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Jon Gruden Agrees with Raiders Owner Mark Davis on State of Team: “I Feel Mark’s Pain”

A day after Raiders owner Mark Davis gave Jon Gruden a vote of confidence, calling Gruden’s hiring as coach the “endgame” for him, Gruden reciprocated the feeling, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN reports.

“I feel Mark’s pain,” Gruden said in his weekly media conference, after the Raiders’ 20-6 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers dropped Oakland’s record to 1-8 in Gruden’s first season back on the sideline following nine seasons in ESPN’s Monday Night Football booth.

“I talk to Mark after every game and these are unpleasant conversations. It’s tough, man, we want to win. We want to win. We also want to do right by this organization and some of these decisions have been really tough, but I want to deliver for him and his family, certainly, and this organization and right now, it’s tough. But it’s great to have him support me and I appreciate it. But I feel the same way he does — I just want to win.”

The Raiders are Awful; and Owner Mark Davis Says It’s All His Fault

In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN after the Raiders’ 20-6 loss to the Chargers on Sunday, owner Mark Davis accepted blame for the team’s 1-8 start, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN reports.

Davis also touched on topics from the Khalil Mack trade to where he hopes his team will play in 2019 to how years of draft misses have contributed to where they are now to his belief in coach Jon Gruden and how general manager Reggie McKenzie might fit in the future. Davis also acknowledged that the Raiders lost their way in last season’s defeat at Washington, a game in which the team could not agree on how to protest during the national anthem.

“I always look in the mirror, and the buck stops with me,” Davis said during the 45-minute sitdown at a waterfront restaurant in Jack London Square. “Where this team is right now is my fault. We haven’t been able to build a 22-man roster. We haven’t been able to give this team a chance to win because the Reconstruction failed. We failed from 2014 on to have a roster right now.”

Davis was referring to his two-phase, four-year Deconstruction/Reconstruction project, which began in 2012, months after the death of Al Davis, under McKenzie. Davis said a team should be able to get five players, three from the draft and two in free agency, every year that would serve as foundation pieces going forward. McKenzie was initially hamstrung because of the trade for quarterback Carson Palmer in 2011 that cost Oakland its first-rounder in 2012 and a second-rounder in 2013.

The Raiders drafted what Davis saw as legitimate foundation pieces in edge rusher Khalil Mack, quarterback Derek Carr, offensive lineman Gabe Jackson and receiver Amari Cooper in 2014 and 2015. But no such pieces in 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2017.

The trade of Mack, then, was a tough decision to make, even if it netted Oakland a package that included two first-round picks.

Davis said Oakland reached out to Mack’s agent Joel Segal after the team signed Carr to his five-year, $125 million contract in June of 2017 and presented him with a contract extension that would have made Mack the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.

“But they decided they didn’t want to do it that early,” Davis said. “They would wait.”

Mack played the 2017 season and then Gruden was hired in January of this year. Davis said Gruden called Mack and spoke to him briefly.

“That’s the last time Jon and Khalil talked,” said Davis, who added that the Raiders again talked with Segal during the combine about an extension that would still make Mack the highest-paid defensive player in the league. Mack’s representatives countered with an offer that “was not going to happen, was not doable for us,” Davis said.

“From that point on, (Mack) would not talk to anyone in our organization,” Davis said. “Not Reggie, not Jon, not anybody.”

“Jon wanted him. Everybody thinks that Jon’s the one who wanted to get rid of him. Jon wanted him badly. Why wouldn’t you want this guy? Reggie wanted him badly. And I wanted him badly, too. But, if in fact we were going to give the type of money that we were going to give to him, and we had Derek on that type of a (contract), how were we going to go ahead and build this football team, with all the holes that we had?”

Raiders CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Says He’s Retiring

Raiders veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, announced his retirement in an Instagram post Tuesday, ESPN reports.

The 32-year-old veteran, who was playing in his 11th NFL season with the Oakland Raiders, said he was “at peace with my decision. Y’all may not understand and that’s kool!!!”

Though he didn’t play a snap in the Raiders’ loss to the Colts on Sunday, Rodgers-Cromartie was active for seven games this season, making eight tackles and forcing one fumble. He had played the previous four seasons for the New York Giants, following previous stops with the Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals.

The Raiders Are Willing to Move WR Amari Cooper; But the Asking Price is High

The Raiders are reportedly seeking a first-round draft pick in exchange for wide receiver Amari Cooper according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Jay Glazer of Fox Sports first reported that the team was interested in moving the former first-round pick before the October 30 trade deadline. Following Oakland’s blowout loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday in London, Gruden wouldn’t discuss whether the Raiders were looking to deal away Cooper, who suffered a concussion in the game. And any potential trade would be further complicated by the concussion Cooper suffered in Sunday’s blowout loss and his continued inconsistency.

Originally the No.4-overall pick in the 2015 draft out of Alabama, Cooper looked like a future Hall-of-Famer in his first two NFL seasons with back-to-back 1,000+-yard seasons but his play has deteriorated significantly since.

He has been plagued with drops and thus far has only 22 catches for 280 yards and two touchdowns in 2018-although to be fair, every aspect of the team has been terrible since Gruden took over the helm last spring. It seems unimaginable that any team would pay Gruden’s asking price for a struggling player like Cooper.

What has become increasingly evident is Gruden’s determination to tear apart the Raiders organization and the roster put together by GM (now in name only) Reggie McKenzie.

Cooper was McKenzie’s 2015 first-round pick. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Khalil Mack, traded to the Chicago Bears during a contract holdout, was McKenzie’s 2014 first-round pick. Rumors abound that Gruden is shopping 2016 first-round safety Karl Joseph and he benched 2017 first-round CB Gareon Conley last week.

Starting quarterback Derek Carr, only a second-round pick, is disintegrating before our very eyes under Gruden’s tutelage. And if Gruden has any real plan to improve on or at least replace all this talent, it is not apparent. The only thing that seems apparent is that Gruden wants total control over a roster that only Gruden has selected.

Raiders at Chargers NFL Week Five Inactives

Here’s the week five inactives for the Raiders and Chargers

Raiders

DE Shilique Calhoun
S Karl Joseph
WR Brandon LaFell
CB Nick Nelson
OG Kelechi Osemele
OG Ian Silberman
RB DeAndre Washington

Chargers

OT Joe Barksdale
WR Travis Benjamin
DE Joey Bosa
WR J.J. Jones
OT Russell Okung
OT Cole Toner
LB Kyzir White

Talks Between Raiders and DE Khalil Mack Going Nowhere Fast

The situation between the Raiders and defensive end Khalil Mack remains at a standstill, Herbie Teope of NFL.com reports.

Mack, who hasn’t reported to training camp, enters the final year of his contract on a fifth-year option, which pays a base salary of $13.8 million.

The Raiders, however, haven’t come forward with a present offer and there have been no contract discussions with Mack’s agent, Joel Segal, since February, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday.

The Raiders hope to improve defensively under coach Jon Gruden, but the unit simply isn’t the same without Mack.

Over the past four seasons, Mack has developed into one of the NFL’s elite pass rushers, totaling 40.5 sacks over the past four seasons. Mack, a three-time Pro Bowler, has garnered first-team All-Pro selections twice (2015-16) and was also named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2016.

In the meantime, Rapoport previously categorized the discussions as “tense” and it appears there won’t be any resolution any time soon.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to go through this,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said, via Vic Tafur of The Athletic. “But his camp decided to do it this way … and Khalil is not the first guy to hold out. But we’ll get through this. But there is nothing really to report. He is going to hold out until he gets an extension, and that’s where we are.”

Raiders CB Gareon Conley Out Two Weeks with a Sore Hip

Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley is dealing with another training camp injury and is expected to miss at least two weeks because of a hip strain.

Conley has not practiced since the first day of training camp last week and only made a brief appearance Monday while the rest of the team worked out in pads.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden did not specify how long Conley’s recovery will take, but it seems certain that the 24th overall pick in 2017 will at least sit out the team’s first preseason game against Detroit on Aug. 10.

Raiders Place LT Donald Penn, DT Eddie Vanderdoes and P.J. Hall on PUP List

The Raiders have placed starting left tackle Donald Penn on the physically unable to perform list to start training camp.

The Raiders also announced Tuesday that defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes and rookie defensive tackle P.J. Hall are on the PUP list. The Raiders hold their first training camp practice on Friday.

Penn is recovering from a season-ending foot injury that forced him to undergo surgery and is not quite ready at the start of camp.

Vanderdoes tore his ACL in the final game of last season.

Hall’s injury is undisclosed.