Las Vegas Raiders headline offseason NFL news
The dismissal of head coach Jon Gruden during the 2021 season ended with the Las Vegas Raiders making a trip to the postseason. Now, the team has offensive guru Josh McDaniels as head coach, and they've become a trendy pick to make their second consecutive postseason for the first time in 20 years. The Raiders are currently paying 16-1, or +1600, to win the AFC, according to NFL odds.
Las Vegas does seem like they came out on the other end of the Gruden controversy smelling quite sweet. For the NFL, however, it's a different story. Gruden sued the NFL, claiming the league and commissioner Roger Goodell set out to destroy his career and reputation.
The first round of legal proceedings went to Gruden, as he won a pair of very important rulings in front of Nevada Judicial District Court Judge Nancy Allf.
First, the NFL asked that the case be moved to a sealed-arbitration process. Judge Allf refused, meaning that proceedings will continue in open court, where the NFL has far less control over what secrets are revealed.
The second motion before Judge Allf was a dismissal of the lawsuit, with the NFL calling it “entirely meritless.” Judge Allf did not agree with the NFL, and denied the motion. The case will go on and, according to her, should go on, based on the evidence that has been presented.
There’s two options for the next phase. There will be a scheduled hearing with the two parties and Judge Allf to determine the pretrial process, which will include discovery being made available to both sides. However, the NFL could begin settlement talks with Gruden in the hopes it can avoid trial.
Raiders and Darren Waller Working on Extension
Even as the legal wranglings with ex-head coach Jon Gruden take the headlines, the Raiders continue the business of improving their football team. There's few better ways to make that happen than making sure star tight end Darren Waller is a happy Raider for as long as possible.
According to Waller, "My agent is working [on an extension]. I understand it, but I know if I focus on it too much, it could take away from my job and learning a new system and just continuing to try to elevate and take care of my body in the right way. I try to focus on those things and let my agent handle that."
Waller is scheduled to make $7 million in 2022, and his current contract has no more guaranteed money attached to it.
It's one thing for Waller to make less money than George Kittle and Travis Kelce, which he does. However, the Browns just gave David Njoku $28 million guaranteed, and he had 55 catches for 688 yards combined over the last two seasons. Over those very same two years, Waller has 162 catches for 1,861 yards, in two fewer games.
Baker Mayfield May Be Stuck in Cleveland
While no one thinks Baker Mayfield will see the field for the Browns in 2022, there's a growing possibility Mayfield will be stuck in Cleveland for another season.
The Browns are desperate to trade Mayfield, now that they have Deshaun Watson. However, other teams are only willing to trade with the Browns if Cleveland pays a large portion of the contract. That's less likely, making the Mayfield potential suitors lose interest.
The Browns could just release Mayfield, making him a free agent, but reports say the Browns are unwilling to negotiate a release with him and his agent. Why a negotiation is needed is that all $18.5 million of Mayfield’s contract is guaranteed. So, a release saves the Browns nothing against the cap or cash payments to their once-franchise quarterback.
The limbo for all sides remains. Mayfield doesn't have a job, even though he officially has a contract. Cleveland doesn't have the cap savings they so desperately desire. Since Cleveland wants a trade partner to absorb as much as $13 million of Mayfield's salary, there are teams out there who will start a lesser player at quarterback in 2022.
According to NFL odds, the Browns are currently paying +200 to win the AFC North, same as the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals.