The Oakland Raiders are legitimate contenders to win the Super Bowl next season. They could have made it far last season but quarterback Derek Carr got injured before the playoffs. The Raiders are very interested in signing Carr to an extension, as well as right guard Gabe Jackson.
In an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio (h/t Sporting News) on Wednesday, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie is focused on giving contracts to Carr and Jackson after establishing themselves as the two best players on offense last season. Both players are entering the final year of their rookie deals.
"We'll be starting those conversations. We got this draft over with. Now, we will be pursuing Derek shortly. We're always trying to make sure we keep our good players. We targeted Derek from the outset. We're going to try and get talking to him and also Gabe," McKenzie said.
Derek Carr had his best season last year and he was among the favorites to win the NFL MVP Award. He led the Raiders to a 12-3 record before suffering a broken fibula in the final game of the regular season against the Indianapolis Colts. He threw for a total of 3,937 yards with 28 touchdowns and only six interceptions.
The 26-year-old quarterback did all of that with an already injured finger and he pulled through until getting injured against the Colts. In an interview with USA Today, Carr noted that he is coming back strong next season.
"Injuries happen, but it makes me hungrier to come back and be better. No matter what happens on or off the field with my teammates, I know I have God's trust and Love. I try to send that same message to my teammates that we are in this together no matter what happens," Carr said.
The Pro-Bowl quarterback is among the five best in the league, which means he could be in for a big contract. The Raiders are looking for a discount but it seems Carr is due to make around $24 million per season in his new deal.
On the other hand, Gabe Jackson was instrumental in leading the Raiders to the fewest sacks allowed in the NFL this season with 18. The Raiders also had the league's sixth-best ranked rushing attack last season with an average of 120.1 yards.
Jackson is due for a significant raise for his new deal. He is only getting paid $2 million last season but his extension could be worth $8.5 million per year. It would almost be the same amount of money the Cleveland Browns gave to offensive guard Joel Bitonio.
Another potential move for the Raiders this offseason besides contract extensions for Derek Carr and Gabe Jackson is the addition of middle linebackers. Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio noted in an interview that the team needs to find a linebacker in the market whether via trade or free agency.
"I don't know that we've adequately addressed our middle linebacker position, to be honest. I think we have some work to do there. The rest of our roster is pretty well situated, but we'll be looking for a linebacker and we'll continue to look, whether it's the waiver wire, trades or available guys out there, veterans on the street. We'll continue to look," Del Rio said, via CSN Bay Area.
The Raiders have plenty of options including Perry Riley, who played in Oakland last season. He started 11 games at middle linebacker and he remains unsigned in free agency. Other linebackers available in the open market are Jelani Jenkins, Cory James and Ben Heeney. The Raiders' roster is almost complete and they just have to remain relatively healthy to reach their first Super Bowl since 2002.