Oakland Raiders 2015: overcoming Trent Richardson, JaMarcus Russell

The Oakland Raiders head into the 2015 NFL Draft with their potential franchise quarterback in place in the form of Derek Carr, a solid new head coach in Jack Del Rio, and a good deal of momentum carrying forward from last year’s modest late turnaround after a calamitous start. But at the same time the Raiders are trying to explain the signing of bust Trent Richardson and hearing the name JaMarcus Russell being dropped in the media. So can Oakland manage to live down its own history of ambitious mistakes?

The signing of Trent Richardson appears to be a simple flyer on a talented player who didn’t cost much and may yet turn around his twice-failed NFL career. He’s the exception rather than the rule these days for the Oakland Raiders, who were once known as the black hole in which fading careers went to die as the team spent its salary cap on veteran players no one else wanted anymore.

But the mere mention of JaMarcus Russell stings a bit more. The Raiders thought they had their franchise QB but he turned into one of the biggest busts in NFL history – and now one league insider is suggesting Jameis Winston may not succeed because he has similarities to Russell. That comparison doesn’t seem valid, but it’s yet another opportunity for Oakland Raiders fans to be reminded of what could have been. Still, with Derek Carr now in place at quarterback, the team has an opportunity to build a young nucleus around him and move forward – if it can get past the ghosts of its own failed recent past.

Dallas Cowboys eying Adrian Peterson: can Jerry Jones resist trade?

The Dallas Cowboys say they’re not willing to part with draft picks in order to trade for Adrian Peterson, and either Jerry Jones and the gang have found a new level of restraint or they’re in the midst of one of the biggest NFL head fakes of all time. Jones has publicly stated that he would like to see Peterson in a Cowboys uniform in the past, even as the running back went through off the field controversy and a lengthy suspension. But now his son Stephen says no dice – and yet we all know that Jerry has the final say in Dallas. So which is it?

That depends on what we make of the fact that the Dallas Cowboys nearly took quarterback Johnny Manziel in the first round last season despite the team not needing a quarterback. Even if not for Manziel’s off the field problems that caused him to contribute nothing in his rookie season and end up in rehab, the Cowboys would have gotten nothing out of the pick one way or the other. Instead they took a lineman who turned out to be a star and helped propel the team to their deepest playoff run in years.

So did Jerry Jones and the gang learn that the brash moves don’t usually pay off as well as the solid steady draft picks, or is he now aching more than ever to make a splash that will have his name firmly attached to it in the headlines? Figure out that riddle, and you’ll have the answer as to whether the Dallas Cowboys really mean it when they say they’re not willing to trade for Adrian Peterson, or whether they’re simply trying to drive down the eventual trade price by publicly pretending they don’t really want him to begin with.

Seattle Seahawks: chinks in Pete Carroll’s armor or Super Bowl 3?

The Seattle Seahawks gear up for a run at a third consecutive Super Bowl appearance in the 2015 season. But even as Pete Carroll emerges as one of the top head coaches in the NFL, various chinks in the armor of the Seahawks juggernaut have emerged. Russell Wilson has a contract issue. Darrell Bevell has a trust issue. Dan Quinn is gone. And Marshawn Lynch is, well, Marshawn Lynch. Here’s a look at the tricky issues Seattle must navigate past on their way to approaching Super Bowl Part 3:

Russell Wilson: fans will debate whether he’s an “elite” quarterback, but at the least he’s “good enough” to manage the offense. The catch: he’s been dramatically underpaid his entire career because he’s still playing on a third round rookie contract. That’s about to change, and he’ll want elite money even as the Seattle Seahawks brass is publicly pointing out all that can go wrong with tying up so much of the salary cap in one player. He’ll get paid in the end, but will the uncertainty create a distraction around the team? Pete Carroll has to make sure the answer is no.

Coordinators: Dan Quinn left to take the top job in Atlanta, and now the Seattle Seahawks have promoted from within at the defensive coordinator position. But the greater uncertainty is whether there will be any lingering fallout from offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s decision to call a pass play at the goal line, costing the team a Super Bowl victory. It’s another distraction that needs to be scuttled.

Marshawn Lynch: he’s back under contract, so at least that issue has been settled. But it’s always been difficult to tell if he’s merely an eccentric who enjoys toying with the expectations of the media and fans, or if he’s a ticking timebomb waiting to happen. Once again, Pete Carroll has to continue to figure out how to keep Lynch on track despite all the distractions that the star running back likes to create.