Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Raider Round Up

Alameda has been a bee hive of activity over the past few days. Here's a summary of the transactions and projections on personnel.

Bye, Bye:
Tyler Brayton (DL) opt out of last year of contract; signed today by Carolina.
Comment: Brayton was a 1st round bust who defined the term 'unproductive'.

Josh McCown (QB) signed with Fins 2yr/$6.25M
Comment: Miami gives McCown a legitimate shot at starting otherwise McCown would have been the ideal back up for Russell.

Chris Clemons (DE) signed 5 yr contract with Philly
Comment: Clemons tallied 8 sacks last year in a very limited role (2 starts). He has untapped potential. One wonders if the Raiders didn't lavish Kelly with such a huge contract whether or not there would have been more cap space to sign Clemons before the start of free agency.

Barry Sims (LT) released after 9 years of service with the Raiders.
Comment: Sims is not athletic enough to fit the ZBS and protect Russell's blind side.

Free Agent Signings:
Gibril Wilson (S from NY Giants) > Contract: 6 years/$39M/$16M guaranteed; $8.4M Signing Bonus; 2009 $4.5M Roster Bonus
Career Stats: Wilson over the past 2 seasons: Ints (six); Passes Defensed (17); tackles (195); Games (28)

Scouting Report:
Wilson, a four-year veteran, was drafted in the fifth round out of Tennessee by the Giants and basically been a starter since Day 1. He has good measurables with athleticism, quickness and adequate speed going for him. He is a downhill player that thinks run first, pass second. He has come a long way in learning how to play under control and avoid missing plays by over running or whiffing in space. He plays like he wants to be an intimidator yet lacks the premier size of some safeties. He strikes a good blow and will wrap on tackles and can drive the ballcarrier back after contact. He is adequate in his backpedal and has a little tightness in his hips when he has to open and drive on the ball laterally, but he is quick to accelerate and can close on the ball better than most. If he guesses the wrong angle initially, he struggles to make it up, as he lacks a second gear to catch up. He can match up against most tight ends but will struggle trying to man up on some of the better ones. He is inconsistent getting a jump on the ball from zone and appears to guess where the quarterback is going with the ball at times.

Comment: Wilson's tackling prowess and playmaking skills will greatly benefit the Raiders' D. This signing will upgrade the safety position significantly. It is open to debate how Ryan will utilize Wilson & Huff. Will these 2 safeties be interchangeable depending on match ups or will Huff slide over to FS permanently? There was discussion prior to the 2007 season of incorporating a LS (left safety) / RS (right safety) scheme in which each safety is responsible for 1 half of the field similar to how conerbacks are employed. One can't discount the possibility of Wilson playing FS and Huff SS. It will be an interesting development to keep you eyes on. Regardless, Wilson's instinctive football intelligence will be a major plus.

Javon Walker (WR from Denver) > Contract: 6 years/$55M/$16M guaranteed/$11M signing bonus; 2009 $5M Roster Bonus + $4M salary) Career Stats

Scouting Report:
Walker missed most of the 2005 season after injuring his right knee (ACL) and signed with the Broncos prior to the 2006 season. He was not quite at 100 percent during the early part of last season but seemed to find his stride and gain confidence in his knee as the season progressed. By the end of the year he became the go-to receiver for the Broncos and showed why Green bay drafted him in the first round in 2002. Walker has excellent size and above-average speed and is a fluid, agile athlete. He has a strong stride that can eat up ground on the corner covering him and has an extra gear to run past coverage on go routes. He can make the downfield catch as well as go across the middle and snatch the ball in traffic. Walker is effective as a runner when he gets the ball on reverses and has the size and strength to break some tackles. He is also not timid when it comes to blocking for other receivers after the catch.

Comment: The Raiders WR corps is wafer thin. The only WR prior to the Walker signing that you could reliably employ on the field was Ronald Curry. The addition of Walker, if he remains healthy, is crucial to the delopment of JaMarcus Russell.

Kwame Harris (OT from SF) > Contract: 3 years/$16M; 2008 $3M salary; 2009 $2M salary + $6M Roster Bonus
Scouting Report:
Harris is tall, long-armed and well-built. He is a smooth athlete. He can get very wide in his pass set and has the wingspan to ride edge rushers past the pocket. He has enough quickness and reach to adjust and recover fairly well. But Harris is an underachiever whose easygoing temperament is better suited to the left side. He lacks the play strength and toughness to succeed on the right side. He is a low-motor player who plays too nice. He needs a lot of technical refinement. He isn't a natural knee bender. He plays too tall and with wide hands. He absorbs too much in pass protection and has trouble holding his ground against good power rushers. He lacks ideal balance when engaged and spends way too much time on the ground. He takes false steps and is out of position far too often. He gets beat too often for a player with his talent.

Comment: Harris has been an underachiever in his career to date. The question is whether or not OL Coach Tom Cable can take this slab of clay and turn it into a piece of art. If Harris is suited to the ZBS and coachable then he could be a valuable swing OT playing either LT or RT. Ideally what I would like to see happen is for the Raiders to draft a OT in the 1st or 2nd round to allow for healthy competition at OT (McQuistan, Henderson, Harris, and draftee).

Draft Conjecture:
My best case scenario is as follows:
Raiders trade 1st round #4 pick to Dallas for Dallas' 1st round #22 + #28 picks and a starter (WR, RB). With our #22 pick I would love to see us take Sam Baker (LT, USC) and with our #28 pick Early Doucet (WR, LSU) or James Hardy (WR, Indiana).

Raider Signings:
Tommy Kelly (DT/DE)
7 year/$50.5M/$18.5 guaranteed/$25.125M in 1st 3 years; $13.5 Signing Bonus; 2009 $4.5 Roster Bonus
Comment: It was wise to bring Kelly back but the contract numbers are a real head scratcher. Kelly has shown that he can be a valuable cog to the DL. However it is perplexing how he inked the largest DL contract in the entire NFL when he has played at a Pro Bowl level.

Nnamdi Asomugha (CB) $10M 2008 (approx. excluse tag value)
Comment: Asomugha is a conernstone player and team leader for the Raiders. #21 has established himself as one of the top 5 cornerbacks in the entire NFL. It is my hope that the Raiders organization will continue to hammer out a long term deal for Asomugha instead of slapping the tag on him again in 2009.

Other Contracts Worth Noting:
Terdell Sands
(DT) > Contract signed prior to 2007 season: 4yr/$17M contract
2008 $1.2M salary + $1.3M Roster Bonus
2009 $1.3M salary + $1.3M Roster Bonus
2010 $4.6M salary + $800K Roster Bonus

Gerrard Warren (DT)
2008 $4M salary + $1M Workout Bonus
2009 $4.63M salary + $1M Workout Bonus
2010 $4.68M salary + $1M Workout Bonus + $1M Roster Bonus

Michael Huff (S) > Contract signed prior to 2006 season: 6yr/$43M/$15M guaranteed + $20M incentives)
2008 $445K salary

When you look at the above contracts, you might note that a huge, disproportionate amount of the 2008 cap space ($116M) is devoted to the DL (Kelly, Sands, Warren) and the secondary (Wilson, Asomugha, Huff). With the sizable contracts of Walker and Harris, this could very well be the end of our significant free agency signings. For reference sake, the #4 pick in the draft last season (Gaines Adams/DE) signed a 6 year/$46M/$18.6M guaranteed contract. It looks like our capologist will need to work his magic to put the best possible 53 men under contract.


Anonymous The Raider said...

I guess this means Bryant Johnson is not a possibility.

Dam! I really wanted Johnson and a drafted wide out (Sweed or another big guy) to back up Curry.

I like our D. All that is missing is a smart and powerful DT or DE out of the draft to solidify that side of the ball.

It was a great move to get Gebril Wilson. The draft is not deep with safetys this year and he might be the best free agent signing since Burgess.

Maybe we can trade Fabian "Ike" for a draft pick or another lineman. Routt or Bowe could fill in well.

Can LaMont Jordan be traded for anything?

If the team were to dump a couple more and maybe restructure a contract or two...anything is possible.

We got to keep our 4th pick!

No way should we give it up. With the league getting younger, we must draft a Dorsey, Long or Ellis.

We need instant starters that will make huge impacts. The Raider Nation is owed this.

As far as the offensive side of the ball...

There are a lot of untouched UFA Guards and Tackles out there. The draft is deeper than expected with them (especially after the combine results). Veterans that know what they are doing, is what J'Roc(Russell) needs in front.

Tom Cable is one hell of a coach. I'm counting on him to teach young and old on how to play at the highest level.

I love our FB and TE situation.
Pretty Fn' solid.
I still think Madsen could be a great number 3 receiver.

Curry and Walker sounds good, but I'd like to get an update on Javon's health. The only good thing about his pay day was that it was a symbolic slap in the face towards Porter.

I'm happy with Walter being the second guy.
The kid had started in the worst case for any player to be caught in. I can see him filling in at times and shocking a lot of fans with some awesome stuff.

A full off season with J-Roc working harder and in OTAs, Mini Camp, Training Camp and Pre Season is huge! I can't wait to see the official schedule.

I hope to see Fargas Bush and Rhodes get the rock.
This McFadden talk needs to stop. The only player that should be considered on offense in round one, is Jake Long.

I can't stand the thought of "Chris" Long going to a rival or anywhere else really. If I had to pick today, it would be the fastest, smartest, tallest D Lineman...it just so happens to be Chris Long.

On a final note: I must say that it is a breath of fresh air to have Sims, Brayton and Porter out of our lives! I feel that the final piece of the Gruden virus has been flushed away.

1:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jared Allen said he will be playing his last year as a kansashity queef if he was tagged.
Well, he is tagged.
He grew up a Raider fan and maybe next year, he will be a Raider.

1:09 AM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Calico- best analysis I've read. Some good moves, given what's available, but the money train is a bit of a mystery.

You and I can probably agree (but others might flinch) that an early showing of support for, and confidence in, the head coach may have helped save some money here.

The Raiders, under Lane Kiffin, were clearly heading for an upward swing after last season, then things just got ugly. We'll never truly know what impact that has had.

I would add that it's not too late. A public pat on the back is still in order, IMO.

Staying on the central topic, even with Walker on board, our priority for another vet or high draft pick WR should remain unchanged.

The Raider- Your last statement is choice. Nicely put.

5:55 AM  
Blogger nyraider said...

BTW, nice photo! Think we'll ever see Wilson in the backfield again?

6:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


All the kiffin-davis feud crap aside, the signings the Raiders made should make fans feel relaxed about the Raiders commitment to getting better. IT shows that regardless of the coaching situation the Raiders had a plan and went after exactly what they needed.

Wilson might not be Eric turner or Rod Woodson but he is a big step up on Stu and could help Huff improve. Kelly might have been somewhat overpaid but with the exception fo Shawn Rogers was the best defensive tackle available. If he plays well two years from now his contract will be a bargain. I would rather pay Kelly those big bucks than unproven like Ellis or Dorsey. That being said I too hope they trade down in the draft.


Florida Raider

6:21 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

Great analysis CJ. Again you show your wealth of knowledge and analysis with the team we've grown to love.
Not a big fan of the Javon Walker signing, but I will take it as he is an upgrade from Pouter.
This is what I would like to see for the draft:
Chris Long won’t be available at #4, I wish he would be though. I think we try and trade up 2 spots to get him in Rnd 1. If not then we do trade with Dallas at #4 if Mcfatty is there. Then we select Sam Baker(LT) and Pat Sims (DT). If that doesn't happen with Dallas we select Baker in Rnd 2. If it does happen with Dallas, then we select Kory Lichtensteiger (C, Bowling Green)/Mike Pollak (C, AZ State) in Rnd 2. Jordy Nelson/Danny Amendola (WR) Rnd 4, Maurice Murray (DT, NM State) Rnd 5, Curtis Gatewood (OLB, Vandy) Rnd 6, and whomever in Rnd 7 (maybe Ryan Carpenter, QB, AZ State for competition).

6:24 AM  
Anonymous memdf said...

I love your draft scenario!

9:51 AM  
Anonymous scorpio said...

raidernate said "Not a big fan of the Javon Walker signing, but I will take it as he is an upgrade from Pouter."

i agree nate AS LONG AS he stays healthy! this has been the prob with him the last couple of years. thats a LOT of guaranteed $ to be sittin' on the sidelines hurt. plus he has the tendency to be a whiner. hopefully that bad taste he got in denver'll go away and he'll be productive for us.

as for the draft, i'd go for trading down but it sure looks like we're settin' up to get mcfadden! don't rule that out - especially with your boy al calling the shots. just remember what a hell of a weapon he would be for your guy russell. if not, i'd like to see sedrick ellis. dorsey is damaged goods.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Good points by all.

I personally would have preferred Bryant Johnson (WR, Arizona) over Javon Walker ... less injury, attitude concerns and less $ to sign.

It is critical that we find enough spare cash to sign a tier 2 FA WR such as Drew Carter, Nate Washington, or Eddie Drummond to fill out our depth chart in addition to a 2nd WR.

Possible WR Depth Chart:

Ronald Curry
Javon Walker
Drew Carter
Early Doucet (LSU, 2nd round)
Jonny Lee Higgins
Chris McFoy

The key "X" factor to a productive offseason, IMO, is executing the 1st round trade with Dallas.

We shall see ...

6:56 PM  
Anonymous scorpio said...

calico, i'm not too keen on higgins. then again, the raiders haven't properly assessed what kind of skills he's got (bush?).

you'll probably think i'm nuts but i saw that we have will buchannon back on our roster. i'd like to see if he'll stick this time. BTW, i "think" he went to the giants if i'm not mistaken. does he get a ring? anyway, they get a speed guy (walker - if healthy) and another one in the draft, someone slow with great hands has gotta stick right? buchannon could be that guy. speaking of hands, how about moving madsen back to receiver? guy's got great hands, slow but he's a sure receiver.

re: doucet..... that would be good if we could get him in the 2nd plus you have the familiarity factor with russell. but i doubt he'll last that long.

7:11 PM  
Anonymous The Raider said...

Looks like Cornell Green, Newberry and Rhodes are resigning to restructured deals.

I like the forward progress the team is making.

Next up: Trade Jordan to a nfc team for spare parts.

Signing a Hackett or Johnson would be a beautiful thing, going into the draft, but unlikely.

I'm crossing my fingers for Chris Long.
Next year could be even bigger for free agents.

1:40 AM  
Anonymous scorpio said...

boy, gholston sure would look awesome with our LB corps. he'd make that group dominating for many years to come..... plus, we'd stick it to the gaytriots who are hot after the guy with their geriatric LB's they have now. sigh - choices, choices

8:58 AM  
Blogger kigleigh said...

Nice piece Cj.. I personally am hoping somehow Chris Long falls to 4,but i think i'm probably in dreamland.I think he would make the offseason a great one combined with the other signings.vernon gholston looks to be a great prospect too,but i'm not sold on him at our 4 position.
Lets hope that whoever we pick is at a need position though,PLEASE not McFadden.We've GOT our backs already IMO.

4:12 PM  
Anonymous scorpio said...

al davis has done way dumber things like draft an erratic field goal kicker 16th overall in the 1st round than to possibly pick a gholston or even a mcfadden at #4.

don't overlook mcfadden. he'll be one hell of an offensive weapon for russell. it's not like he's ONLY a RB. he can split out wide, he's known to throw a TD pass or two AND a 4.27/40. you KNOW how al feels about speed.

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great analysis CB,

I am sorry to see Josh go, Walters isn't a good back-up, something has to happen at qb. All in all a good FA, I hope we go after quality DT not DE, O-line and WR in draft.
I remember someone saying Nnamdi would be good as a rookie :)

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drew Carter?

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ha ha, i'd like to know who the 'genius' is in the last post above.

Yeah, Calico had it right: "DREW CARTER". 1 year, $2 Million, and a Great acquisition.

2:37 PM  

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