Cowboys’ Rico Gathers: I’m going to be next best TE

Dallas Cowboys tight end Rico Gathers hasn’t played a regular-season game in two professional seasons, yet he’s confident Year 3 will mark his breakout.

The 24-year-old posted a message on Instagram over the weekend stating his goals for 2018 and beyond.

“Facts is facts,” Gathers wrote. “It’s only the beginning. Truth is I’m Ready for more. Been ready for more. The dilemma of me not being ready is over. I got a piece of it last year and it felt so good doing it, y’all will never understand that feeling. It was like the most epic scene of movie before the power goes out in ya house for a few hours and you forget all about what you was watching. I watched those two games the other day and I told myself “Ima be the next best tight end in this league” and I believe that with all my heart. lol y’all continue to hate while I continue to shine I love y’all, y’all make me better. God Knows my heart and that’s all that counts to me. #Blessed #HumbleandHungry #LemmeEat #IWantTheWholePieThisTime #NewSZNSameRZN #killeverything”

Those two games Gathers referred to were last year’s preseason tilts in which he compiled seven catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns, looking every bit the athletic freak that got him drafted despite not playing football in college. However, Gathers suffered a concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit during training camp and was eventually placed on injured reserve, ending his season.

The tight end spent his rookie season on the Cowboys’ practice squad after being drafted in the sixth round.

The younger Jones continued to express hesitation in bringing Bryant back at a $12.5 million base salary Thursday night when the attended the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award ceremony.

“No one wants to compete and get after it more than Dez,” Jones said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “At the same time, we all know this is a business where everybody has to be accountable. Certainly everybody knows that. That’s a tough one. Certainly we’re going to be grinding it out and trying to determine what is in the best interest of our business.

“Dez understands this is a business. No one thinks more of Dez Bryant than starting at the top, Jerry, and certainly me, his teammates, coach [Jason] Garrett, Will McClay. We all have a tremendous amount of respect for Dez. That’s one of the things that we’re going to have to work through as we move into our future.”

The Cowboys would have an easy time swallowing Bryant’s $16.5 million salary-cap hit if he’d played like a dominant No. 1 receiver in recent years. He hasn’t.

The 29-year-old wide receiver hasn’t reached the 900-yard barrier (let alone 1,000) since 2014. Since signing his new contract in 2015, Bryant is averaging 53.55 yards per game played (2,035 total yards in 38 games). For comparison, the NFL’s top wideout, Antonio Brown, has almost double that average over the same span: 103.35 yards per tilt (4,651 yards in 45 games). Even a 34-year-old Larry Fitzgerald has made Dez look old. Fitzy averaged 70.70 yards per game since 2015. (3,394 yards in 48 games). Bryant is closer (but still not better) than the production of Golden Tate, who has compiled 60.27 yards per game since 2015 (2,893 yards in 48 games) but makes way less money than the Cowboys’ star (Tate: $7 million in 2018; Bryant: $12.5 million).

Since his knee injury in 2016, Bryant hasn’t displayed the same type of explosiveness that could beat defenders one-on-one. As NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks wrote in September, Bryant’s lack of ability to separate from defensive backs in recent seasons, coupled with a limited route tree, has lowered his production significantly.

Players can sign the tender at any point after they are given the designation. Until the tender is signed, the team can rescind the franchise or transition tag — as we saw with Josh Norman two years ago. Once the sheet is signed, the player’s salary is guaranteed for that season. If a player does not sign the tender, they remain without a contract, and therefore are not subject to fine schedules for skipping offseason workouts (as we saw with Bell last summer).

Each team can only use one tag in a given year — they can’t designate both a franchise and transition player. A rescinded tender counts as a tag, meaning a team can’t designate one player, rescind it, and use a new tag on another player in the same year. A player can be tagged up to three times by his team, with a bump in pay each time.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported in December during the NFL’s league meeting that teams were given a 2018 salary cap projection of $174.2-178.1 million, according to a source. The franchise and transition tag numbers will be determined when the final salary cap number is officially set. The salary cap was $167 million in 2017.

Adam Gase: Dolphins’ Jay Cutler set to play Thursday

Jay Cutler looks set to make his Dolphins jersey debut this week.

Adam Gase: Dolphins’ Jay Cutler set to play Thursday

Coach Adam Gase told reporters Tuesday that the quarterback “looks like” he’s going to play in Thursday’s preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens jersey.

Cutler has been with Miami for a little over a week after coming out of a brief retirement.

The reunion between Gase and Cutler happened in large part because of the quarterback’s familiarity with the coach’s system stemming from their time together in Chicago. With Cutler getting up to speed re-learning the offense, it makes sense to give him some run this week to help work on his rapport with new teammates in a live setting.

How much time Cutler spends on the field remains to be seen. Even a few drives will give the Dolphins an indication of where he is with the offense and show the rest of us the status of his arm and authentic jerseys for sale after undergoing surgery that ended his 2016 campaign.

Here are the other injuries we’re monitoring on Friday:

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1. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton continues to rehab after offseason shoulder surgery. Friday, he took another big step. Newton threw to wide receivers during team drills for the first time since July 30 when trainers cut his day short due to fatigue. Friday, Newton threw passes for about 10 minutes during individual drills.

In other Panthers news, rookie running back Curtis Samuel told reporters he is being “cautious” with the hamstring injury initially suffered in minicamp, calling it a “minor strain.” Samuel has not been an active participant in practice since his conditioning test on the first day of camp, but has been catching passes from Newton off to the side.

2. Minnesota Vikings running back Bishop Sankey is done for the season after an MRI revealed he suffered a torn ACL in Thursday’s preseason tilt against the Buffalo Bills, a source informed of the injury told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. Sankey was hoping to find a role in Minnesota after spending two seasons in Tennessee, but the knee injury will hold his¬†NFL football jerseys cheap out of the entire 2017 season.

3. Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin is fine after teammate K.J. Wright fell on his leg, coach Pete Carroll said, per the Seattle Times. Baldwin won’t play Sunday, though the injury isn’t serious.

4. Trent Murphy was slated to miss the first four games while suspended for violating the NFL’s PED policy. Now he’ll miss the entire season.

The Washington Redskins pass rusher suffered a torn ACL in Thursday’s preseason opener, Rapoport and NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported. Murphy has previously missed just one game in his previous three seasons. He is coming off of a career-high nine-sack season.

5. The Detroit Lions saw the return of tight end Eric Ebron jersey and offensive tackle Ricky Wagner to practice. Ebron hasn’t practiced since the first day of camp when he strained his hamstring. The starting tight end will not play in Detroit’s exhibition in Indianapolis on Sunday, but should see game action going forward. Wagner left practice with an undisclosed injury Thursday.

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NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday that Cutler is Miami’s top choice if the team decides to add a veteran to compete with Matt Moore, who took over first-team duties after Tannehill’s injury.

“We’ve had a lot of people call us, we’ve talked to a few people,” Gase said. “We’re keeping all our options on the table. A lot of the things that are out there aren’t really what we’re doing. It’s kind of funny to watch jersey for cheap.”

Cutler enjoyed his most efficient season in 2015 when Gase was the offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears jersey. The veteran signal-caller’s familiarity with the system could help make the quick transition easier if the sides eventually agree to a deal.

Gase said Saturday that Cutler made no demands on starting if he joins Miami.

The Dolphins continue to ponder whether Tannehill will undergo surgery that would end his season. Adding Cutler would likely hinge on that decision and how comfortable the team is with Moore as its year-long starter. Moore reportedly had an up-and-down day in Saturday’s scrimmage.

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Terrelle Pryor’s fantasy stock rises by joining Redskins

Terrelle Pryor was a big question mark in this free agency pool, as we wondered if teams would be willing to sign the converted quarterback to a longterm deal after a single (albeit breakout) season as a wide receiver. Instead, it appears Pryro is betting on himself by signing a one-year deal with the Washington Redskins, reportedly turning down a longer-term contract with the Browns. With DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon already out of the picture in Washington, Pryor will have big shoes to fill as one of the top pass-catchers in a pass-happy offense.

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Walking out the doors of FedExField with Jackson and Garcon are also 214 targets, roughly 35 percent of Kirk Cousins’ attempted passes in 2016. Pryor saw 140 looks last season, bringing in 77 for 1,007 yards and four scores, so volume shouldn’t be an issue in his new home. As a size-speed freak, Pryor should help replace the downfield element lost with Jackson, while simultaneously improving the team’s struggles in the red zone. With Jamison Crowder primarily playing in the slot and last year’s first-round pick Josh Doctson still a health question mark, Pryor should start Week 1 as the No. 1 option for a passing attack that put up 9,189 yards and 55 touchdowns over the last two years.

Now, there are some concerns we should address with Pryor that could trickle into the fantasy realm. First, Pryor has only done it for one year. Now, I’m usually not one to fall down this skeptic line of thinking, but Pryor’s situation as a converted quarterback is unique. We should be sure to study his cheap jerseys and tape in the preseason to make sure teams haven’t figured him out, though that could be moot given Pryor’s immense athletic gifts.

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This is not to say I personally support the ostentatiously designed duds. After all, they are the first uniforms in NFL history to wipe out an entire segment of their viewing audience simply by existing. That is an unquestionable design flaw.

That said, they do get people talking, and I suppose the shadowy league figures on Park Avenue take solace in that, even if many of the jerseys for sale and reviews have been less than flattering.

The Washington Redskins — no stranger to uniform controversy — don’t care. Tucked into a large group of potential rule change proposals released by the league on Thursday is a proposal by wholesale jerseys the ‘Skins to opt out of Color Rush forever. Forget that the team has never had to actually play in a game wearing Color Rush threads (at least not yet). Their one-word explanation for the rule change is a perfect example how sometimes one thousands words are unnecessary when one can just as effectively drop the hammer.

While Cousins’ explanation leaves room for semantical gymnastics, Mike Jones of the Washington Post wrote Tuesday that he has been unable to find a single source to confirm a trade demand by the quarterback.

If that’s the case, it’s natural to wonder if the ostensibly strained relationship might be repairable after all.

After speaking with Snyder and Redskins president Bruce Allen, Cousins was reassured of his standing with the organization’s braintrust.

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“I felt very much supported,” Cousins continued, “and felt the owner and president of the team want me to be the quarterback there and to be the quarterback there for a long time.”

Nike Redskins #21 Sean Taylor Burgundy Red Team Color Men's Stitched NFL Vapor Untouchable Limited JerseyThe 2016 Pro Bowler’s rare leverage via the mechanism of back-to-back franchise tags leaves his long-term future up in the air. It would cost the Redskins a seemingly prohibitive $34.5 million to apply the franchise tag a third time, leaving the riskier $28 million transition tag in play next offseason.

Cousins’ camp understandably insists on negotiating from the starting point of his $23.94 million salary for 2017. To this point, though, the team’s best offer was $20 million annually with “low guarantees,” ESPN.com’s John Keim reported.

If the sides can’t find common ground in the next month, would the Redskins simply draft his replacement and allow him to walk as an unrestricted free agent in 2018? Cousins isn’t banking on gaining his chinese jerseys freedom next offseason.

“If a team has franchise tagged me two years in a row, it’s because they expect me to play at a high level,” Cousins said. “If we play at a very high level and if we win a Super Bowl next year, I’m pretty confident they’ll tag me and bring me back. If the season goes the way everyone wants it to and hopes it will, then let’s hope I’m getting tagged again. There’s still more of this story to write.”

Barring a new contract to beat the July 15 deadline for players assigned the franchise designation, it’s a story we’ll continue to write throughout the the 2017 season.

Steve Smith: Brandon Marshall a ‘good fit’ for Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens are short a veteran presence outside the numbers, but their second-leading receiver from 2016 knows who can fill his shoes.

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Retired receiver Steve Smith, now spending his days dropping glorious one-liners during NFL Network’s combine coverage, mused Friday on Baltimore’s shoddy receiver depth, suggesting that impending free agent Brandon Marshall jersey should be a target for the team.

“I think (Marshall) would be a good fit,” Smith told the Ravens’ website. “Actually, me and B. Marshall talked last week and he kind of gave me a heads up on some things.

“I think he would be a great fit because he’s a playmaker. At the end of the day, you need playmakers. You need a lot of horses in the stable and you can never have too many playmakers on cheap nfl jerseys one team or one side of the ball.”

Set to be released by Jets this week, Marshall has made it clear that his next destination will have to be in contention for a Super Bowl. Baltimore was one Antonio Brown touchdown away from winning the AFC North last season and should be more than competitive in the division again.

Marshall might also be intrigued by the leadership of John Harbaugh jersey and the veteran presence of Joe Flacco, a consistent, if not elite quarterback.

Baltimore made a splash by luring former Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson away from two suitors — the Jets and Browns — who offered significantly more cash.

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The Ravens then added versatile running back Danny Woodhead before re-signing their own big piece of the puzzle, mammoth nose tackle Brandon Williams, to a five-year, $54 million contract. When that deal went down, the defensive lineman loomed as the top free-agent prize remaining on the open market.

Jefferson’s story says plenty about the Ravens. Instead of cashing in with a rebuilding club, he took less coin to play for an ultra-consistent organization run by Newsome and coach John Harbaugh and stocked with accomplished veterans like fellow safety Eric Weddle jersey, who called up Jefferson and lobbied him to sign with the Ravens jersey.

Baltimore could use more help at cornerback and linebacker and Newsome noted the front office is “still looking to do some other things at receiver and maybe offensive line.”

Amid whispers the team is eyeing former Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne, Newsome said: “We still have the opportunity in free agency to address (the secondary), and then we’ll be looking forward to the draft.”

NFL Network’s Steve Smith first reported the development.

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Nike Ravens #52 Ray Lewis Lights Out Black Super Bowl XLVII Men's Stitched NFL Elite Jersey“Elvis Dumervil has been a leader for us on and off the field,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement. “He has made a positive impression on our franchise and authentic jerseys wholesale, and we have been fortunate to have him as a Raven. We respect his professionalism and the way he plays the game, in addition to his extensive charitable efforts that have greatly impacted our Baltimore community and his parents’ native country of Haiti.

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Battling a foot injury for the first two months of the season, Dumervil recorded just three sacks in eight games last year. After racking up an impressive 26.5 QB takedowns in his first two years with the Ravens, he managed just nine in 24 games over the past two.

A five-time Pro Bowler averaging nearly 12 sacks per year from 2007 through 2014, Dumervil’s days as a starter are likely over at age 33. If he stays healthy, though, perhaps he can carve out a valuable role as a situational pass rusher along the lines of DeMarcus Ware or Dwight Freeney.

With bookend outside linebacker Terrell Suggs entering his age-35 season, the Ravens will have to address the position in free agency or early in the draft.

Lions pick Wentz late, hand Eagles first loss of year

After jettisoning Joique Bell this offseason, the Detroit Lions have been in the market to add a between-the-tackles veteran running back.

On Tuesday, they took Stevan Ridley for a test drive, a source told NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

The running back disappointed last season with the New York Jets, gaining only 90 yards on 36 carries (2.5 yards per attempt). He missed the team’s first eight games while recovering from an ACL injury, which affected his 2015 performance. Rapoport added Ridley should be 100 percent at this stage of his recovery.

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Ridley’s best season came in 2012 when he earned 1,263 yards on 290 carries and 12 rushing touchdowns with the Patriots. Lions new general manager Bob Quinn, who spent his entire career in New England, knows Ridley well. If healthy, Ridley could add a veteran presence behind second-year pro Ameer Abdullah jersey and pass-catching back Theo Riddick.

1. Big Play Slay lived up to his moniker Sunday. Darius Slay forced a Ryan Mathews fumble with 2:41 remaining, which the Lions recovered, leading to the go-ahead field goal. Slay then intercepted a Carson Wentz heave on the next Eagles play from scrimmage to seal the win. Philadelphia avoided Slay most of the day, and instead picked on weaker Lions defensive backs. When the Eagles went his way late, the corner made them pay. Slay signed a big-money contract extension with cheap jerseys this offseason to little fanfare outside of Detroit. He’ll get nationwide attention after winning and sealing the game for the Lions.

2. Wentz threw the first interception of his career on his 135th pass of the season to quickly stifle any last-minute comeback. The rookie quarterback played sublime otherwise. Wentz picked apart a banged-up Detroit defense in the final three quarters with precision passes, heady rollouts, timely runs and great line calls. Too much is made of Wentz dinking-and-dunking. That’s the offense Doug Pederson calls. When asked to throw down the field Wentz displayed pin-point accuracy — his ball placement on a 28-yard back-shoulder throw to Jordan Matthews jersey late in the first half was Pro Bowl caliber. Wentz led the Eagles back from a 14-0 deficit to start the game. If the Eagles’ defense wasn’t so sleepy in the first quarter, it would have been a different outcome.

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3. It was a tale of two halves for Jim Schwartz’s defense. The Eagles looked sluggish out of the gate. Matthew Stafford carved them up with quick passes on three straight touchdown drives of 11 plays, 9 plays and 12 plays to open the game. Philadelphia could not cover or tackle running back Theo Riddick (two TD catches) in the first half. Jim Bob Cooter used a plethora of misdirection early to gash Schwartz defense.

Nike Lions #23 Darius Slay JR Black Men's Stitched NFL Limited Rush JerseyNigel Bradham played sparingly in the first half — Pederson said after the game the linebacker wasn’t punished for his bye-week arrest. In the second half, Bradham was all over the field, including three tackles for loss. The Eagles’ front dominated the second half, sacking Stafford three times — Fletcher Cox (1 sack) clown-suited Detroit blockers several times. After giving up 17 first downs in the first half, the Lions got just three in the second two quarters. It was just enough.

4. Golden Tate made up for his awful start to the season with a huge 27-yard catch-and-run on third-and-4 to set up the game-winning score. Jim Bob Cooter utilized Tate in the run-game early and wanted the receiver more involved in the offense after he’d been a ghost the first four games of the season.

5. The Eagles rotated Mathews and Darren Sproles in the backfield. Mathews took the majority of totes (11 for 42 yards; 3.8 average), but Sproles was the most efficient runner (5 for 45). Mathews made a crucial mistake, carrying the ball in his inside arm on the fumble (the Eagles’ first turnover of the season). A veteran should know better.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that the Detroit Lions will host Clausen for a work out on Monday, per a source informed of the situation.

Clausen started three games in 2015, one with the Bears and two with the Ravens authentic jerseys. He owns a 54 percent completion rate for his career with seven touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

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The 28-year-old signal-caller hasn’t been considered a viable starter since his wayward rookie season with the Panthers in 2010. Still, he could find work as a competent backup who can run an offense in a pinch.

Per Rapoport, Clausen also worked out for the Washington Redskins last week.

With Abdullah on the shelf, the Lions will turn to Theo Riddick as the starter in the short term. Riddick is the NFL’s premier pass-catching running back, but not a player who is going to churn up yards between the tackles. His usage on running plays might increase slightly in the coming games, but giving a back like Riddick a ton of carries is going to land him on the injured list and wholesale nfl jerseys, too.

The door now opens for rookie Dwayne Washington jersey to take on a much bigger role. The 6-foot-1, 223-pound back impressed in the preseason. He was already tabbed as the Lions’ short-yardage and goal line back. He should get more carries between the 20s with Abdullah gone (everyone rush to your fantasy football waiver wire!!!). Zach Zenner also likely will see his first action of the regular season after two healthy scratches.

The Abdullah-Riddick combination looked unstoppable in Week 1. Now Jim Bob Cooter will have to adjust his offense to compensate for half that tandem missing at least half the season.

To replace Abdullah on the active roster, the Lions signed wide receiver Aaron Dobson, who most recently spent time with the Patriots. Lions general manager and former Patriots director of pro scouting Bob Quinn drafted Dobson to New England in the second round of the 2013 draft.

Adelson hints he could withdraw support for Las Vegas stadium

The casino magnate who has been instrumental in pledging funds necessary for construction of a proposed NFL stadium in Las Vegas said he might drop his support of the project if terms offered by the Oakland Raiders jerseys do not improve.

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson hinted at possible discord with the Raiders over their potential plans in regard to the stadium project aimed at luring the team to the city, according to Reuters.

“I negotiated to bring in the Oakland Raiders, an NFL football team from Oakland, because they don’t have a stadium there, that I would build a stadium and rent it out to the Oakland Raiders,” Adelson said Wednesday while in Tel Aviv to attend a technology conference.

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“(The Raiders) want so much,” Adelson continued. “So I told my people, ‘Tell them I could live with the deal, I could live without the deal. Here’s the way it’s gonna go down. If they don’t want it, bye-bye.'”

A representative for Adelson downplayed the comments Thursday, saying Adelson “is not even close” to potentially walking away from the proposed project.

“It’s a non-story,” Andy Abboud told KSNV-TV in Las Vegas. “Everything is moving along very well.”

Adelson’s comments come 10 days after Nevada governor Brian Sandoval signed a bill that approved public financing for the $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium project. Adelson, chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp., has pledged $650 million toward the building of the stadium. The rest of the financing would come from a public hotel tax, the Raiders and the NFL.

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Last week, Raiders owner Mark Davis made a presentation about the project to NFL owners at the Fall League Meeting. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league still is looking into the project.

“There’s still a great deal of information that we need to gather with respect to the circumstances we see in Las Vegas, the opportunities and also the challenges. Those are the things we’ll look at through the committee, and report back to them maybe as early as December, but more likely later than that.”

The Oakland Raiders are 12th team to ink their 2016 first-round draft pick.

Safety Karl Joseph jersey signed a four-year deal Monday, according to the team’s official website. Though the terms of the deal were not immediately available, the pick in front of him — Dolphins offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil — signed a four-year deal worth $12.46 million last week. The way rookie deals are slotted, Joseph should be in that ballpark.

Draft signings often come in waves and right now, picks 10-20 are on a roll. Almost every player selected between that range is under contract, with wide receiver Corey Coleman (Browns), defensive end Shaq Lawson jersey (Bills) and linebacker Darron Lee (Jets) as the lone holdouts.

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Nike Raiders #28 Latavius Murray Gray Men's Stitched NFL Limited Gridiron Gray JerseyAccording to the San Jose Mercury News, Joseph saw the Raiders’ facilities for the first time Monday. The team opted not to host him on a pre-draft visit and, because he was visiting friends and family in Haiti on draft day, the Raiders allowed him to stay a bit longer.

Joseph, who has been drawing early comparisons to 49ers legend Ronnie Lott, will wear No. 42 in Oakland. That does not seem like an accident.

The arrival of Smith also gives the Raiders a veteran defender in their secondary. This is a team that ranked 26th in the NFL in pass defense last season and also just lost Pro Bowl safety Charles Woodson to retirement. At 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, Smith brings size and savvy to a position that was easily this team’s biggest need. If he can avoid the off-field issues that plagued him last year (he was suspended three games after pleading guilty to a DUI), he should vastly improve Oakland’s defensive backfield.

What’s quite apparent about McKenzie’s plan is that the Raiders are intent on adding difference makers. It didn’t take long to see the impact created by Carr, Cooper and Murray last season. Now, Oakland has added three more players with playoff experience, two of whom already have championship rings. Osemele was a starter on the Baltimore Ravens team’s jerseys that won Super Bowl XLVII, while Irvin helped the Seahawks dominate the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Speaking of Denver, it’s important to note here that Oakland is becoming more dangerous at a time when the AFC West is going to be up for grabs. It shouldn’t be lost on anybody that the Broncos have taken some huge offseason hits just a few weeks after winning Super Bowl 50. Along with losing key starters (including linebacker Danny Trevathan, defensive end Malik Jackson jersey and offensive guard Louis Vasquez), Denver also watched quarterback Peyton Manning jersey retire and backup Brock Osweiler sign a free-agent deal with Houston. For the first time in four years, the Broncos have serious concerns about the most critical position on any football team.

The optimists will tell you that Broncos general manager John Elway will resolve this problem because he’s already produced a stellar track record when it comes to running a football team. The realists will tell you something else — that a huge door just swung open for the Raiders. Keep in mind, Oakland beat the Broncos in Denver late last season, partly because Mack racked up five sacks in that 15-12 win. There is no reason for the Raiders to be intimidated about cheap jerseys and the prospects of facing a team that just won a championship.

If anything, everybody should be paying attention to what’s happening in Oakland. This is a team that has been irrelevant for years, one that has hired and fired plenty of coaches for more than a decade. Those days now feel like they’re becoming part of a much distant past, all because the first day of free agency just told us that the Raiders really are heading in the right direction.