As soon as Jordy Nelson was released by the Green Bay Packers Nick Martin Jersey , the Oakland Raiders put on a full-court press to acquire the former Pro Bowler.
His former position coach and coordinator in Green Bay, Edgar Bennett, and new Raiders coach Jon Gruden immediately called to bring him out for a free-agent visit. Quarterback Derek Carr picked him up at the airport and gave him a tour of the Bay Area.
Then the Raiders offered a two-year deal worth a reported $15 million that persuaded him to cancel his other scheduled visits and sign with Oakland.
"The plan was to make some other trips, but you never know what's going to happen," Nelson said Thursday. "You get to place and you enjoy it and they enjoy it. Obviously, there's a financial part of that. One thing I didn't want to do is fly around the country just because. I didn't want to waste my time or anyone else's time."
The Raiders wasted little time Thursday attempting to rebuild under their first-year coach, releasing receiver Michael Crabtree to make room for Nelson; signing safety Marcus Gilchrist, linebacker Tahir Whitehead, running back Doug Martin and fullback Keith Smith; and finalizing deals with blocking tight ends Derek Carrier and Lee Smith that had been agreed to earlier in the week.
But the most high-profile move came at receiver, where Nelson hopes to bounce back from a down season and help Carr and the Raiders get back to the high level they produced at in 2016.
The 32-year-old Nelson struggled last season with 53 catches for 482 yards and six TDs, recording a career-low 9.1 yards per reception as Aaron Rodgers missed more than half the year with injuries.
"I can make plays," Nelson said. "I look forward to just getting out Andy Dalton Jersey , getting in rhythm with Derek and start forming that chemistry with him that I've had with Aaron for the last 10 years. Continue to build off that. Just see what happens. Go out there and play my role in this offense. Make the plays that are available."
Nelson had made the Pro Bowl in 2014 and won AP Comeback Player of the Year in 2016 when he led the league with 14 touchdown catches a year after missing the entire season with a right knee injury.
Nelson had four 1,000-yard seasons in Green Bay, including 1,519 yards on 98 catches in 2014. In 136 career games, he has 550 catches for 7,848 yards and 69 TDs.
Crabtree had a $7.7 million cap hit for this season but there is no dead money with his release. The 30-year-old Crabtree had 232 catches for 2,543 yards and 25 touchdowns in three seasons with the Raiders.
The other big moves came on defense where Oakland added two potential starters to fill holes at safety and linebacker.
Whitehead joins the Raiders after spending his first six seasons with Lions. He has 378 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, four interceptions and 18 passes defensed in 93 career games.
Gilchrist has played seven seasons with the Chargers, Jets and Houston. He has 11 interceptions Rigoberto Sanchez Jersey , 33 passes defensed, four sacks, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He will likely step in as a starter alongside Karl Joseph.
Martin, who grew up in nearby Stockton, is a two-time Pro Bowler but averaged just 2.9 yards per carry the past two seasons, the lowest for any back in the league. That was part of what led to his release by the Buccaneers last month.
He joins a running back room that is currently led by Marshawn Lynch, along with youngsters DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.
"I have been the lead back for most of my career, but what enticed me in coming here is the potential for this team," Martin said. "We have Gruden coming. The front line and just being home. I was born here. This is my homecoming. Those are the things that enticed me on signing here."
The 29-year-old Martin rushed for 1,454 yards as a rookie in 2012, including 251 in a win at Oakland. He also ran for 1,402 yards in 2015 but has failed to reach 500 yards in any of his other four seasons as he was hampered by injuries and a suspension for performance-enhancing substances.
Keith Smith gives the Raiders another fullback along with Jamize Olawale. Smith Julius Peppers Jersey , a converted linebacker, played only sparingly on offense with the Cowboys but was an important part of the special teams under coordinator Rich Bisaccia, who now holds the same job with the Raiders.
Carrier has 36 catches for 327 yards and one TD in 50 games in his career. He caught eight passes for 71 yards last season with the Rams.
Lee Smith joined Oakland originally as a free agent in 2015 and has been a strong run blocker in his three years with the team. He played 35 games, missing most of the 2016 season with a leg injury. He has 26 catches for 175 and one touchdown with the Raiders.
Despite having a fastball that doesn’t reach 90 miles an hour, Wade LeBlanc effectively shut down one of the best lineups in the American League.
LeBlanc pitched into the eighth inning and Nelson Cruz had an RBI single as the Seattle Mariners beat the Boston Red Sox 1-0 Saturday night.
LeBlanc gave up just two hits and struck out nine over 7 2/3 innings. After a single by Mookie Betts on the opening at-bat of the game, he retired the next 22 batters until Eduardo Nunez singled with two outs in the eighth.
”What a changeup he had today. That has been his bread and butter his whole career, but today was probably the best one we’ve seen all year,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. ”He knows his craft very well and when he gets on a roll like that, he just keeps riding it.”
LeBlanc (3-0) wasn’t a part of the Mariners starting rotation until the first week of May. But since replacing an injured Erasmo Ramirez in the rotation, LeBlanc has shined for the Mariners. He’s posted a 2.06 ERA in nine starts and Saturday’s gem was the best of the lot.
A near-capacity crowd at Safeco Field saluted LeBlanc with a standing ovation as he left the field after Nunez’s single.
”That’s a really neat moment. Guys that throw 86 (mph) don’t really get standing ovations really often,” LeBlanc said chuckling. ”I definitely wanted to kind of take them in and show my appreciation for it.”
Alex Colome got pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland to pop out to end the eighth, and Edwin Diaz struck out the side in the ninth for his 27th save.
It was LeBlanc’s first start of more than seven innings pitched since his first outing of the 2011 season with the San Diego Padres. His nine strikeouts were also his most since striking out 10 against the Los Angeles Dodgers that same season.
”He reminds me of that guy on the wall over there Joseph Noteboom Jersey ,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said gesturing toward a photo of Jamie Moyer. ”LeBlanc was outstanding. Back-door cutters, front-door sinkers and mixed up his breaking ball halfway through the game, all on the edge of the strike zone.”
LeBlanc had a little help from Dee Gordon at second base with diving stops to rob Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts of base hits.
The Mariners needed LeBlanc’s stellar outing as they struggled to get a lot going against knuckleballer Steven Wright.
Wright (2-1) held Seattle to just one run and five hits with two walks and four strikeouts over seven innings.
Three singles – all to left field – off Wright in the third inning gave the Mariners their early advantage. Gordon reached with one out while Mitch Haniger and Cruz each singled with two down.
”We got just enough off of a really tough knuckleballer,” Servais said. ”Our guys are not used to seeing that and he was really good. The ball was dancing everywhere. He threw a lot of strikes with it.
”Our guy was just a little bit better.”
It snapped Wright’s string of 25 1/3 scoreless innings, which topped the stretch of 25 scoreless innings by Oakland’s Daniel Mengden for the longest in the majors this season.
The Mariners signed first-round pick Logan Gilbert earlier in the day. The right-handed pitcher from Stetson University posted a 2.52 ERA while going 11-1 with 157 strikeouts and 23 walks in 15 starts. His 157 strikeouts lead NCAA Division-I baseball this season.
Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz played catch in the outfield on Friday and is expected to do so again on Sunday. Manager Alex Cora said Pomeranz still felt stiff from his left biceps tendinitis but that they didn’t feel it was anything serious. ”He was moving around better today,” Cora said.
Mariners: RHP Juan Nicasio threw a live bullpen session prior to Saturday’s game. Nicasio is expected to be activated from the disabled list during Seattle’s upcoming series in New York. He’s eligible to come off the disabled list on Sunday after having fluid buildup in his right knee.
Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (8-1) has won each of his last five starts and hasn’t allowed more than two runs in a start since May 15. He’s posted a 2.15 ERA over 29 1/3 innings with 30 strikeouts over his last five outings.
Mariners: RHP Mike Leake (7-3) has pitched at least six innings in each of his last five starts, posting a 3-0 record with a 1.77 ERA over that span.
Devonte Graham Jersey ,