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.
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)
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
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
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).
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).
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.