The Raiders signed Ateman, an exclusive rights free agent, on Monday. Ateman has been nudged down the depth chart throughout the offseason due to the trade for Antonio Brown and signings of Tyrell Williams, J.J. Nelson and Ryan Grant (toe). Still, Ateman may get in the act as an X receiver in 2019, considering GM Mike Mayock called him the projected starter at the spot before all the additions. In a seven-game cameo to conclude last season, Ateman hauled in 15 of his 31 targets for 154 yards and one touchdown.
Ateman is part of a receiving corps that has added Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams while subtracting Jordy Nelson, Scott Bair of NBC Bay Area reports. It's a net loss for Ateman's standing on the depth chart, seemingly dropping him to No. 4 behind Brown, Williams and slot man Seth Roberts. The Raiders do at least seem to view Ateman as an asset, with general manager Mike Mayock saying in late February that the 2018 seventh-round pick would enter the offseason as a projected starter. He obviously lost that standing in a hurry, but Ateman should still have a good chance to keep his spot on the 53-man roster.
General manager Mike Mayock said Ateman will enter the offseason as Oakland's projected starter at the X receiver spot, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. The seventh-round pick made a bit of noise toward the end of his rookie season, but marks of 10.3 yards per catch and 5.0 per target don't exactly make the best case to keep him in a starting role. At the very least, Ateman will face significant competition for the job, and he may even need to battle for a roster spot if the Raiders have a busy offseason at his position.
Ateman caught one pass on three targets for seven yards during Sunday's 35-3 loss to the Chiefs. Ateman, who was a seventh-round selection by the Raiders in 2018, spent the first 10 weeks of the season on the team's practice squad before earning the callup. He finished his rookie campaign with 15 catches on 31 targets for 154 yards and a score in seven games. Ateman may have proved himself worthy of a spot on the active roster from the get-go in 2019 as he provided a big-bodied presence on the outside following season-ending injuries to Martavis Bryant (knee) and Brandon LaFell (Achilles).
Ateman didn't earn a single target Monday in the Raiders' 27-14 win over the Broncos. With the Raiders racing out to a 17-point halftime lead, the team relied on the ground game to run the clock for much of the second half. That left less volume than usual to go around in the passing game, but it was still surprising that Ateman didn't draw any looks from quarterback Derek Carr after earning at least four targets in each of the previous five contests. Considering Ateman still played 47 of the 62 offensive snaps (76 percent), it's safe to assume he's locked into a regular role in three-receiver formations heading into the season finale in Kansas City this weekend.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
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