With New Deal in Hand, Raiders' Jackson Eager to Work

He says switch to right guard in 2016 was a challenge, but he met it head on and is eager to keep improving in 2017 as part of strong offensive line

A year ago, Gabe Jackson didn’t know what to think.

After starting his first two pro seasons at left guard for the Raiders, Oakland had doled out big bucks to free agent lineman Kelechi Osemele. The Raiders told Jackson he would have to move to right guard. Osemele would move into Jackson’s spot on the left side.

“To be honest, I was a little nervous about it,” Jackson said this week. “I didn’t know how it was going to turn out.”

But, he vowed to make the best of the situation.

“Can’t get beat,” he said. “This is what the situation is, so you’ve got to adjust to it. Life is about adjustments.”

In the end, it all worked out just fine for Jackson and the Raiders.

Jackson had another fine season at his new spot, and was ranked by the analytic website Pro Football Focus as the NFL’s No. 1 guard in pass-blocking efficiency. As a unit, the Raiders’ offensive line was one of the league’s best in 2016.

Now the Raiders have rewarded Jackson with a five-year contract extension worth a reported $56 million.

“It means a lot,” Jackson said this week in a session with the media to talk about his new deal. “I’m very appreciative that they thought that much of me to keep me here, and so I can keep wearing silver and black for at least five more years. I’m very grateful for that.”

Though Jackson has been outstanding since his rookie season of 2014, he has yet to make the Pro Bowl. Last year, he was an alternate, but didn’t go to the game.

He has big goals for both himself and the Raiders, however, and says he’ll do this season what he’s done since his rookie year: work. In 2016, he had to switch positions, adjust and battle to get better. It paid off.

“Nothing is promised,” said Jackson. “Nothing is guaranteed, but I just kept doing the little things right and kept getting better as a player and just worked my butt off.”

Jackson and the Raiders, who went 12-4 in 2016, will get back to work when they report for training camp July 28.

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