SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Jerry Rice was a key member of the Oakland Raiders’ last Super Bowl team.
That was 15 years ago. However, Rice believes the Raiders – who ended a 14-season playoff drought last season – must be considered a serious Super Bowl threat in the 2017 season. Talking on the driving range Wednesday before teeing off at the American Century celebrity golf tournament, Rice excitedly ran down all the reasons why he thinks Oakland can end its Super Bowl drought in an interview with FanRag Sports.
“I think they are terrific,” Rice said. “I really like what they have… They are going to be tough to get past in the AFC.”
Rice said the key for a successful season in Oakland is that the team made sure to get a contract extension for star quarterback Derek Carr. The Raiders gave Carr a five-year, $125 million contract in June. He is now the highest-paid player in the NFL. Rice said the fact that Carr’s deal is done gives everyone peace. The Raiders can concentrate on the season. He said Carr was well worth Oakland’s investment.
“He‘s fantastic,” Rice said of Carr. “I really like that kid. He’s a superstar. He’s going to have a big season.”
One of the reasons why Rice is so hopeful for Carr is the collection of weapons he has around him.
Oakland has one of the best offensive lines in football. It gave up the fewest sacks in 2016. Rice also loves Oakland’s receivers, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. He also likes the additions of two free agents, receiver/returner Cordarrelle Patterson and tight end Jared Cook.
“There’s nothing not to like with those guys,” Rice said. “I really like what they did at running back.”
Rice, of course, was referring to Marshawn Lynch, who retired from the Seattle Seahawks prior to the 2016 season. They traded his rights to his hometown Raiders. Even though Lynch is 31 (which is ancient for a running back), he hasn’t played in two years. Though he was oft-injured when he last played, Lynch — according to Rice — will still be a factor. Rice said he thinks the Raiders are getting a very motivated Lynch.
“I think he wants to stick it to Seattle,” Rice said with a laugh. “He wants to say, ‘Take that, Seattle.’ So, I think he will have a big year.”
Rice said the only thing that worries him about the Raiders is the lack of a “legitimate” backup quarterback. Carr suffered a broken leg in Week 16 which dashed Oakland’s playoff chances. Second-year player Connor Cook and veteran free-agent addition E.J. Manuel will compete to backup Carr.
“Other than that, I really like the Raiders,” Rice said.
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