Question: I agree with what you said about Raiders being a competent offense away from 8-8 next year. Historically, they have focused on having a premier offensive line behind where unheralded players such as Hubbard, Van Eghan, my grandmother etc. could be effective. How would you fix the O-line? Are there going to be any competent free-agent LTs? I would put Gallery back at RT, trade down with our No. 1 pick and focus on getting two good offensive lineman in picks 1-4. I would look to replace Grove and Walker and start Sims, Boothe and Gallery. What are your thoughts?
-- Jonathan Mayhew
Answer: If I had the answer to that, I’d probably be the offensive coordinator, not John Shoop. The Raiders won’t be able to sign a franchise left tackle because those players are usually tagged "franchise players" by their teams and never become free agents.
What I would do is look at adding more size at center and find tackles that are not only good athletes (a quality everyone trumpets about Robert Gallery and Langston Walker) and find two guys who play with a mean streak. The Raiders need an aggressive leader for this group. Left guards like Steve Hutchinson and Larry Allen were available last year, but the Raiders didn’t make a run at them. Both would have been good leaders and helped Gallery.
But here’s what’s likely to happen. Robert Gallery will stay at left tackle because in spite of his struggles, the Raiders won’t concede he is a bust without letting play on the left side for another year. The Raiders are intent on playing rookie Paul McQuistan at left guard the rest of the season, meaning Barry Sims and the $13.3 million in guaranteed money he is owed for the next three season is likely gone after this season. Jake Grove will stay at center and Kevin Boothe has earned the chance to stay at right guard. Langston Walker could become a free agent and leave after this season, making right tackle a spot that might have to be filled.
-- Jason Jones
Question: Rumors have it that Al Davis wants to sell the Raiders for $740,000,000. It this only a rumor?
-- Bob Bevill, Denver
Answer: That would definitely qualify as a rumor. There have also been rumblings Davis would like to sell a portion of the team, but the Raiders haven’t substantiated that talk, either. Many of these rumors have to do with the state of Al Davis’ health. He is 77, but those around him say he is limited physically, but is as sharp as ever mentally. Davis no longer attends practices but comes to the facility in the evening to watch film. And he’s still coaching up players in the locker room after games.
-- Jason Jones