By Nick Shook
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A new contract for someone else made Gabe Jackson‘s life as a Raider uncertain last offseason.
The arrival of Kelechi Osemele forced Oakland’s staff to ask Jackson to move to the right side of the line, something with which he wasn’t exactly comfortable. Jackson flourished, though, and a year later is on financial cloud nine after a big payday of his own.
That tends to happen to a team that is on the rise and coming off its first playoff appearance in almost 15 years.
Derek Carr became the highest-paid quarterback in late June, but a good amount of the ensuing press conference was spent trumpeting how his deal would help the Raiders retain other key pieces. Then, Jackson’s contract came less than a week later. The guard reflected on what ended up being a transformative 2016 on Monday.
“To be honest with you, before I say that, I was a little nervous about [switching sides] because I didn’t know exactly how it was going to turn out, so just in my mind, I had it like, can’t get beat,” Jackson told the team’s official website. “This is what the situation is, so you have to adjust to it, and life is about adjustment.”
Jackson adjusted about as well as one could, working as one fifth of a line that allowed a league-low 18 sacks. It resulted in a five-year, $56 million extension through 2022 for the lineman. Jackson can also thank the man he protects, who vocalized a need to invest in more than just the quarterback.
“I started smiling when I first heard [Carr] say that because, I mean, he always said that to me before, that he wants to make sure everybody else is good,” Jackson said. “It just goes to show you about his character, and how he is as a person. He’s one of the most selfless people I know.”
2017 will be a return to blocking for Carr, who was lost late in the 2016 season to a broken leg. But it will also add another big name in the backfield in new arrival Marshawn Lynch, who has the Raidersline juiced for a return to the field.
“I feel like he just brings a little more attitude,” Jackson said of Lynch. “He plays with attitude, runs with attitude, and he’s an aggressive player, and when you see that out of a running back, it just adds gas to the fire. It makes you just want to go do more, because you know they’re going to do all they can for you.”
Oakland’s fire burned rather intensely for much of 2016. Adding fuel to it is dangerous for the rest of the AFC, and with two key pieces on the offensive side locked into deals for the future, that blaze doesn’t look to be slowing any time soon.