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Austin Howard Has the Show the Oakland Raiders Something This Year

Franchise QB Derek Carr just signed his huge, well-deserved deal to stay with the Oakland Raiders. Since he’s a 2nd-round pick, and a franchise QB, he’s the first of the class of 2014 to do so. Khalil Mack, the team’s 1st-round EDGE and 2016 Defensive Player of the Year, had his rookie option picked up.

So 3rd-round OG Gabe Jackson, who has also performed well, will be next to get a big contract. The Raiders have to keep their $25 million man clean and Jackson has been a big part of doing that. The Raiders haven’t had any problems with the salary cap since GM Reggie McKenzie has cleaned house.

But this wave of contracts for the 2014 draft class will kill a lot of the extra money they’ve had. However, McKenzie planned for this, which is why the Raiders still have over $18 million in cap space. That’s enough for whatever they sign Jackson for and to get their draft class done so no worries there.

Plus Carr structured his deal so the Raiders will be able to fit Mack in after his option year next year. But once Mack is done, things may start to get tight and McKenzie likes to keep his draft picks. And the veterans he’s signed over the last few years have contracts he can easily get out of.

So those veterans will have to stay on full alert and play well in order to make themselves inexpendable. A few articles ago, we took a look at the possibilities of the Raiders cutting CB Sean Smith. He makes $10 million a year, a salary of a lock-down CB, and he got charbroiled last year.

He has to play the way he did when he was with the Kansas City Chiefs this year to stick around. Another player that has to perform this year for the Silver and Black is right OT Austin Howard. He didn’t play so well last year after having a solid 2015 due to a few injuries that he sustained.

One of those injuries is a torn labrum that caused him to miss the whole offseason because of surgery. And his position is crowded now as they drafted David Sharpe in the fourth round in May. They also signed veteran Marshall Newhouse to a much cheaper contract and have Vadal Alexander coming back.

Howard is scheduled to make $6.4 million this year and $6.9 million in 2018 so the microscope is on him. Of course, the Raiders don’t mind paying top dollar to keep Carr upright and healthy. But the right OT position is under serious review right now as that was the weakness of the O-line in 2016.

So the competition is on at right OT and if Howard doesn’t win, there’s no reason to give him $6.9 million.

He has to show something this year!

Just win, baby!