mayock sees opportunity ahead for line coach Tom Cable to build around young players like Kolton Miller and Andre James.
''We think we're getting younger,'' Mayock said Thursday. ''I'm excited and energized by what our offensive line room is starting to look like and I'm excited and energized because I think Tom Cable feels the same way. We have all the respect in the world for Rodney and Gabe and Trent, but at this point, we made a conscious decision to try to get younger, maybe a little bit more athletic and let's go. I can't wait to see how we react.''
The Raiders could add to that group next week in a draft rich with possibilities. Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw, Oklahoma State's Tevin Jenkins, Southern California's Alijah Vera-Tucker, Texas' Sam Cosmi and Notre Dame's Liam Eichenberg are among the players who could be available in the first two rounds of the draft.
But Mayock said he's content for now with the options he has. Miller is set for the long term at left tackle after signing an extension this offseason, veteran left guard Richie Incognito is back for another season, James and free agent addition Nick Martin are competing at center, 2020 fourth-round pick John Simpson and versatile Denzelle Good are at right guard and former street free agent Jaryd Jones-Smith is a possibility to start at right tackle despite playing no offensive snaps since entering the league in 2018.
The returns on the draft have been spotty for the Raiders since coach Jon Gruden returned in 2018 and Mayock joined him as general manager the following season.
Miller is the only real contributor left from the 2018 class. The 2019 class, which featured three first-round picks, has been more productive with players like Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs, Trayvon Mullen, Maxx Crosby and Hunter Renfrow all being solid contributors, though none have become impact players.
Last year's rookie class was a disappointment with first-round receiver Henry Ruggs III catching only 26 passes as a rookie, first-round cornerback Damon Arnette struggling and the Raiders getting little last season out of three third-round picks. Lynn Bowden Jr. was traded before the season, receiver Bryan Edwards caught only 11 passes and linebacker Tanner Muse struggled in camp adjusting from safety and then missed the season with a toe injury.
Mayock said he still believes in his two 2020 first-round picks.
''I'm excited about both of them,'' Mayock said. ''I don't think there is any question in our building how talented they both are. Henry has got to get stronger. Damon has got to get stronger. They're both spending an awful lot of time this offseason, both with the strength and also the conditioning aspects. In my mind we are going to see different guys. ... We need consistency and effort and I'm a big believer in both those kids. I'm really excited to see them play this year.''
The Green Bay Packers will bring in quarterbacks Chad Kelly and Kurt Benkert to this weekend's rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. Benkert went undrafted out of Virginia and spent the last three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, mainly on the practice squad. Kelly, the nephew of Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, was taken with the final pick of the 2017 draft by the Denver Broncos, but he washed out of Denver after two seasons. He's been with the Indianapolis Colts the last two years but was released. Both players could become camp arms with upside further down the depth chart if they sign in Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love, last year's first-round pick, are the only signal-callers currently on the roster.
Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio said there is no pressure for rookie quarterback Davis Mills to perform in a hurry despite the turmoil surrounding Deshaun Watson and more than 20 lawsuits filed against him. "No different than any other player," Caserio said of the timeline of bringing along the first-year signal-caller. "Bring him in, teach him our system, teach him our terminology, take it one step at a time." It's unclear what will happen with Watson as the legal proceedings play out, but the Texans weren't looking to trade him, despite his public request, before his legal issues arose. Since then, trade chatter surrounding Watson has quieted down. The three-time Pro Bowler could remain with the Texans in 2021, but wherever he's playing, he could be facing a lengthy suspension as well.
Tennessee Titans TE Parker Hesse, LB Matthew Orzech and LB Nate Orchard were waived Monday, May 10.
Free-agent QB Kurt Benkert (Falcons) and QB Chad Kelly (Colts) will participate in the Green Bay Packers rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, according to sources.
Free-agent WR Dede Westbrook (Jaguars) has had preliminary conversations with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Washington Football Team signed wide receiver Curtis Samuel to a three-year deal this offseason, reuniting him with head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner from their time together with the Carolina Panthers. Rivera drafted Samuel in 2017, and Turner was the quarterbacks coach in Carolina from 2018-2019. "You can do a lot of different things with him," Turner said. "He's only 24 years old, I think he's just scratching the surface on what he's capable of." Samuel broke out in 2020, catching a career-high 77 passes for 851 yards and three touchdowns, adding 200 rushing yards and two more TDs. Samuel will be the No. 2 behind Terry McLaurin and will be an ideal fit for this offense. He'll be a low-end WR2 with Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing him passes.
The Los Angeles Chargers signed free-agent defensive tackle Christian Covington to an undisclosed deal on Monday, according to his agent. Covington was a sixth-round pick by the Houston Texans out of Rice in 2015. He's also spent time with the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals in his six NFL seasons. Covington started 14 of the 16 games he played in for the Bengals last season and was on the field for 53 percent of the team's defensive snaps. The 27-year-old had 39 tackles (14 solo) and one QB hit. In his NFL career, Covington has 132 tackles (15 for loss), 20 QB hits, two passes defensed, one forced fumble and 8.5 sacks in 82 games (29 starts).
The Kansas City Chiefs signed former linebacker Tamba Hali to a one-day contract on Monday so he can officially retire with the organization. The six-time Pro Bowler played with the Chiefs for his entire 12-year career. The 37-year-old last played in the NFL in 2017, but he made the Pro Bowl with Kansas City in five straight seasons from 2011 to 2015. He was the 20th overall pick in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft and finished his illustrious career with 596 tackles (105 for loss), 159 QB hits, two interceptions (one for a touchdown), 16 passes defensed, 33 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries (one for a TD) and 89.5 sacks in 177 regular season games (157 starts).
Ex-Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin has drawn interest from multiple teams and should find a home soon, according to sources informed of the situation. The fifth-rounder in 2018 appeared in 46 games for the Seahawks, recording one sack, six QB hits and 25 tackles. Griffin's twin brother, Shaquill Griffin, signed a big deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason. The twins played together at UCF and in Seattle, so Griffin may be looking to join his brother in Jacksonville. His new club could be looking at him as a full-time pass-rusher after he played off the ball in Seattle. The 25-year-old became the odd-man out in Seattle after the team added Jordyn Brooks, Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven to the position in recent seasons.
Pro Bowl left tackle Eric Fisher is signing a one-year, $9.4 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts on Monday, according to a source. The former No. 1 overall pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013 will now be quarterback Carson Wentz's blind-side protector in 2021. The 30-year-old tore his right Achilles before the Super Bowl last year and was cut by KC. The Colts won't rush Fisher back, though, so there's a chance that he's not ready to play until early October. Coming out of this year's NFL draft, the left tackle position was still a big area of need for the Colts, but this signing takes care of that and makes their offensive line even more elite. It's excellent news as Wentz tries to bounce back from a disastrous final season with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2020. It's also great news for second-year running back Jonathan Taylor.
Former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Antwaun Woods, who was waived last week, is visiting the Indianapolis Colts on Monday, according to a source. Woods, a former undrafted free agent out of USC, played two seasons with the Tennessee Titans before joining the Cowboys in 2018. The 6-foot-1, 310-pounder has recorded 83 tackles (25 solo), four tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, one pass defensed and two fumble recoveries in 40 career games (32 starts) with the Titans and Cowboys. Woods helped spark Dallas' midseason improvement on defense last year when he was moved into the starting lineup, and he finished with 23 tackles (seven solo), one sack and two QB pressures in 14 games (seven starts) in 2020. He'd be a rotational nose tackle for Indy if he were to sign.
Free-agent LB Tamba Hali (Chiefs) signed a one-day contract with the Kansas City Chiefs Monday, May 10, so he can retire as a member of the organization.
Free-agent DE Christian Covington (Bengals) agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Chargers Monday, May 10. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Free-agent QB Blaine Gabbert (Buccaneers) agreed to an undisclosed deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Monday, May 10.
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers could realistically land with the Denver Broncos, who have the second-most salary cap space in football.
Fantasy Spin: Rodgers' fantasy value will be about the same wherever he calls signals next season. Denver's thin air can be brutal on a body, and Rodgers has a lengthy injury history. That would be the only concern for the upper-middle QB1.
Buffalo Bills WR Cole Beasley leads all receivers with 180 catches over the last three seasons while lined up in the slot, according to Pro Football Focus.