As NFL training camps begin to ramp up and with the Oakland Raiders’ less than one week away, 90 players become 53 in one fell swoop in 2017.
While it’s likely that Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie still has a couple more moves up his sleeve before this roster is fully fleshed out, a final 53-man roster projection before camp seemed in order.
QB (3): Derek Carr, EJ Manuel, Connor Cook
Here come’s the spoiler alert — Derek Carr is going to be the starting quarterback for Oakland in 2017.
The Oakland Raiders have established one of the best offensive lines in the league led by Raiders tackle Donald Penn, guard Gabe Jackson, guard Kelechi Osemele and center Rodney Hudson.
Amazingly, the two Oakland guards went all of 2016 without giving up a quarterback sack, per Pro Football Focus. In addition, there were only two other players in the entire NFL who gave up zero sacks last season making the feat even more impressive.
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Not mentioned above, but Penn didn’t give up a sack until Week 16 of the regular season. It seems that every player, except at right tackle, is a brick wall and no defensive player can get by, shown by the lack of sacks given up.
With Oakland making Raiders quarterback Derek Carr the highest paid player in NFL history, protecting the quarterback will become even more important.
Any wasted salary can not be tolerated going forward as Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack, Carr and Jackson will be taking up a major portion of the cap. Therefore, all those guys must be healthy to have any future success.
Most importantly, the Raiders should be able to extend Carr’s career dramatically if this caliber of play from the offensive line continues. The play should not drop off as most of the guys on the offensive line, like Osemele and Jackson, are in the prime of their careers.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr just signed a record-breaking deal with Oakland, but with the deal’s set up, it provides the opportunity for the Raiders to sign their young players to extensions, like Raiders guard Gabe Jackson.
Carr’s contract has most of the money upfront and actually has an out after 2018, providing a possible time for Carr to restructure to keep or add talent. Therefore, there will be money available for Jackson and for the other young Oakland players whose contracts will expire.
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In addition, many teams’ offensive line suffers after they give their quarterback a payday because they don’t have enough money to go around. Consequently, teams can easily decline after not having the cap space to protect their quarterback, like the Seattle Seahawks have recently.
Luckily for Raider Nation, McKenzie has crafted a way to pay his MVP-caliber quarterback but keep the remaining players, like Jackson, that make the team special.
The 2017 offseason program is underway for the Oakland Raiders, with 90 players currently on a roster that will ultimately be trimmed to 53 players by Week 1.
Below, fans can find Raiders Wire’s first 53-man projection on offense in a series that will be updated throughout OTAs.
Derek Carr, Connor Cook, EJ Manuel
Notable cuts: None
This is probably the easiest position group to project for next season. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is going to be an MVP candidate again in 2017, making the starting quarterback job a no-brainer.
The Raiders carried three quarterbacks in 2016, and there is no reason to believe that will be any different this year.
Oakland also used a fourth-round draft pick on backup quarterback Connor Cook, making it unlikely they would cut bait so soon. And former Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel is almost certainly going to challenge — and potentially win — the No. 2 spot on the depth chart behind Carr.