Why Oakland Raider Fans Can Breath a Sigh Of Relief and Scratch Their Heads
This is a roundup of rumors and moves by the Raiders this offseason.
If you had not heard, the Oakland Raiders tendered several restricted free agents, including quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.
This is after the Raiders had tagged DL Richard Seymour and made K Sebastian Janikowski the highest-paid kicker in NFL history.
It should be noted however, that the Seahawks tagged K Olindo Mare and the Steelers tagged kicker Jeff Reed, which would indicate that many in the league are realizing the importance of a good kicker.
The others tendered are linebackers Thomas Howard, Kirk Morrison, Ricky Brown; long-snapper Jon Condo; safety Hiram Eugene; and cornerback Stanford Routt.
It is also rumored that defensive-tackle Gerard Warren and halfback Justin Fargas will be released. I personally would keep Fargas and cut Warren.
It should be noted however that Fargas is still slated with Zach Miller to be honored at the Raiders Commitment to Excellence ceremony, so the ESPN rumor report seems only half-true.
I have already heard some absurd rumors from the likes of Michael Lombardi, whom reported that everyone but Zach Miller and players with immovable contracts were on the trading block.
That would include Nnamdi Asomugha; a player included in trade rumors that the Raiders have refuted. Thus, by knowing those two things, we know that Lombardi's report is inaccurate.
Gradkowski and Russell
Many had wondered if Gradkowski would be allowed to walk and if Al Davis would insist on starting JaMarcus Russell in 2010, no matter what. If Gradkowski signs with a different team, the Raiders would receive a second round pick.
I've made my view clear that I thought that the position should be decided in camp, not by politics, where a team keeps giving chances to a high-paid underachiever.
Don't get me wrong though, I've afforded the possibility that Russell may have just had a really bad slump, but also could not deny the difference made by the switch at quarterback.
For those who don't know, Russell struggled mightily (and that's sugar coating it) in 2009. With Gradkowski behind center, the Raiders appeared to have a functional offense with players previously labeled as busts. It appears that Gradkowski will be back with the Silver & Black in 2010.
Some Head Scratchers
On the flip side, the Raiders tendered cornerback Stanford Routt with a 1st and 3rd pick.
That seems like a steep price for a nickelback who is known for getting burned. I suppose that Mr. Davis had to mix some craziness with sensibility. Nevertheless, Routt may be expected to compete with Chris Johnson for the starting spot, and the other move to nickel.
The Raiders tendered linebacker Kirk Morrison at only a 3rd round pick, when the Raiders could have easily tendered him at a second round pick.
Many have speculated that the move indicates that the Raiders are trying to move Morrison, and even if they can't do so, they will still seek a replacement in the middle.
The Draft doesn't appear loaded with middle linebackers, so the Raiders would either need to sign a veteran or convert a rookie to play the middle.
Speaking of the Draft
We in Raider Nation may already known whom the Raiders will select at 8th overall. That prospect is none other than offensive tackle Bruce Campbell of Maryland.
Campbell is a physical freak who ran 4.78 and 4.82 in the 40, which makes Campbell one of the fastest tackles ever. Campbell measures in at 6'6" and 315 lbs with the long arms needed to play left tackle.
Campbell, once projected as a late first round pick, is almost certainly in the cross-hairs of Mr. Davis. After Mr. Davis took Campbell's teammate Darrius Heyward-Bey because of his lightning time in the 40, it definitely would not surprise me if Raider Nation hears the name of another Terrapin called on Draft day.
And you know, this time it won't be as befuddling.
Wide receiver prospects often have a hard time when they leave for the pros. Tackles, however, can often make an early impact. And with many pass-rushers becoming faster and faster, it seems only sound to want a tackle that can match the speed of his opponent.
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