Saturday, 1 March 2008

Free Agency Picks Up Momentum In Oakland

OK, here we go RAIDER NATION, it's that time of year again, and things have started to happen already in Alameda.

First Tommy Kelly gets a whopper of a contract to sign a long term deal over seven years, a deal which seems to have got the NFL's collective knickers in a twist, due to its size and recipient, and the fact that the rest of the league will have to cough up big time to pick up a DT in free agency.Only time will tell if the Kelly deal was warranted or not, but Warren Sapp seemed to be pretty confident of the guy's abilities, and a fully healthy Tommy Kelly playing inside with a big contract in his back pocket is a positive move for a team that was woeful against the run last year, who cares what the rest of the league thinks, the stock of D-linemen was on the rise anyway after the job that the NY Giants did on Brady's bunch, and with the top of the draft expected to involve Ellis, Dorsey, and Long the likelihood is that if one of these went No.1 their agents would have been looking at Mario Williams $54,000,000 contract with their clients yet to play a down in the NFL.

The inside of the RAIDERS line now has Kelly, Warren, and Sands.The DE position only really has Burgess and Jay Richardson coming back in 2008 after the loss of Chris Clemons to the Eagles.Does this point to either a draft pick up of Chris Long ( if still on the board ), or Vernon Gholston, or maybe a a rumoured shot at Jevon Kearse?Whatever the scenario you get the feeling that there is more to come concerning the D-line's look before next season.

The other pressing need on the RAIDERS D was at safety.The position needed to be upgraded and with the signing of Gibril Wilson at SS, we get a good tackler, who can also make the interception, and at the same time Micheal Huff will get the chance to switch to FS and hopefully become the big play guy that he looked in college.Huff hasn't delivered as a RAIDER so far, but this just might be the change he needs to kick start his NFL career.

On the other side of the ball there are things happening too, and irons in the fire it seems.Jerry Porter is gone, and I will not be missing him anytime soon although the RAIDERS offence could do as he has the ability to put up numbers when he can be bothered.The receiving corps looks decidedly weak at the moment and Jamarcus Russell needs some weapons to go to work with.The rumour mill had the RAIDERS looking at both Bernard Berrian and Donte Stallworth, both players now elsewhere, the possibility of Drew Carter visiting Alameda, even though the upcoming draft seems to be a deep one at WR you would expect that Al Davis and Lane Kiffin would like to have an experienced new guy in to compliment Curry and Higgins.

It was bye bye to Barry Simms AND Josh McCown, unless of course the RAIDERS re-negotiate with Simms before the season if he isn't offered a spot elsewhere.With Robert Gallery seemingly settled at LG, the LT spot will be a position of need to help keep Mr Russell in one piece.If Michigan's Jake Long is still there at No4, and with say Chris Long already gone, it could be OL in round one again for the RAIDERS, which is slightly worrying after the ups and downs of the afore-mentioned Gallery.The RAIDERS were a running team first in 2007, and with a returning Justin Fargas and a healthy Micheal Bush, it would be fair to assume that this will be the case again in 2008, but there were hints from Lane Kiffin that next season would see the playbook open up the passing game.If indeed this is the case, obviously the receiver position is going to be important but so will LT with an inexperienced QB back there.
The loss of McCown will hardly keep me up at night, but that leaves the RAIDERS with Andew Walter backing up Russell at this point, and unless it is planned to bring back Culpepper, there isn't much out there as far as FA QB's go.

There are twists and turns between here and the draft, but the team has made moves in and out that seem to have steadied the ship some more.Although the subsequent moves will be the more important, we have made a start, and the fear that free agents would not touch the "dis functional" RAIDERS has cleared to some degree as the great leveller ($$$$$$$$$) has come into play.

A few days ago RAIDERNEWS posted a piece in the Boston Herald regarding the RAIDERS franchised CB Nnamdi Asomugha, comparing the position that he finds himself in as a franchised player with that of recently departed Patriot Asante Samuel.During the article where the Herald writer was obviously dreaming of #21 in a Patriot uniform, he referred to the RAIDERS as a "second tier team".Let me give you an example of what a second tier team's players do to those connected with mouthy east coast teams with no class.Take it away Matt.......................


kigleigh said...

Add Javon Walker(if fit),Dominic Rhodes and let Cable work his magic on Kwame(sorry,i'm english..that name still kills me)Harris who is supposed to be a great run blocker and the free agent signings are adding up to quite an improvement IMO.
Nice to see that the RAIDERS have done their bit to upgrade the teams 'made-up name'quotient in the last few days with the addition of a Gibril,a Javon and a Kwame..Good work Al,but we need to add a few in the draft too.
As we need a No3 WR i think Early Doucet or Limas Sweed would do nicely thankyou.

Calico Jack said...

Nicely done Martin. The keys, IMO, to this offseason:

(1) Walker is healthy & productive for 16 games
(2) The addition of Wilson raises Huff's game
(3) If Cable can get Kwame up to speed during training camp in the ZBS plus add another OT for competition.
(4) Add 1 more everyday WR via the draft
(5) Getting Michael Bush on the field and ready for battle.

Enjoy your weekend across the pond.
Calico Jack

Rambling Psychoses said...

Outstanding post, bro. I especially liked the Millen pic. Nice touch, that.

---Jeff (Arkansan Raider)