After the draft, the hard work begins for the Super Bowl contending Raiders: Find a way to sign quarterback Derek Carr to a long-term extension while still leaving some money in the pot for Khalil Mack and Gabe Jackson.
"He knows what we're trying to do in free agency, and he's never saying, 'I need to know now.' It's not like that," Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie told CSN Bay Area this week in Phoenix at the Annual League Meeting. "More likely, the serious talks will happen after the draft. The communication has been ongoing, just talking about the philosophy of a contract and the thought process around it. Hopefully when the serious talks start going, then it's going to be easier."
The quarterback, guard and edge rusher markets have not been cheap over the past two seasons (guard has especially skyrocketed thanks to Kevin Zeitler's deal this offseason) and all three of Oakland's home grown stars will challenge McKenzie in the coming months and years.
Carr, however, will come first.
Without the ability to give him a fifth-year option, the Raiders will need to lock him up long-term before his lame-duck 2017 season starts and the going rate for a franchise star these days is anywhere between $20-$24 million per season. Carr's agent wouldn't be doing his job if he accepted anything less. Further complicating matters is the fact that this deal will undoubtedly take Carr from California to Las Vegas. Will there be any financial hurdles associated with the move?
McKenzie deserves a gold star for future planning. Not only did he stock the cupboard in free agency over the previous two seasons, but he also allocated enough money to sign the financial equivalent of J.J. Watt, Aaron Rodgers and David DeCastro over the next two seasons. The negotiating table will not be kind here, with Mack likely asking for market-altering money and Jackson wanting to get paid like fellow Raider Kelechi Osemele, but there is no panic in Oakland (or Vegas) just yet.