Oakland Raiders Continue Building For Success Now And Into The Future

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 11: Gabe Jackson
OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 11: Gabe Jackson /

The Oakland Raiders have a core of some of the brightest young stars in the NFL – and they took another step toward keeping that core intact by locking down another one of their own.

It’s been a big week for the Oakland Raiders – a bigger week than this franchise has had in quite some time. Not only did they lock up franchise quarterback Derek Carr with a record $125 million dollar deal, they’ve now also completed a deal to keep one of the men charged with keeping Carr upright, for the long-term.

It’s been expected this offseason, given that his rookie deal is expiring, but the Raiders have now completed a monster extension with guard Gabe Jackson. The rough numbers are five years, $56 million dollars for the standout lineman.

The devil will be in the details, of course, but assuming the raw numbers being reported are accurate, Jackson’s deal – at an approximate value of $11.2 million per season – would make him the league’s third highest paid guard behind Cleveland’s Kevin Zeitler ($12 million/season) and teammate Kelechi Osemele ($11.7 million/season).

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It’s a wise investment for a former lightly regarded third round pick who has blossomed into one of the NFL’s most dominant guards.

The deal helps keep intact, a line that was one of the more powerful and dominant in the NFL last season. The biggest debate among many, was whose line was the most dominant – Dallas or Oakland’s. Given that the Raiders’ line allowed just 18 quarterback sacks – and Dallas gave up 28 – an argument could be made that Oakland had the edge.

The Raiders have heavily invested in their offensive line over the last few seasons. First, they poached center Rodney Hudson from rival Kansas City with a five year $44.5 million dollar deal – a deal that will keep him with Oakland through the 2019 season. Though, if he continues to be ranked as the league’s best pass-blocking center, it wouldn’t be hard to see GM Reggie McKenzie throwing out another extension.

Donald Penn is closer to the end of his career than he is the beginning, but he’s still powerful, effective, and a key piece on this Oakland line. He allowed just one sack last season – the timing of which, was incredibly unfortunate – but he’s still very clearly, one of the best tackles in the league.

He’s an unrestricted free agent after this season, but if he has a 2017 that mirrors his 2016, it’s conceivable he could be back for one more tour of duty in Silver and Black.

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What can you say about Kelechi Osemele that hasn’t already been said? He’s clearly, one of the most dominant offensive linemen in the NFL. His contract locks him into the Raiders until after the 2021 season.

If there is one weak link to Oakland’s massive wall of humanity, it’s the right tackle position. We won’t know who’s got the position locked down until after camp, but it could be anybody from Austin Howard (unlikely) to David Sharpe, to Vadal Alexander, to Marshall Newhouse.

Penn, Osemele, Hudson, and Jackson are the core of an incredibly physical, incredibly nasty offensive line. One that blows open holes in the running game and gives Carr stellar protection in the passing game.

Much of Oakland’s success can be attributed to the dominance of the offensive line. Without that sort of physical, dominant presence, Oakland’s offense might not be quite as effective. Which is why the Raiders prioritized building up that line.

And it’s a group that’s going to be together for the next few years – at least. McKenzie made sure of that by holding on to one of Oakland’s best young assets.