It's a little hard to believe that the season ended over four months ago. There is still another four months until the 2010 regular season begins. So I decided to summarize the first half of the Raiders off-season.
Tom Cable Stays; Hue Jackson Joins As Offensive Coordinator: Most fans agree that another coaching change should not have happened whether or not they liked Tom Cable. The thought of how well this team could play if it had continuity is very interesting. But Cable even agreed that he had too many duties as the head coach/offensive coordinator/offensive line supervisor. Hue Jackson is a good young offensive mind. He had great success in developing the Bengals wide receivers and Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco. Many thought that Jackson was here just for JaMarcus Russell. So much for that. Another coaching staff addition, Mike Waufle on the defensive-line, will help this team. He coached the Raiders' D-line in the Super Bowl run of 2002-03, and won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants in 2007.
Bruce Gradkowski Tendered RFA Offer: Some fans thought that Gradkowski was about to be released because he posed a threat to Russell's depth chart throne. Almost all Raiders fans wanted to see him back to compete for the stater job, especially after he rallied to beat the Bengals and Steelers. He is at least a quality back-up to Jason Campbell.
With the #8 pick, the Raiders draft...Raider Nation was crossing its fingers all day on April 22, and then partied all night after the selection of Rolando McClain. McClain is expected to be the Raiders best draft pick since Nnamdi Asomugha in 2003. That may be a lot of pressure, but McClain is a hard-hitting S.O.B. (in a good way) straight out of Alabama. He will instantly be a starter.
Rest of Raiders Draft: The Raiders not only hit a potential jackpot in round one, they kept up the good work for the rest of the weekend. DT/DE Lamarr Houston from Texas can challenge the starter status of Tommy Kelly and Desmond Bryant in the middle. The Raiders still took the NFL Combine stars that they have a tradition of falling in love with: WR Jacoby Ford was the fastest player in the draft class, and OT Bruce Campbell was the fastest and among the strongest O-linemen. But the Raiders best pick of the 2010 draft may have been there fourth round pick of 2012...
Raiders Trade For QB Jason Campbell: The Raiders traded for and signed an extension through 2011 to Jason Campbell, coming off a season which he threw for 3,000 yards and 20 TD to 15 INT. Not MVP stats, but for a fourth-round pick in 2012 (the world could be over) this is a great trade. J.C. fell out of favor when the Redskins acquired Donovan McNabb. Hard to believe there was no other team interested in J.C. to let Oakland get him for a 2012 fourth-rounder.
Raiders Release JaMarcus Russell: Perhaps the most popular decision the Raiders made since drafting him in 2007. After three years and $39 million, the Raiders pulled the plug on one of the biggest busts in NFL history. Even if Russell succeeds elsewhere, he will be a bust to the Raiders after what they paid him and the return they got from him.
Other News Worth Noting: The Raiders released DE Greg Ellis, RB Justin Fagas, WR Javon Walker, and traded away MLB Kirk Morrison. Ellis, Fargas, and Morrison will be tough to move on from, but the Raiders are set at those positions with Matt Shaugnessy and Rolando McClain. Javon Walker never contributed after going on the IR in 2008. The Raiders acquired OLB Kamerion Wimbley and DE/OLB Quentin Groves; both are experienced in the 3-4 defense. Could this mean something? Last but not least, the Raiders use the franchise tag on Richard Seymour after giving a four-year deal to SeaBass.
What To Look For In The Second Half: The Raiders will have a real QB competition this year, unlike Garcia vs. Russell in 2009. Campbell vs. Gradkowski will not be decided by draft status or contract size. The combined salaries of the two men this year is about $5 million. Also look for competition at WR, KR-PR, RB, and O-line. The Raiders have acquired players who are familiar with the 3-4 defense. The Raiders may be altering their defense. The Raiders begin OTAs Tuesday.