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Draft review: Oakland Raiders

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After analyzing the draft needs of all 32 teams, PFT will review how well each team addressed those needs. Up next: The Oakland Raiders. 

What they needed: Defensive line, quarterback, offensive line, cornerback, tight end, wide receiver.

Who they got:
Round 1: D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston.
Round 2: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State.
Round 3: Sio Moore, LB, Connecticut.
Round 4: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas.
Round 6: Nick Kasa, TE, Colorado.
Round 6: Latavius Murray, RB, UCF.
Round 6: Mychal Rivera, TE, Tennessee.
Round 6: Stacy McGee, DT, Oklahoma.
Round 7: Brice Butler, WR, San Diego State.
Round 7: David Bass, DE, Missouri Western.

Where they hit: Hayden, who survived a freakish life-threatening internal injury suffered in November, could be the Raiders’ top cornerback in short order. With the second-rounder acquired from Miami, the Raiders added Watson, a tackle prospect with upside. Moore is a good scheme fit, and Wilson could prove a very good value if he plays to his best collegiate form.

Where they missed: The Raiders didn’t draft a defensive lineman until Round Six. There’s playing time to be had for ends Bass and Jack Crawford (2012 fifth-rounder) and tackles McGee and Christo Bilukidi (2012 sixth-rounder) behind the Raiders’ veteran starters, but Oakland could use a little more help at both line positions. In McKenzie’s defense, the Raiders have numerous needs, and on first analysis, he did quite well to add talent and depth in this draft.

Impact rookies: Given the state of the Raiders’ roster, all 10 drafted rookies have a chance to make the team, and several could earn game-day snaps of consequence in Year One, so we’re going to cast a slightly wider net than usual here.

Hayden has the best shot to start. He should compete with Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins right off the bat. Moore is also a player to watch; the Raiders have revamped their LB corps this offseason but don’t have any standouts. A talented fresh face has a chance to make an impact early at this position. Watson’s best opportunity to start in 2013 is at right tackle, but that’s no sure thing, given his lack of experience.

Rivera is a potential sleeper, given the Raiders’ lack of a clear-cut top target at tight end after the departure of Brandon Myers. And then we come to Wilson. Matt Flynn will get first run at the starting job. Wilson will have to be a quick study to challenge Flynn and Terrelle Pryor. However, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Long-term prospects: Give McKenzie credit — this roster has improved at numerous positions compared to where it stood earlier in the spring. In the best-case scenario for the Raiders’ Class of 2013, these three things happen: 1) Hayden is a starter-caliber player from the get-go; 2) Watson and Wilson build on their potential; 3) the Day Three picks other than Wilson provide solid depth, with one or two panning out better than Oakland expected.

Make no mistake: the Raiders have a lot of catching up to do in the AFC West. However, there’s vast opportunity for some young players to seize some key roles. The Raiders have to hope more than a few rise to the occasion.

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Source: No deal yet between Marshawn, Seahawks

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It’s currently expected that the Seahawks and running back Marshawn Lynch will strike a new deal pursuant to which Lynch will return to the team for at least one more year.  But that hasn’t officially happened yet.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the meeting between Lynch and the Seahawks is due to start at 2:00 p.m. PT.  It’s believed that an agreement will be finalized at that time.

It’s also believed that the contract will commit Lynch to the Seahawks for at least one more year, at a significant increase over the $7 million he was due to earn in 2015.

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Report: Marshawn Lynch will return for another year in Seattle

Marshawn Lynch AP

Beast Mode is back for another run.

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has agreed to a new contract and will return for another season in Seattle, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

Lynch has been noncommittal over the last month about whether he wants to keep playing football, and there had been talk that he might decide to retire. But the Seahawks have apparently enticed him to stay by offering him more money. Seattle also agreed to re-do Lynch’s contract last year to get him to show up to training camp.

Most players can’t get away with threatening to quit if they don’t get more money year after year, but Lynch is not most players. He’s one of the best players in the league, and one of the most important players to the Seahawks. And now they have him back.

UPDATE 5:00 p.m. ET:  PFT has learned that the deal is not yet done.  But it’s expected to be, soon.

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Bengals plan visit with A.J. Hawk for next week

A.J. Hawk AP

The Bengals re-signed Rey Maualuga on Friday, but they may not be done making moves at linebacker.

Geoff Hobson of the team’s website reports that the Bengals plan to bring A.J. Hawk in for a visit next week “as they rate veteran linebacker depth” in free agency. Hawk was released by the Packers last week, although Green Bay is reportedly open to a return at the right price.

With Emmanuel Lamur tendered at the second-round level, the interest in Hawk could be a hedge against anything less than a full return from Vontaze Burfict next season. Burfict had an injury-riddled 2014 season with a pair of concussions followed by a pair of knee surgeries, including a microfracture procedure that could delay his return to the practice field if not the lineup for the regular season.

Given the way Hobson framed the visit, Hawk likely won’t be the only linebacker under consideration for a job in Cincinnati once the market is flooded with free agents.

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Colts want to bring Trent Cole in if he leaves Tampa

Trent Cole AP

The Buccaneers were quick to show interest in former Eagles pass-rusher Trent Cole.

But they’re far from his only suitor.

Via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, the Colts want to bring Cole in for a visit if he leaves Tampa today without a deal.

The Colts have cap room to make moves, and need to add pass-rushers in the worst way, though Cole has been better as a 4-3 end than as a stand-up outside linebacker in a 3-4.

Of course, the Bucs also have the opportunity to keep him from making that trip, if they throw enough money his way.

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Raiders staying in Oakland . . . for a year

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Good news, Raiders fans in Oakland and the Bay Area. The team isn’t leaving.

Bad news, Raiders fans in Oakland and the Bay Area. They still might.

The Joint Powers Authority in Oakland has approved a one-year lease that will allow the Raiders to play at O.Co Coliseum, via NBCBayArea.com. The move was expected because the window for submitting a relocation application has come and gone. It was a given that the Raiders would remain in Oakland for one more year.

The question becomes what they’ll do in 2016. The Chargers and Raiders are collaborating on a stadium they would share in Carson, California.

The powers-that-be in Carson and Inglewood currently are racing for the ability to build an NFL stadium in the L.A. area. The Chargers, Raiders, and Rams hope to be the two teams that end up there.

At least one of those teams will be the odd man out. If it’s the Raiders, they may be stuck in Oakland for a lot longer than 2015.

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Tyvon Branch scheduled for visit with Chiefs

Tyvon Branch, Benson Mayowa AP

The Chiefs saw a lot of safety Tyvon Branch when he played for the Raiders and they may be interested in seeing a lot more of him during the 2015 season.

Branch has visited with the Colts and Redskins since being released by Oakland and Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports reports that he’s scheduled to visit with the Chiefs next. With Eric Berry’s future uncertain as he continues his battle with lymphoma and Ron Parker set for free agency, the Chiefs could use some help at the position.

When he’s healthy, Branch was a good safety for the Raiders and he was particularly strong against the run. That was a weak spot for the Chiefs last season, so Branch fits on that front as well.

The major caveat is that he’s played just five games in the last two years. Whoever signs him will be rolling the dice that he hasnt lost anything while on the sideline and that it won’t be more of the same in 2015, so it’s not too surprising that the teams showing the most interest right off the bat are squads with serious needs at the position.

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It’s good to be King Dunlap

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Two weeks ago, veteran left tackle King Dunlap opted to eschew a shot at the open market and to stay in San Diego.

Even if the Chargers won’t be staying in San Diego.

Dunlap joined Friday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio to discuss his decision to sign a four-year deal, whether he has splurged yet with his new money, whether the potential move to L.A. by the team is a distraction, whether his quarterback gets enough credit, what he’d do if he were the team’s G.M. on Tuesday, whether he hoped Peyton Manning wouldn’t return to Denver, whether he hopes Justin Houston won’t return to Kanas City, and the toughest guy to block.

For the whole segment, click the thing in the thing below.

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Tarvaris Jackson would like to back up Teddy Bridgewater

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Tarvaris Jackson spent the last two years backing up Russell Wilson in Seattle and he thinks that experience would serve him well in a return to the Vikings.

Minnesota traded Matt Cassel to Buffalo this week and Christian Ponder is set to become a free agent on Tuesday, leaving the team without a backup for Teddy Bridgewater for the 2015 season. Jackson said while he still aspires to be a starting quarterback in the league, he would “definitely love to come back” to the place where he started his NFL career.

“I think I could really help [Bridgewater],” Jackson said, via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “I think I could help put things in perspective for him with football and outside of football. … I feel I can help him just making the game a little easier and kind of learning from my mistakes and stuff.”

Offensive coordinator Norv Turner said after Cassel was traded that the team had a plan in mind for securing a backup to Bridgewater, although he didn’t elaborate on that plan. Jackson will join veterans like Mark Sanchez, Shaun Hill and Matt Moore as free agents, although some of them may be less willing to sign up for a role with little chance of starting absent a serious injury.

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Lions tender George Johnson as restricted free agent

Drew Stanton, George Johnson AP

The Lions have made contract offers to a pair of their free agents.

According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Detroit has tendered a contract to defensive end George Johnson, a restricted free agent.

Johnson has been given a right-of-first-refusal tender, which entails a one-year contract offer for about $1.54 million, per the Free Press. Teams can negotiate with Johnson until he signs his tender, but the Lions can match any offer extended by another club.

The 27-year-old Johnson became an important part of the Lions’ defensive line rotation in 2014, notching a career-best six sacks.

The Lions have also offered a contract to exclusive-rights free agent returner/wide receiver Jeremy Ross, the club’s website said. Ross, 26, caught 24 passes for 314 yards and one TD in 2014 for Detroit. He averaged 25.4 yards on 23 kickoff returns and 8.9 yards on 32 punt returns.

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Chiefs re-sign Josh Mauga

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The Chiefs released linebacker Joe Mays this week, but they’ve secured the rights to another member of the position group with the same initials for the next three years.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the team has re-signed Josh Mauga to a three-year deal worth $8 million. There’s no word on signing bonus or guarantees in the deal.

Mauga started all 16 games for the Chiefs last season after signing with the team in July. He had 103 tackles, a half-sack and three passes defensed  in his first year with a Kansas City defense that struggled to stop the run. Mauga played 29 games for the Jets between 2010 and 2012 before spending the entire 2013 season on injured reserve.

With Mays gone, the Chiefs now have Mauga, Derrick Johnson and James-Michael Johnson at inside linebacker. Derrick Johnson missed 15 games last season after tearing his Achilles, but should return to a starting spot if he’s healthy. Mauga will likely be in the mix to start alongside him.

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Panthers fill left tackle void with Michael Oher

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Based on the way he played for the Titans, left tackle Michael Oher wouldn’t have been an upgrade for many teams.

Fortunately for Oher, the Panthers were there for him.

The Panthers announced they signed the former Ravens first-rounder to a two-year deal.

He’ll replace the replaceable Byron Bell at left tackle for the short term, and there are reasons to think it might work. Back when Oher appeared to be good at football, he was being coached by John Matsko, who’s now coaching the Panthers linemen.

And, he’s going to a place where expectations have been lowered by the shoddy line they put in front of Cam Newton last year.

“I’m excited to be joining an organization that knows how to win. They’ve won the past two division championships, and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Oher said. “When I came here on a visit, the culture was great. They’re very into winning and doing everything possible to win.”

Signing Oher keeps them from reaching for a left tackle in the draft, and crosses a box off for the short term, though there are no illusions he’s going to be a Pro Bowl-level player.

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Browns hold onto Spencer Lanning, Shaun Draughn

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Not every roster move in the next few weeks will be a splashy one, as evidenced by a pair of signings the Browns announced on Friday.

The team announced that they have re-signed running back Shaun Draughn and punter Spencer Lanning. Both players were exclusive rights free agents, so the ball was in the Browns’ court and they opted to hold onto both players.

Draughn joined the Browns for the final four games of the 2014 season and played mostly on special teams. He returned five kickoffs for 115 yards and made a tackle in kick coverage. Draughn saw time with the Chargers and Bears last season as well and has also played for the Chiefs and Ravens while bouncing around the NFL.

Lanning has been the punter in Cleveland for the last two seasons. In 2014, he averaged 44.3 yards per punt and dropped 25-of-93 kicks inside the 20-yard line. He also took a foot to the face from Steelers punt returner Antonio Brown during a September game, although the Browns punt coverage typically didn’t put him in position to make tackles while limiting opponents to seven yards a return.

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Report: Chargers release LB Reggie Walker

Andrew Luck, Reggie Walker AP

The Chargers are letting go of one of their backups on defense.

Inside linebacker Reggie Walker has been released, Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Friday.

Walker was scheduled to make $1 million in 2015, per NFLPA data. According to the Union-Tribune, the release of Walker nets the Chargers a corresponding savings of $1 million against the salary cap.

The 28-year-old Walker appeared in 11 games as a reserve in 2014 for San Diego, with the club crediting him with six tackles on defense and five on special teams.

Walker (6-0, 244) played his first four NFL seasons with Arizona before joining the Chargers in 2013. He could appeal to teams looking for linebacking depth in 3-4 schemes.

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Chiefs cut defensive tackle Vance Walker

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Just because a team makes an early move last year for you doesn’t mean you’re a priority.

The Chiefs are releasing defensive tackle Vance Walker, according to his agent Chad Speck.

The move clears $1.75 million off the cap, and erases a bad deal from a year ago.

The Chiefs signed Walker away from the Raiders on a three-year deal which was reported to be worth up to $13 million.

But it didn’t take long for them to regret it, as he started just two games last year. He’s a solid enough player, but hardly worth what the Chiefs invested a year ago.

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Jets re-sign David Harris to three-year deal

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The Jets aren’t waiting until free agency to start filling up their cap space.

PFT has learned, via a league source, that the team has re-signed linebacker David Harris to a three-year deal worth a total of $21.5 million. Harris got the first two years of the deal fully guaranteed at $15 million.

The move comes shortly after the team swung a trade with the Bears for wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who is set to make $7.7 million during the 2015 season.

Harris has spent his entire eight-year career with the Jets since they took the Michigan product in the second round of the 2007 draft. There had been a fair amount of speculation that Harris might follow former Jets coach Rex Ryan to Buffalo once free agency opened, but he obviously felt that the Jets’ offer satisfied his needs. He should continue to be a centerpiece of their defense under new coach Todd Bowles and defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers.

The Jets still have a lot of money to spend and should get $10.5 million more by moving on from Percy Harvin, who is expected to be released after the acquisition of Marshall.

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