The last time Oakland Raiders defensive end Tyler Brayton deliberately removed himself from action with the Silver and Black, he was caught using his knee as a alternative form of contraception.
That was November 6, 2006 in a shutout on-road loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Brayton, caught up in a scuffle with loudmouth tight end Jerramy Stevens, grabbed the 260-pounder by his jersey and kneed him in the groin.
He was immediately ejected from the game and later fined $25,000.
"Not just from a football and a suspension standpoint, but from a manhood standpoint, that was lame," ESPN announcer Mike Tirico commented during the live, nationally-televised broadcast.
Now, Brayton is ready to suspend himself from the Raiders' entire 2008 season.
The 28-year-old voided the final year of his rookie contract this past weekend, officially making him an unrestricted free agent.
Three months after being drafted by Oakland 32nd overall in 2003, the 280-pound defensive end agreed to a six year-contract with the Raiders, worth close to $6 million; it also included a $3 million signing bonus.
The deal, however, included a provision that would allow the ex-Colorado standout to void the sixth and final year if he reached a predetermined amount of playing time.
If the provision had been based on production, he'd probably be stuck in Oakland for another season.
In 79 games with the Raiders—and in at three different positions —Brayton has recorded 175 tackles, six sacks, and one interception. It all sounds good assembled as one stat line, but evaluated on a year-by-year basis, Brayton doesn't look like the best of former first-round picks. Or even the best of fourth-rounders.
Over a span of five years, the 6’6” defender averaged just 29 tackles and 1.2 sacks per season.
In fact, Brayton's best pro season was 2003—his rookie year—when he started in all 16 games and registered 61 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
Since then he's gotten progressively worse, thanks in part to position and coaching changes and in part to lack of skill. The last time Brayton tallied a sack was on October 30, 2005. In all of last season he had just 11 tackles.
The recent decision to void the final year of his contract, then, is a rather surprising one. On perhaps any one of the other 31 teams in the NFL, he would have been cut by now. Last offseason, Oakland opted to cut loose third-round rookie DE Quentin Moses ahead of Brayton.
Now the soon-to-be career backup has decided to pay back the franchise that has overpaid him by cutting the leash and running away.
When other teams actually see him running, however, they may pass.
Hopefully team owner Al Davis doesn't believe in second chances.
Anthony Carroll can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org