NFL Notes: Gruden has full control of Raiders

The Sports Xchange

May 02, 2018 at 7:31 pm.

Jan 9, 2018; Alameda, CA, USA; Jon Gruden is introduced as head coach at a press conference at the Oakland Raiders headquarters Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 9, 2018; Alameda, CA, USA; Jon Gruden is introduced as head coach at a press conference at the Oakland Raiders headquarters Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Gruden’s official job title is that of head coach of the Oakland Raiders, but a published report has him wielding even more power than that.

Citing a team source, Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report wrote on Wednesday that Gruden has “effectively replaced” general manager Reggie McKenzie mere months after rejoining the franchise on a 10-year, $100 million contract.

While Gruden and McKenzie are on record as saying they are in agreement on personnel moves, Freeman said that it is the former who has made nearly all of those decisions since returning to the team.

–Free agent safety Eric Reid has followed in the footsteps of former teammate Colin Kaepernick in filing a collusion grievance against the NFL, multiple media outlets reported.

Mark Geragos, the attorney who represented Kaepernick in his case, filed the complaint on Wednesday morning.

Reid claimed at the beginning of the offseason that he wasn’t receiving interest from teams due to his decision to kneel during the national anthem. The 26-year-old was the first player to kneel alongside Kaepernick during the duo’s time with the San Francisco 49ers.

–Kickoffs will not disappear from NFL games in 2018, but they will look different.

A group of owners, head coaches, position coaches, medical people, an active player and a union official met in New York and came close to finalizing new kickoff rules.

The final draft is expected to be completed by the end of the week and presented to NFL teams for review on Monday. The owners will vote on the proposal later this month at their Spring League Meeting in Atlanta.

Under the proposed rules, there will be no running start or pre-kick motion by kickoff coverage teams and no wedge blocks by the return team.

In addition, there will be a 15-yard, non-contact zone from the spot of the kick, with the return team required to have a minimum of eight players lined up 15 yards from the ball.

–Linebacker Ryan Shazier was placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list by the Pittsburgh Steelers, which effectively ended Shazier’s chances to play 2018.

Shazier will not count against the team’s 90-man offseason roster.

The 25-year-old Shazier sustained a spinal injury against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13 last season and underwent spinal stabilization surgery on Dec. 6.

–General manager Mike Maccagnan of the New York Jets indicated that Sam Darnold, the No. 3 pick in last week’s NFL draft, will compete with incumbent Josh McCown for the starting quarterback job his season.

Maccagnan was appearing on the Rick Eisen Show on NFL Now and after an early discussion about the Jets’ plans for Darnold, Eisen asked point-blank if the former USC star would be given a chance to be the opening game starter.

“Nothing’s been predetermined one way or another,” Maccagnan said. “There’s a chance for anything on the table. Nothing’s been sort of set in stone in terms of how we’re going to do this in terms of a firm time frame.”

–The Denver Broncos will not pick up the option of linebacker Shane Ray, who was their first-round draft choice (No. 23 overall) out of Missouri in 2015, according to multiple media reports.

Brought in to eventually replace DeMarcus Ware, Ray collected four sacks as a rookie and eight in 2016, including three in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. However, he had only one sack last season as he battled a wrist injury and played in only eight games.

The Broncos weren’t willing to guarantee Ray $9.3 million for 2019.

–The New York Giants have added depth behind quarterback Eli Manning.

Journeyman backup Alex Tanney announced on Twitter that he is joining the Giants, who confirmed the move hours later.

Tanney, who was released by the Tennessee Titans this week, joins 2017 third-round pick Davis Webb and 2018 fourth-round selection Kyle Lauletta out of Richmond behind Manning, 37, on the depth chart.

The 30-year-old Tanney spent the 2017 season on injured reserve after breaking his left foot in the preseason finale.

–Sam Bradford reached out to fellow Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen before the first-round draft pick’s introductory press conference last week.

Bradford detailed in a text that he was willing to help Rosen with whatever needs, a nice gesture considering the latter is being groomed to take his job.

Rosen, who was the 10th overall pick in last week’s draft, joined his parents and agent in being driven toward his introductory press conference in Tempe (Ariz.) before receiving a text, according to the Cardinals’ “Flight Plan” series on the team’s website.

–Dallas Cowboys vice president of player personnel Will McClay told ESPN 103.3 FM that one of the reasons the team cut wide receiver Dez Bryant was his diminished ability to win one-on-one battles.

“It was a collective deal,” McClay said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “The (inability) to win one-on-one, to win downfield. There was inconsistency as well as some huge things in his play. So what’s best moving forward for Dez Bryant (and) the Cowboys, we just made that decision. It’s a production-based business.”

The 51-year-old McClay, who has been with the Cowboys organization since 2002, was handed his current title with the team last season.

–Broncos general manager John Elway told reporters that he still has faith in former first-round quarterback Paxton Lynch.

“We are not kicking him to the curb,” Elway said, via Mike Klis of KUSA in Denver. “He can still develop. When we drafted him two years ago, as I said, we knew it was going to take some time.”

Lynch finds himself behind offseason acquisition Case Keenum in the team’s pecking order. In fact, the 24-year-old Lynch is bidding to keep that distinction by holding off Chad Kelly — the final pick of the 2017 draft.

Keenum signed a two-year, $36 million contract with the Broncos in March.

–Ben Roethlisberger told reporters he was surprised that the Steelers traded Martavis Bryant to the Oakland Raiders during last week’s draft.

Bryant, who was traded to the Raiders for a third-round pick, had asked to be traded out of Pittsburgh in September only to change his mind. He recorded 50 receptions for 603 yards and three touchdowns last season and added a scoring catch in the team’s 45-42 playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

While the Steelers lost one receiver, they welcomed another in James Washington. The second-round pick joins Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster in providing weapons with which Roethlisberger can attack the defense.

–The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, who did not select a wide receiver in last week’s NFL draft, signed free agent wideout Markus Wheaton to a one-year contract, the team announced.

The 27-year-old Wheaton, a third-round pick of Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013, signed a two-year, $11-million contract with the Chicago Bears last year.

After undergoing shoulder surgery late in 2016, he had an appendectomy during training camp, a broken finger at the start of the season and a torn groin muscle in October.

Those setbacks led to him making only three receptions for 51 yards in 11 games for the Bears, who released him in March.

–The Tennessee Titans agreed to terms with safety Kendrick Lewis, the team announced.

Fellow safety Denzel Johnson was released to make a roster spot available for Lewis, who last played for the Baltimore Ravens in 2016 but took part in the Titans’ recent minicamp on a tryout basis.

Lewis has recorded 323 tackles, nine interceptions and eight forced fumbles while playing 89 career games with the Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Texans and Ravens. The 29-year-old was selected by the Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

Listed at 6-foot and 205 pounds, Lewis recorded a career high with 84 tackles while playing with the Texans in 2014.

–The Chicago Bears will not pick up the option of wide receiver Kevin White, the NFL Network reported, the deadline for exercising fifth-year options on 2015 first-round draft picks.

White has played in only five games in his Bears career because of injuries, which made it obvious that the team would not pay White a guaranteed $13.9 million for 2019 by picking up the option.

The 6-foot-3, 216-pound White, the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft out of West Virginia, has 21 receptions for 193 yards and no touchdowns during his career in Chicago.