My voice is back after yelling ďM-V-PĒ for Kobe Bryant in Oakland last night.
I wasnít sitting close to JaMarcus Russell, but I guarantee you he didnít look 300 pounds. Nnamdi Asomugha and Gerard Warren were also in attendance.
I also ran into Aaron Brooks.
But itís time to answer questions. And what does everyone want to know about?
The Draft, Lane Kiffin, Darren McFadden, Vernon Gholston and more on Kiffin.
Question: Are you vying to be the best Raider media outlet? I hope so.
Are you going to hang out to Alameda to get with Kiffin or Russell?
What time is Kiffin going to work?
Rod, Rancho Cordova
Answer: Yes, Iím trying to be the best out there. One of my favorite phrases begins: ďDo thy duty that is best.Ē
So if Iím not trying to be the best, Iím cheating myself and the readers. And though you could find somewhere else for Raider news, Iíd be stuck without a job for not trying to be No. 1.
Iím still the youngest beat writer (the only one under 30, though I hit the thirty mark this fall) and Iím willing to try some different things to get to the bottom of a story.
But I donít plan on hanging out in Alameda like I did at the airport for DeAngelo Hall.
The Raiders have a closed gate and players tend to zoom out I donít want to be road kill to get a story, but that might be the only way to get Kiffin, right?
Or I could hang out late one night and hope to run into him as was the case in Indianapolis at the Combine.
Question: What is motivating Al Davis to spend all this money on free agents? I read in a publication that he is suffering from cancer. Could you shed a little light on that? Also are the Raiders contemplating trading to stockpile picks and possibly draft a wide out particulary James Hardy or Limas Sweed?
Adam, Brockport, PA
Answer: The first part is easy: Al Davis wants to win NOW! Itís been an embarrassing five year stretch for the Raiders. Their 19 wins are the fewest over that span and they havenít been close to respectability since losing in the Super Bowl.
There are always rumors about Davisí health, but this is the first rumor Iíve heard about cancer. Barring anything coming from a reputable source, Iíd dismiss that. Davis uses a walker to get around, but (believe me or not) still works out with weights and is as active as someone almost 80 thatís battled leg problems can be. He doesnít travel as much (Davis didnít attend the Combine) but he was at every Raider game and I donít expect that to change.
The Raiders havenít been big on trading down, or as Iíve been told by some around the league, Davis is likely to ask for the firstborn of another teamís general manager to trade down.
This yearís draft is also deep enough at receiver that trading down might not be needed to get a good, young receiver. Sweed will probably be gone in the first round and the Raiders might have to trade into the end of the first round or early second to snag Hardy.
But with the additions of Javon Walker and Drew Carter, I donít think receiver will be as pressing an issue.
Question: I have heard around that Mr. Davis still has another move up his sleeve. So my question is, what are the chances that this move can be to bring in Chad Johnson to Oaktown?
Luis; Los Angeles
Answer: First, whoever you hear things from, feel free to tell them to contact me. I need all the help I can get.
A trade for Johnson (though Iíd love it purely for locker room laughs) doesnít seem likely.
The Bengals have said they wonít trade Johnson and doing so would reportedly seriously impact their salary cap.
If thereís a ďbig moveĒ to be made, it would be trading up in the draft to bring Howie Longís son, Chris, to Oakland. That would be my guess.
Question: You do such a great job covering the Raiders. The Bee has never had objective coverage of my team before you. I moved here from Alameda in the 5th grade. 30 years ago. Wow I'm old.
If Gholston and McFadden both fall to #4, Who do you pick and why?
I think this will be the case and I love both these guys. I can't decide!
John, Citrus Heights
Answer: Thanks for the kind words. I guess that I used to proudly wear my Tim Brown jersey is impacting my coverage and making me soft.
As for the Gholston/McFadden debate, itís a tough one.
Itís hard to justify passing on McFadden. I lean toward Gholston because the Raiders havenít addressed defensive end in free agency. If Tommy Kelly was going to play DE exclusively and the Raiders added another DT, Iíd say McFadden.
But the chance to add a player that could contribute 10 sacks immediately is too much for me to pass on right now. Also, running backs can be found later in the draft, if needed.
Of course that means Gholston will be a workout wonder and McFadden will go on to the Hall of Fame.
I never claimed to know it all, I just try my best.
Question: How's it going Jason? I've only been reading your stuff for a few months, but I like what you write. What realistic hopes do you have for the Raiders making the playoffs if they draft Gholston over McFadden or the other way around? Thanks for your time.
Miguel, McChord AFB, WA
Answer: Playoffs? You wanna talk about the playoffs?
Sorry, Miguel. Any chance to play that clip only plays into my childish sense of humore.
My lack of optimism about a playoff run has nothing to do with Gholston or McFadden. Both players would provide a boost that is needed.
Gholston could step in opposite Derrick Burgess and cause havoc. McFadden, however, would seem to have a greater chance of impacting a game with his speed.
But how will the offensive line hold up? How fast will JaMarcus Russell develop? Will the middle of the Raidersí defense hold up against the run. Will the defense tackle better?
If those things donít turn out in the Raidersí favor, it wonít matter who they draft. Theyíll have a top-5 pick in 2009.
Question: I know I'm going to sound like a broken record, but whatís going on with Kiffin? There is no way a team can win if the head coach canít make a decision. Somebody has to know whatís going on. Who will develop Russell? Who will call the plays? What offense will they use? And on and on. Please help the stress is really eating at me.
David, Elk Grove
Answer: As of now, nothing is going on with Kiffin. It looks like heíll be around this season.
Kiffin will be able to make decisions, just not the big decisions regarding the coaching staff and roster that he thought he would when hired.
Someone close to the team told me Kiffin did have a lot of say in his first year with the roster. But the team won only four games and Davis was angered with Kiffinís flirtations with college jobs after a two-game winning streak that made the Raiders 4-8.
I assume the offense will look a lot like last yearís with more shots downfield to loosen up the defense and take advantage of Russellís arm. The same team that worked with Russell last year is back.
I donít know if Iíve eased any of your stress, but when I feel like that, I play video games or spend way too much time on Myspace or Facebook.
Question: When can we expect to see Lamont Jordan get released? The Raiders don't need him anymore and the combination of his salary and attitude make him not likely to get traded.
Answer: Thatís a good question that I donít have the answer to. The time to do this was last year when the team could have let him walk, gotten a look at Michael Bush and then known for sure if drafting McFadden was a necessity.
I donít know if Jordan is participating in the voluntary offseason program. But if I were him, Iíd be sitting it out and waiting for my release.
The rest of the NFL knows the Raiders would have to cut him at some point. My guess would be after the draft.
Question: Dear Jason,
I was just wondering if there has been any word from Asomugha about Hall's contract or even the addition of Hall to the secondary. I'm curious to see what Asomugha thinks his worth is in a contract and if the Raiders do plan to sign him long term or just let him play out this year. Has he signed the tender yet or is he waiting?
Michael, Long Beach
Great, a question from the city that produced Snoop Dogg and yourís truly.
I havenít spoken to Asomugha since the end of the season, but if you see him, tell him heís welcome to call or email me at anytime.
I doubt Asomugha is worried about Hallís contract. Itís just not his personality to be worried about something like that.
The Raiders do want to sign Asomugha to a new deal, but thereís no rush. Itís only March and he hasnít signed the tender, so he canít workout with the team yet because heís not under contract.
Question: With the dust settling a little, and after finally getting a quote from Kiffin, where do you see the Davis-Kiffin relationship that has been scarred with rumors?
I believe something happened, otherwise it would have only been said by one journalist, not all of them. So, is this a case of the communication game? You know, where you all stand in a room and then whisper to one person "I like trees" and by the time it gets around to the last person they say " I like Ding Dongs" or whatever.
Chris, Las Cruces, NM
Answer: Something definitely happened. But I think Kiffin and Davis will have a business relationship because they have to. It wasnít scarred by rumors, it was scarred by things that happened.
Rather than rehash everything, itís know Davis didnít like Kiffin looking at college jobs. Kiffin believed heíd have more control.
Itís not the first time Davis hasnít gotten along with a coach. But one team source said essentially you have two people that think they have all the answers and will stand their ground stubbornly.
What will fix it? A winning season would be a good place to start.
Donít forget Iím a Laker fan that thought my favorite teamís season was over with Kobe vs. the front office.
The Lakersí record has given me a case of amnesia about anything Kobe might have said last summer.
Question: With the possibility of the Raiders taking Chris Long or Gholston, would either of them be able to be placed in the sam linebacker position?
Patrick, Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Answer: I canít see either doing that. Long is built to play on the line. Though Gholston might have had some coverage responsibilities, Iím always wary of turning a DE into a LB full time.
Plus, I donít think any of us want to see the Tyler Brayton at LB experiment again with Long or Gholston.
Question: Hey Jason are the Raiders done in free agency who do they have to trade to free up some cap room. I heard Derrick Burgess or Stu (Schweigert) and (Stanford) Routt are on the trading block. What about TJ or Chad Johnson in a trade?
Answer: For the same reasons why I donít think the Bengals will trade Chad, I donít think T.J. (another Pro Bowl receiver) will be dealt.
As for the trade rumors, I donít Burgess would be traded. Why would the Raiders deplete a position they arenít deep at by dealing not only their best DE, but their best defensive lineman?
I could see Schweigert or Routt being dealt. Throw Fabian Washington into that mix, too.
A backup quarterback or another DE are the only other moves I could see the Raiders making in free agency.
Then again, the Hall trade caught me off guard.
Question: Is the last sentence in your bio right? At the very least it's awkward...shouldn't it say something like "His favorite athlete of all time is Magic Johnson, and his favorite team is the Los Angeles Lakers."
I know you didn't write and may not have even seen it.
Anyway, keep up the good work. The Hall coverage was outstanding.
John, San Francisco
Answer: Youíre right. I didnít write it, just filled in the blanks for a format. I never gave it much thought.
If Hallís coverage is better than mine, Iím sure youíll be much happier with him.