Oakland Raiders Painfully See Key Players Leave
Sometimes, being a Raider fan makes a person want to change the battery in a hearing aid.
For multiple years, fans for the Silver and Black would hear how Al Davis had run the program into the ground, drafted poorly, had bad examples of player management, etc. Yet when free agency would come around, two examples of opposite thinking would occur. Players would sign deals to come here or players presently here would be highly sought, entertaining millions of dollars to leave the team.
This year, the Raiders had to watch a couple key players leave, and while no team likes to watch players that have earned the right to stay based on their merits, these moves were painful. Anyone who had followed the Raiders since the Tom Cable firing had to see Robert Gallery's impending move with fear. He had gone from a bust in the draft to a good guard, at times giving the QB plenty of time or allowing a RB to make the line seem porous. Before the lockout brought things to a standstill, even Al Davis couldn't talk Gallery into staying. The fans would see 76 move on.
Another one that fans hoped for staying, Nnamdi Asomugha, wound up getting courted by several teams. Asomugha finally took his game to the Eagles. When the naming of Hue Jackson as coach had hinted at the loss, Al Davis pointed out that for the cost, the Raiders could do better. This remains to be seen, considering that Stanford Routt isn't even in the same zip code as Asomugha.
Two smaller part-players would cause a little sting, as Thomas Howard would leave for Cinci, while Johnnie Lee Higgins would depart as well. Some felt Howard had too many mistakes to make up for his performance. I think this loss will come back somewhere to hurt us. Losing Higgins wasn't worth an exhale; the player had been playing scared since a big hit made him gunshy.
But then the loss of Zach Miller, a key cog in Oakland's Offense, led to a lot of anguish. Fans felt betrayed, angry and mostly confused. The Raiders are a team known for Dave Casper, Todd Christensen and others—how could Miller be allowed to move onto another team?
Two aspects that seemed to be at play was Tom Cable and Al Davis. When Cable was let go after finishing 8-8, a number of players spoke out regarding the loss of Cable. But even more players felt that Cable was the key to keeping this whole team running, regardless that Hue Jackson had stepped up to move the offense forward. Given the chance, Zach Miller was wined and dined by Seattle, Cable's new team, and the opportunity to join Gallery and Cable proved tempting.
The second problem dealt from Al Davis and his problematic budgeting regarding TEs. Apparently, Al Davis has a habit of overpaying some positions, like a CB or S position. He either felt that TEs aren't worth as much or that TEs like Miller come along all the time.
But back to the original subject...If Al Davis drafts so poorly, why was the team headhunted so madly? Granted, nobody, not even the CFL, is going to line up for Darrius Heyward-Bey or JaMarcus Russell. But looking at the players that the Raiders have drafted, we have seen some surprises come around elsewhere.
While Miller and Higgins both left via the 2007 draft, Oakland dogged a bullet when Michael Bush was declared a restricted free agent. If he had left the team during this chaos, Oakland would have been hard pressed should McFadden's injury history continues.
In 2006, Howard's year, Michael Huff was able to test the market but due to a timely bashing from Warren Sapp, he probably wasn't able to get a serious offer and elected to stay in Oakland.
In 2005, Kirk Morrison would leave via a trade to Jacksonville for a draft pick in 2010. Fabian Washington would leave as well via trade, and wound up becoming a useful addition for the Ravens and in the offseason before signing with the Saints.
In 2004, Robert Gallery's draft, the Raiders picked up Jake Grove, a decent but often-injured center who would be replaced. Fan favorite Stuart Schweigert would stick with the team until 2008.
In 2003, the Raiders would draft Asomugha, Tyler Brayton, Justin Fargas and Teyo Johnson. Brayton would gain mention for showing a Seahawk the proper response to the question, "What are you gonna do about it?" Fargas would power Oakland's running game during the dark days and was painfully released. Teyo, some thought to be a promising TE option, talked himself out of a job and was last seen in Canada.
Lastly, in 2002, the Raiders picked up Phillip Buchanon, a speedy CB who seemed talented, but would behave badly at the wrong time. During one particular game, he took off his helmet on the field in a contest against KC, costing the team field position, eventually ending in a loss. Oakland would deal him to the Texans for a couple picks. He would see action with the Lions and Bucs before signing this offseason with the Redskins.
Granted, the Raiders have seen some of these picks turn out to be horrible, some that make one wonder what was Al thinking. But at the same time, who would have thought that Asomugha would be the most sought-after free agent in 2011 back in 2004?
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