Al Davis has gone against the grain of the NFL ever since he was the AFL's commissioner. In a previous article, I touched on how he escalated salaries in the AFL and forced the NFL take the AFL seriously, and eventually to merge.
But at the beginning of it, they must have thought, "What is this fool doing?" Now here we are, decades later, and Davis is still going against the grain of the league.
"He's lost it."
"He needs to sell the team because he can't do it anymore."
That's all you've heard people say about him over the last decade of Raiders futility.
Then they calmed down a bit after Davis' offseason last year and the progress of his team in the 2010 season. This offseason so far, Davis has went on a major league spending spree, but has yet to lock in Nnamdi Asomugha and Zach Miller for the long term.
"What an old fool" is what I keep hearing people say of Davis.
Well, that old fool knows exactly what he's doing.
Turn the page to see why.
What is Al Davis doing paying a second string defensive tackle $4 million a year?
Well, Davis isn't going to keep Henderson at second string, as Richard Seymour will be moved back to end in 2011. The Raiders barely missed the top 10 in total defense in 2010, because the run defense was ranked No. 26.
Henderson did stop the run, when he was healthy and his number was called. Opposing teams will now have to run the ball at Lamarr Houston, Henderson, Tommy Kelly and Seymour with a broken in Rolando McClain behind them.
Matt Shaughnessy will come in on third down, Seymour will kick inside, and Kelly moving over.
Many wonder why Davis would give Kamerion Wimbley a $10 million franchise tag. You have to remember that Wimbley is a former first round pick that had a comeback year in 2010 with 9.5 sacks.
That may not put him among the league leaders, but that's a huge number for a 4-3 outside linebacker that doesn't blitz a whole lot. Wimbley also played the run and covered in the passing game well to show that he was a great all around outside linebacker.
Davis is getting value for the franchise tag.
Michael Bush was given the same first and third, $3 million tender as Miller. I have to say that this one was pretty much a no-brainer as well.
You always want an insurance policy for recent breakout star Darren McFadden, as injuries do come his way. Bush is also a good complement to McFadden, providing thunder to his lightning.
Short yardage and goaline are where he excels.
Zach Miller has been tendered to the level of a first and third round pick to be paid $3 million. Miller was a Pro Bowler this past season and Davis loves his tight end.
So why not resign him long term?
There is no real hurry to get a long term deal done with a restricted free agent. Word out of Raider Nation is that Miller feels real confident that he will have a long term deal done before too long.
Perhaps they ran out of time with the C.B.A. deadline while negotiating.
I can hardly see Davis letting his most consistent offensive player since 2007 go anywhere.
Seymour is now the highest defensive player in the league at around $15 million a year. many argue that because Seymour is 31 years old, there's no way that he's worth that kind of money.
I beg to differ.
Seymour is still a dominant defensive lineman that can rush the passer and stop the run. All you really need to so is look and how much better the Oakland Raiders defense has gotten and how much worse the New England Patriots defense is.
Seymour was traded to the Raiders at the beginning of the 2009 season for a first round draft pick.
The Patriot defense went from No. 10 in 2008 with Seymour, to No. 11 in 2009, and No. 25 in 2010. The Raider defense was No. 27 in 2008, moved up one spot to No. 26 in 2009, then finished No. 11 in 2010.
It usually takes two years before the real impact is felt, and you see the result of this one. Seymour isn't just a great player himself, he makes those around him play better.
He is changing things immediately, but his impact will be felt for years to come. He came to camp early so he can take youngsters guys like Shaughnessy and Houston under his wing.
Shaughnessy and Houston will be in Pro Bowls long after Seymour retires as a result. A player like Seymour who has proven to be a mentor both on and off the field is more than worth making him the highest paid defensive player in the league.
There is another benefit to this too.
What is Davis doing with Stanford Routt?
He's paying him.
Why is he paying like an elite corner?
Because he played like one this past season.
Opposing quarterback's completion percentages were the same throwing at Routt as they were throwing at Darelle Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha. But many still can't see why Davis would pay his second best corner over $10 million a year.
They believe he picked his second best corner over his best.
That isn't necessarily the case.
Many believe that Davis has really lost it this time, signing Routt to such a big contract before taking care of Asomugha. They say, "He must be trying to show Asomugha that he really doesn't need him that much."
Part of Davis' blue print to a championship defense is to have two lock down corners. Chris Johnson is not a lock down corner, therefore he knows he needs Routt and Asomugha to complete his blue print.
But to many it appears that Davis chose Routt over Asomugha.
Did those people ever stop to think that Davis is using Routt to keep Asomugha?
Davis truly values corners, as this is a quarterback driven league that pays them and top receivers big money. Defense does win championships and Davis is now driving up the pay scale for corners to defend these quarterbacks and receivers.
With Routt now getting paid over $10 million a year, what do you think Asomugha is going to ask for?
Asomugha will ask for considerably more than that and the rest of the league won't give it to him. That will lead the all-world cornerback right back to Davis and Raider Nation to get paid.
With all of these signings and key players yet to be dealt with. many wonder what Oakland is doing.
The NFL owners have opted out of the last collective bargaining agreement, sighting the economic climate in America as the reason. Davis is sending a huge message to the NFLPA in regards to what the owners can afford.
He's saying, "Don't believe the garbage that the owners are trying to feed you. They want you to believe that we are hurting but the NFL is still making big money. Look what I'm paying and my Raiders didn't exactly set attendance records the last few years."
Davis believes in paying players because that's who the fans go to see. It looks like he doesn't wish to see the other owners in the league take back some of the pie they have given under false pretense.
To him, owners need to stop being greedy.
Davis has been a coach, commissioner and owner in professional football, so he knows this game inside and out. He has also been through a few work stoppages in the NFL and is familiar with the games owners will play.
The contracts that Davis has signed players to lately seems to be his way of calling them out. In the process, he's driving up the pay scale of a position that he covets.
He is also rewarding his players for a their performances this past season.
He is also trying to win in 2011.
The old fool knows exactly what he's doing.