DeAngelo Hall is cut after earning $1M per game. OK, that is some "funny" money. This clears some deadwood and cap space all in 1 tidy swoop. Performance, attitude, cap space ... who really cares.
Here's a fun fact for all Raider fans which has a BIG warning sign placed next to it: Stay away from sharp, shiny objects. The 2008 Raiders have the HIGHEST payroll of ALL the NFL teams. No joke. The Raiders 2008 payroll is a whopping $152,389,371. To put this "funny" money in perspective, just take a look at a few other NFL team's payrolls:
#28 Green Bay Packers = $94,018,300
#29 Indianapolis Colts = $93,373,915
#30 New England Pats = $92,734,120
#31 Baltimore Ravens = $90,713,965
The Raiders spent $61,676,406 more money on their payroll than the Ravens. The Raiders spent more than 40% on their payroll. Yikes! Which team has the more talented roster? Which team has won more games this year? Which team is in better cap shape to be in the position to add talent to their roster in 2009?
The fact that we have scored 1 TD in 48 1st half possessions is scary. The fact that we have a "lame duck" "interim" head coach is halloweenish. The fact that we are the only team in the NFL without a GM is spooky. To learn today that our payroll is bulging at the seams (see link for Raider roster payroll) makes me want to curl up in the fetal position in a nice warm bomb shelter.
Using the cap space wisely is chapter 1 in NFL Finance 101. Getting the most bang for your buck, making shrewd acquistions based on impact and results, using the cap dollars prudently are the hallmark and blue print for success. I shudder to think what the Raiders cap "expert" has been doing with his idle time. Did the batteries run out on his calculator?
The biggest chunk of the cap space is devoted to the following players where I've added the dollar amounts and comments:
DeAngelo Hall > $1M salary + $7M bonus > $1M a game for a "shut down" corner who should just "shut up".
Tommy Kelly > $625K salary + $13M bonus > Who were the Raiders bidding against to sign Kelly to the 2nd highest DL contract in the NFL? A good player coming off an injury who hit the lottery.
JaVon Walker > $1M salary + $11M bonus > 13 receptions, 1 TD as the "#1 WR"
Derrick Burgess > $4.5M salary > MIA for 50% of games this season
Ronald Curry > $5,102,500 salary > A Captain of the team who is currenly inactive
Gibril Wilson > $605K slary + $8.4M bonus > Solid player, good production, and good acquisition BUT ... he is beginning to wonder about the dysfunctional environment that he has been placed in.
JaMarcus Russell > $370K salary + $16.5M bonus > Reaping the financial rewards of being a #1 pick but is struggling under the current conditions
Nnamdi Asomugha > $9,765,000 salary > Franchise tagged this year. One of the top 3 DBs in the entire league. The problem is 3 fold. #1: He is disgruntled about the current situation in Raiderland especially with the firing of Kiffin and cutting of Hall. #2: The Raiders will more than likely tag him again at approx. $12M. #3: With a team that has so many holes to fill, how smart is it to break the bank on one player ... let alone a DB?
These are the cold hard facts:
The Raiders organization is leadership bankrupt. The payroll is a complete mess. The team has performed very poorly for 6 consecutive seasons. For all intents and purposes, the Raiders have officially hit rock bottom.
Where is the glimmer of hope? How does the team pull itself by the bootstraps out of quicksand? In my view, a successful organization has a 4 legged table of leadership. The owner, General Manager, Head Coach, and QB are, in my estimation, the most important leaders in an organization. These leaders have the biggest impact on a team's fortune. Here is my platform for success:
Al Davis needs to hire a GM who will be involved in the hiring of a Head Coach, evaluation of the roster, evaluation of the draft, selection of free agents. As I alluded to in a prior post, "The GM situation seems to be in the works this off season which Davis hinted at in the press conference. The speculation about "local" candidates points towards Scot McCloughan (49er GM) who is the son of longtime Raider scout Kent McCloughan. Scot was mentored by former Raider GM Ron Wolf in his early career years. The other potential front office candidate is Tom Gamble (49er Director of Pro Personnel) who has had past conversations with Davis. The hiring of a competent, savvy GM is brick #1 in the reconstruction process.
It is critical for a GM to be identified early and hired by late January to allow the necessary time required to evaluate the current roster, be involved in the selection of a new Head Coach, and prioritize the needs of the team.
The Head Coach:
Kawakami at the San Jose Mercury blogged about the rumor of Stanford Head Coach Jim Harbaugh being Al's #1 target for 2009. For unexplainable reasons, Harbaugh has an excellent rapport and relationship with Al. The hiring of Harbaugh would be too good to be true. Without question, Harbaugh has the right stuff to be a successful Head Coach. If Harbaugh doesn't pan out, I would hope that the new GM would lead the charge in the recruitment and selection of another worthy candidate. One of the biggest detriments to the recruitment of a new Raiders Head Coach is the simple fact that there isn't a GM in place. The GM would be a necessary insurance chip to a prospective Head Coach that things are being put in order in Alameda. The GM is a bridge, trusted advisor, counselor, sounding board, and partner between the owner and Head Coach. Without the GM acting as a buffer, the Head Coach is left twisting in the wind by Al.
JaMarcus Russell is facing adversity. He is struggling. The offensive pieces are not in place for him to gain traction. What encourages me the most about Russell's future success has more to do with his character than his physical gifts. The kid is poised, even keeled, and full of confidence. He has showed his true character this season. All #2 needs is time and better support from both his teammates and the organization that signs his checks.