The Oakland Raiders gave their strongest indication yet that Kirk Morrison might be on his way out in the East Bay by giving him an "original pick" tender in free agency.
That means that any team signing Morrison to an offer sheet would have to give the Raiders a third round pick. If that doesn’t sound like Oakland puts much value on Morrison, it’s actually worse than it sounds.
Morrison is scheduled to make $2.5 million in 2010. So Oakland could actually have put a second round tender on his for the same money.
Translated, that means they are trying to get someone to make him an offer. They didn’t think anyone would do it with a second round price tag, but someone might bite with only a third rounder at stake.
This is a very bad indicator for those hoping to see Kirk Morrison in silver and black again next season. What it effectively means is firstly that Oakland are admitting that they have a problem with run defense, and secondly that they believe Kirk Morrison is responsible, at least in part, for those problems.
You have to have some sympathy with Morrison, who has led the Raiders the last five years in tackles and laboured behind a sub par set of defensive tackles for the whole of that time. His detractors will say that too many of his tackles are five yards down the field, and he doesn’t have the physicality to hold the point of attack.
Both arguments have merit, but the conclusion of this week's RFA tenders (Thomas Howard got a second round tender, Jon Condo a second, and Stanford Routt got a first and third round tender) is that Morrison is most probably gone.
Now this, of course, begs the question of who will replace him.
I can’t believe that the Raiders will rely on Ricky Brown, who got a higher tender and pushed Morrison hard for the starting job in camp last year, as he has had durability issues over the last two years. Neither can I believe that Oakland will spend a top 10 pick on a middle linebacker that would most probably be a two down player.
Neither Rolando McLain or Brandon Spikes stood out with enough athleticism at the combine to look like every down players.
Outside of the first round, Oakland might target tackling machine Pat Angerer of Iowa, but there isn’t a great deal of depth at the middle linebacker position in this year’s draft.
If Kirk Morrison is on the way out, the Raiders must have a plan, right?