Raiders restricted free agent Chris Carr signed an offer sheet with the Tennessee Titans today.
The Raiders have seven days to match he offer or lose Carr without compensation because he was undrafted out of Boise State.
Carr has been a backup safety and cornerback in addition to returning kicks and punts.
It would be surprising if the Raiders matched the offer, reported to be a little under $2 million.
The additions of CB DeAngelo Hall and S Gibril Wilson would put Carr's role in flux if the team decides to keep Stuart Schweigert and Hiram Eugene as backup safeties. The Raiders also have a lot of corners.
As far as return duties, the Raiders could ask Dominic Rhodes to return kicks again in 2008. Johnnie Lee Higgins was drafted last year largely for his kick and punt return skills, figures to get a look.
Could this be the move that frees up the Raiders to draft Darren McFadden?
The team announced the signing of veteran defensive end Kalimba Edwards today.
Edwards signed a two-year deal worth $5 million according to the NFL Network.
Defensive end was a pressing need. While Edwards won't be confused with Dwight Freeney, he's a step above Tyler Brayton.
And if that need is filled, the need to add a DE early in the draft isn't as big.
Then the Raiders could add this guy to the backfield.
Back to the newest Raider.
Edwards(6-6, 265) has shown the ability to be dominant, but has been dogged by inconsistency since being a second-round draft pick of Detroitís in 2002.
He signed a five-year, $20 million deal in 2006, but has only six sacks since. He tallied a career-high seven sacks in 2005 and has 26 in six seasons.
Edwards has 22 starts in 87 career games.
He played in eight games last season with six starts. He missed four because of injuries before being deactivated for the final four games of the season.
Edwards wasnít surprised to be cut by Detroit this month. By the end of 2007, he expected it after failing to become the dominant pass rusher he expected to be playing for Detroit head coach and renowned defensive line coach Rod Marinelli.
Players like Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice flourished under Marinelli.
ďI told you all at the beginning of the season what the deal was if I didnít produce, if you all remember my statements,Ē Edwards told the Detroit Free Press. ďIf I would have made the plays, Iíd still be here. I told you if I didnít make the plays, I wasnít going to be here.Ē
Now heís in Oakland.
Edwards will be a candidate to start opposite Derrick Burgess as the Raiders look for someone to replace the pressure of the edge that Chris Clemons created last season.
Jay Richardson will be in his second season, but the Raiders usually took him out in passing situations.
Edwardsí best game last year was the season opener when he sacked the Raidersí Josh McCown twice.
With Edwards signed, the Raiders might elect to pass on a defensive end in the draft and go with McFadden, the star running back from Arkansas.
Defensive end was a major need this offseason and the Raiders figured to be in position to snag two of the draftís best, Chris Long or Vernon Gholston.
But if the team is satisfied with Edwards and Richardson opposite Burgess, McFadden becomes the obvious selection at No. 4.
And in scouring the latest draft news, thereís a chance Long and Gholston could go first and second overall.
But if the Raiders end up with the best offensive player from the Southeastern Conference in consecutive drafts, that wouldnít be bad at all.
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.
The Raiders failed to re-sign Josh McCown to backup JaMarcus Russell and could use another veteran quarterback.
Quinn Gray is set to become a Texan after having visited the Raiders.
Andrew Walter is still young so investing in another young arm doesnít make a lot of sense.
Ideally Dilfer wouldnít need a lot of practice reps in the offseason, leaving time for Russell to work.
Dilfer won a Super Bowl (go ahead, blame Siragusa for taking out Rich Gannon and credit the Ravensí defense, not Dilfer) and has seen a lot in his time. That would make Dilfer someone good to have around Russell.
And if for some reason the Raiders were to trade Walter (that doesnít appear likely, but you never know) the Raiders wouldnít be a Russell injury away from playing a rookie.
Then again, the Raiders could try to lure Daunte Culpepper back into the fold with another one-year deal.
At least there wonít be the game of ďWhoís going to start?Ē in Week 1 this year.
The DeAngelo Hall trade happening today wasnít a surprise, but this was:
The coach spoke.
For the first time this offseason there was a quote from Lane Kiffin about a signing.
The Raidersí press release on Hall hit my inbox about 8:30p.m. (I was playing cards) but I was able to see this nugget from the coach (though many in the media joke these statements could be an intern just typing something that sounds good):
ďWeíre very pleased about the acquisition of DeAngelo Hall to the Raiders. This, following offseason signings of Tommy Kelly. and Gibril Wilson, we feel have one of the most talented defenses in the league.Ē
Many have wondered if Kiffin was just a puppet, sitting back while Al Davis ran the show.
Iíve received several emails asking why Kiffin has had nothing to say about Wilson, Kelly, Justin Fargas, Javon Walker, Drew Carter or new receivers coach James Lofton.
Itís a contrast from last year when Kiffin had statements on just about every major move by the team and promised to be available this offseason.
Instead he hid at the NFL Combine and has said nothing until this evening amid speculation he had no say this offseason.
Sure, this doesnít mean thatís not the case, but at least this is an acknowledgment from the organization Kiffin isn't just pouting in his office.
The Raiders also had the following quote from Hall:
ďI met with Mr. Davis, Lane Kiffin and the defensive coaches and Iím excited to be joining the Raiders. To come out here and see all of the Hall of Famers walking around, their photos posted on the wall, the championships, itís an amazing feeling to be a part of that history and be a part of making history. Iím also looking forward to playing with the talented players already there, Nnamdi (Asomugha), Stanford (Routt) and also coming in with Gibril (Wilson). I look forward to making a contribution to the success of the Raiders.Ē
I hear from D. Orlando Ledbetter and Steve Wyche, the Falcons beat writers for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Hall is a pleasure to work with and always has an opinion. Heís not malicious in his talk, Iím told, but always fun.
If thatís the case, it should be fun having Hall around.
I was supposed to attend Stanfordís pro day, but that was scrapped once it became apparent the trade for the newest Raider would go down.
DeAngelo Hall has signed his new contract and will head back to Atlanta much richer than when he arrived in Oakland on Wednesday.
Seven years, $70 million, $24.5 million guaranteed are the confirmed numbers for the deal.
I like the addition, even if it cost a lot to make it happen. Hall is a better tackler than Fabian Washington or Stanford Routt, has punt return ability, and will bring a swagger the defense lost with Warren Sappís retirement.
I also like the Raiders held on to their sixth-round pick this year and sent next yearís fifth-rounder to Atlanta along with this yearís second-round pick.
If youíve read me more than once, you know Iím a big fan of having multiple draft picks.
I never reported any rumors I heard about negotiations not working out because of one person: Al Davis.
Davis doesnít get involved in contract talks to waste his time. If heís involved, itís going to get done.
Thatís why Iím not surprised it did.
The Raiders still need to upgrade their pass rush to maximize the new addition. Thatís why Chris Long and Vernon Gholston remain realistic possibilities in next monthís NFL Draft.
Thereís also a certain running back from Arkansas that might be available, too.
I missed out on watching the Stanford players workout, but did hear some reports on how some of the Cardinal prospects performed.
WR Mark Bradford ran the 40-yard dash in under 4.5 seconds. That should help his stock a lot. Heís already a gifted athlete that showed off a 41-inch vertical leap.
LB Landon Johnson (6-0, 223) ran a 4.62 40, had a 36 1/2Ėinch vertical leap and a 10-foot broad jump.
DE Emmanuel Awofadeju (6-4, 250) posted a 4.73 40, a 38 Ĺ vertical and 10-2 broad jump.
CB Tim Sims (5-11, 191) was also timed in the 4.4 range in the 40 to go with a vertical leap of 38 Ĺ inches.
Bradfordís strong hands wouldnít be a bad option with the Raidersí fourth-round pick, if he lasts that long.
SI.com reports if a deal isnít done today, the Raiders might end talks with Hall.
If thatís true, expect talks to go long into the night.
Word is the Raiders are trying to short Hall what he wants in guaranteed money while other report the structure of the deal is at issue.
That sounds a lot like JaMarcus Russellís situation last year.
Russellís deal was completed once Al Davis took a more active role in talks. Davis is doing that so I still expect the deal to get done.
Too many people with the Raiders want Hall so I canít imagine them not coming to a compromise.
Hall arrived in Oakland assuming a deal would get done. And thereís no guarantee a team would pay him ransom reportedly offered by the Raiders (7 year, $70 million, $28.5 million guaranteed) next year in free agency.
But itís still early in the day and Davis has no problem working late into the evening, especially for a player he wants.
There are going to be whispers that the DeAngelo Hall trade wonít happen until it happens (I know, duh).
But Al Davis wants it done. Thatís why I remain convinced it will be done sometime tonight, if not tomorrow.
ďIím out here on Alís request,Ē Hall said today after landing in Oakland. ďSo weíre going to sit down and talk some more and see if we can speed it up.Ē
Hall figures to be paid nicely (seven years, $70 million, $28.5 million in the first three years according to ESPN) to play man coverage opposite Nnamdi Asomugha.
ďIt ainít hard to blow that,Ē Hall said of playing man. ďYou donít have to worry about zone, checking and all this other stuff. Get your guy. Like Prime (Deion Sanders) used to say, ĎI got my guy.íĒ
Hall is looking forward to speaking with Asomugha so they can ďcreate one of the best secondaries everĒ starting in 2008.
As of now, here is the Raidersí starting defense (assuming the trade gets done soon):
LDE Derrick Burgess
DT: Tommy Kelly
DT: Gerard Warren or Terdell Sands
RDE: Jay Richardson
SLB: Robert Thomas
MLB: Kirk Morrison
WLB: Thomas Howard
CB: Nnamdi Asomugha
CB: DeAngelo Hall
S: Gibril Wilson
S: Michael Huff
The defense would definitely be improved, but the one area the Raiders would like to address is defensive end. Kevin Carter isnít coming as he opted to return to Tampa Bay.
The team could draft a DE (Chris Long, Vernon Gholston) in the first round if it passes on RB Darren McFadden
There are still some veteran ends available, like Mike Rucker. Or if the Raiders can swindle a team like it did Houston in getting two picks for Phillip Buchanon a couple years back in a deal for Fabian Washington (itís possible since Fabian is better than Buchanon), there might be an end that can help them in second or third round.
After the trade, the Raiders would have a first round pick, but wouldnít pick again until the fourth round.
Instead I'm at the Oakland Airport, spending a couple of hours waiting to see if DeAngelo Hall comes strolling through anytime soon.
I could wait for the Raiders to finalize the trade for Hall and have a press conference. But the Raiders haven't even issued a quote about any free agent additions even though they've spent a lot of money.
There were quotes from Justin Fargas (a day late) and some pictures emailed out, but not even a boring "We're glad to have (fill in the latest Raider millionaire) on our team" from Lane Kiffin.
I won't be here all day. But since this is what I'm paid to do, I'll be here, hoping to get a word in with the Hall. I met him at the NFL Combine and he was cordial. And I'm told he's probably studying Raider history right now.
The NFL Network reports talks have stalled in the DeAngelo Hall trade. There was no reason given why. The deal was contingent on Hall agreeing to a new contract. If he does, he'll be a Raider. Basically, nothing has changed until Hall says he won't play for the Raiders or he's dealt elsewhere if another team is willing to give up a first-round pick and agree to a new deal with Hall.
Thereís nothing new on DeAngelo Hall being traded to the Raiders.
But the deal hasn't fallen apart.
ESPN is reporting what I reported Saturday, the deal is agreed upon. Hall in exchange for the Raidersí second and sixth-round draft picks this year.
Raidersí owner Al Davis wants the deal to get done, so I believe it will be completed this week once the two sides agree on a contract.
The Raiders might need to clear salary in order to sign Hall to the contract extension he desires.
The Raidersí payroll is reportedly at $130 million. That number doesnít necessarily reflect how the salary cap will be impacted because that figure includes bonuses that are likely to be earned.
But releasing players that are drawing big salaries as backups (RB LaMont Jordan, S Stuart Schweigert) or reworking current deals could be in the works now to get the Hall deal done.
Also, donít rule out the Raiders trading CB Fabian Washington or CB Stanford Routt. The favorite to be dealt might be Washington, who is talented, but some around the team question his confidence since Chad Johnson worked him over in Dec. 06 and he lost his starting job to Routt Week 3 of 2007.
Hall wouldnít come without questions.
A NFL scout I spoke with classified Hall as ďgood, not greatĒ and questioned had Hall already lost a step at only24.
Others have questioned his discipline after he got into it with coach Bobby Petrino last season.
In fairness, a lot of Falcons wanted a piece of Petrino. When I met Hall last month, he looked shorter than the5-10 heís listed at. But he was cordial and people I spoke with praised his football IQ and appreciation for the history of football.
The Raiders have liked Hall since he came out of Virginia Tech in 2004. Pairing him Nnamdi Asomugha should be fun to watch.
The Raiders drafted Robert Gallery second overall that year and Hall was picked eighth by Atlanta.
The Raiders would have three draft picks in April, assuming the deal is completed.
Oakland owns the fourth overall pick along with fourth and seventh-round picks.
As far as the draft goes, having the fourth pick means the Raiders would have to dole out a large sum for a rookie.
For a team that was reportedly too broke to pay JaMarcus Russell last year, the Raiders have spent a lot this offseason.
The Raiders wouldnít have much margin for error. Last yearís draft produced Russell, a good tight end in Zach Miller and decent seasons from DE Jay Richardson and FB Oren OíNeal.
But the Raiders need Johnnie Lee Higgins to emerge as at least a good punt returner or their third-round choices of last season would all be whiffs.
They cut DE Quentin Moses. Oakland traded this yearís third rounder to get OT Mario Henderson and expressed so much faith in his future they signed Kwame Harris.
Lane Kiffin didnít play Higgins nearly enough because he was stuck on playing Tim Dwight.
And it would be nice to see if CB John Bowie (the player taken with the Randy Moss pick) can play.
But yes, if Russell and Michael Bush become stars, I will call the Class of 2007 a good one for the Raiders.
Iím hearing the team still wants a defensive end and if Chris Long were to slip to No. 4, thereís no way the Raiders would trade out of that spot. Vernon Gholston would also be an option.
Would Darren McFadden shock me? Not completely. But DE is a bigger priority since the team only has Derrick Burgess and Richardson.
The Raiders also figure to pick up a veteran DE at some point this offseason.
The Raiders have agreed in principle to trade their 2008 second round and sixth round-draft picks to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for two-time Pro Bowl cornerback DeAngelo Hall, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
The deal is contingent on Hall agreeing to a new contract with the Raiders.
Hall was the eighth overall selection in the 2004 NFL Draft. While attending last monthís NFL Scouting Combine, Hall told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, ďSomebodyís throwing something out there,Ē about a potential deal to the Raiders.
But know this is a fact: Hall was in Alameda yesterday for a physical.
Hall expressed a desire to be traded last month while at the Combine in Indianapolis.
ESPN reported Hall is seeking a contract similar to the one signed by Asante Samuel this month.
Samuel, a two-time Pro Bowl cornerback for New England, signed a six-year, $57 million contract with $20 million guaranteed with New England.
Should the Raiders acquire Hall, it would give them two of the NFLís best cornerbacks along with Nnamdi Asomugha.
Itís also going to be one of the leagueís most expensive tandems.
If Hall gets a deal to his liking, coupled with Asomugha already being the Raidersí franchise player (about $10 million this season) that would be a lot of money in the secondary.
Not to mention the six-year, $39 million deal for safety Gibril Wilson with $16 million guaranteed.
Some are wondering how this helps the run defense.
One of the big problems with the run defense (according to coaches on staff) was poor tackling by the secondary.
Hall is a good tackler and, along with Asomugha, would help shore up the edges for the Raiders. Wilson helps with that problem at safety.
The deal isnít done, yet. But if completed, this would give the Raiders a new-millennium version of Mike Haynes and Lester Hayes Ė minus the Stickum. -- Jason Jones
There were a lot of questions about what is the deal with Lane Kiffin.
I picked one of many questions on the subject to begin this week's Q&As.
Question: Why is Willie Brown posing with the new free agents at there signing? Where is Lane Kiffin? Not even a welcome quote in the paper?
Answer: For that have forgotten, David is referring to the Javon Walker signing in which the new Raider receiver is posing with Willie Brown.
That is quite a change from last year. There were quotes from Kiffin via press releases on just about every signing last year. There hasnít been one quote from Kiffin on anyone this year.
Though the Raiders say Kiffin hasnít been stripped of any authority, it doesnít look good when there isnít even the bland ďheís a great addition to our teamĒ quote.
Kiffin has said through team reps that he wonít address every rumor, but did call a columnist to say he wasnít dancing in Indianapolis at the night spot I saw him at. I asked Kiffin if he wanted to say anything and he didnít.
Kiffinís silence only add validity to the notion he has no say in free agency, which is what I was told some time ago.
Iíve been told Kiffin hasnít been himself around the office (moping, looking sad), but of course Iím not there to see it.
Question: What are the real odds of the Raiders drafting Vernon Gholston (Especially if Chris Long is still there.)? He seems to be in the Merriman mold (And better than Long.). I also wouldnít mind seeing McFadden paired with Russell (The interesting, fun to watch pick not a need.) Thanks.
Jay, Allentown, PA
Answer: I think itís unlikely both would be available (the buzz around the NFL Combine was Chris Long would go No. 1), but if both were available, I could argue Gholston is the better pick.
As one NFL personnel person told me, Long has been coached by one of the best all his life (his father, Howie), so how much better can he get? Thatís not to say Long wonít be a good player, but the point was Long is much closer to reaching his potential than a player like Gholston.
I wouldnít be in complete shock if the Raiders drafted McFadden. I just believe history shows itís much easier to find a good running back than a great defensive end.
Question: Hi Jason, me buggin you again. The guy you met in GB at Lombardi's. Just wanted to say, that I just watched your segment on espn.com and couldn't agree with you more. I hope we take (Gholston) or trade down. I am however hoping one of them takes the QB from Boston College. By the way, you look like you dropped a few, lookin good. Hope all is well.
Brendan, Kingston, ON
Answer: For those of you who donít know about Lombardiís, itís a pretty good steakhouse in Appelton, Wis., right outside of Green Bay. Brendan had the pleasure of seeing try to eat the biggest strawberry shortcake in the world the night before the Raiders played the Packers.
Iíve been back in the gym since that fateful dessert.
Anyway, back to the draft. The Raiders will be in a good position to trade down, but history has shown the Raiders are more likely to trade up than trade down. And I donít know if thereís a franchise player like a Peyton Manning worth trading up for.
If Miami or Atlanta (St. Louis just gave Marc Bulger a lot of money) were to take BC quarterback Matt Ryan, the Raidersí pick becomes more valuable in a trade. That would mean Long, Gholston, McFadden, Jake Long or Glenn Dorsey, would fall to the Raidersí spot.
But people I spoke with donít see Ryan as first overall pick.
Question: Hi Jason-
I check your blog just about every day. I love your insight. In recent months, I've read about the suggestion that Michael Huff will be moving to FS. Now that Gibril Wilson has been signed, I've even read in your blog that Huff will probably move to FS. However, on the Giant depth chart, Wilson was listed as a FS. Would it be wise moving him to SS if he's naturally a FS? Do we now have THREE (including Stuart S) starting caliber FS's on our roster? What am I missing?
Answer: Wilson can play both safety spots. A lot of teams are going away from the traditional strong/free safety roles in favor of two versatile safeties that can perform either role.
With Huffís speed, he would seem to be a natural strong safety while Wilsonís aggressive nature and solid tackling would make him a good strong safety.
Donít be surprised if you see Rob Ryan using Huff and Wilson interchangeably.
As far as Schweigert, Iím not sure what the teamís plans are for him. Coaches werenít enthralled with his tackling and he lost his starting job to Hiram Eugene.
And Schweigert is due $2,607,500 in base salary. Thatís a lot of money for a backup safety. That could mean he might not be with the Raiders this season, if they find a cheaper alternative.
But Schweigert is key part of special teams, which might be enough to keep him on the team. His good friend, Jarrod Cooper, is also a special teams standout and backup safety.
The team will probably re-sign Coop (if they havenít already), making Schweigert expendable. But itís March, so Iím waiting to see what happens.
With the $116 million salary cap, the team might be able to keep Schweigert, though he might be happier somewhere where he would get a chance to play and where the coaches speak to him (something that wasn't happening much at the end of last season).
Players are due back in town for voluntary offseason workouts that begin next week.
The Raiders just signed another player, so there has to be a joke about knee surgery, right?
New WR Drew Carter did have a torn ACL back in 2004 and has battled injuries at times in Carolina. But signing him isnít a bad decision by the Raiders.
He has good size (6-3, 200) and reportedly has good speed. And at a position the Raiders neglected to upgrade last season, the Raiders have gone out and added two players with Javon Walker being the other.
A three-receiver setoff a healthy Walker, Carter and Ronald Curry would be more impressive than last seasonís incarnations of a three-wide set.
Because teams will have to respect Carterís speed, his presence should keep safeties honest and help the running game.
The Raiders needed to focus on getting JaMarcus Russell talent to help out. Thereís no way of knowing how these moves will turn out, but I credit the Raiders with being aggressive.
Some of the salary numbers are a high, but no one was taking a pay cut to come to Oakland.
If these moves work, how much was paid will be a moot point.
I donít think the Raiders are done in free agency. Adding Quinn Gray as a backup quarterback makes sense as does adding a veteran defensive end.
Iím still all in favor of the Raiders drafting Vernon Gholston. But reports out of Florida have veteran DE Kevin Carter making a visit to Oakland.
Carter would be a nice addition until Gholston is ready to take over full time. I just donít think that would be too long.
The combination of Derrick Burgess, Jay Richardson, Gholston and another DE would give the Raiders depth and mean Tommy Kelly could focus on playing defensive tackle.
BERKELEY --- DL Howie Long, Raider Hall of Famer, wore No. 75.
So did little-used rookie OT Mario Henderson last season.
Jim Plunkett won two Super Bowls wearing No. 16. Andrew Walter sat on the bench in that number.
Art Shell carved out a Hall of Fame career as a left tackle. As recently as last training camp, Chad Slaughter had a career as a backup tackle in the same number.
Point is the Raiders donít retire numbers (except for Jim Otto because ď00Ē canít be worn in the NFL anymore). Then again thatís more like the league retiring Ottoís number.
Just in case you didnít know, thereís a little story brewing among Niner fans about whether Isaac Bruce, who has worn 80 for more than a decade with St. Louis and Los Angeles Rams, should wear that number with the 49ers.
Of course, thatís the number worn by Jerry Rice.
Rice received permission to wear his number after he was traded to Seattle from Seahawk great Steve Largent.
ďI havenít had that conversation with Isaac Bruce right now,Ē Rice said at Calís Pro Day where he was checking out DeSean Jackson. ďI donít how the fans are going to react to it. But to be honest with you, the thing is when (Largent) told me that it was like ĎWow.í And I know what he meant to Seattle, he meant the world to Seattle. For him to do that and I just feel that itís only the right thing to do for me. But I donít know how the fans are going to react. I donít know what the 49ers are going to do.Ē
Then again, if the 49ers had retired Riceís number by now, this wouldnít be an issue. Rice said eh didnít know why his number hadnít been retired and that heíd just talked to Eddie DeBartolo about that and if the Niners would just ďdo what theyíre supposed to doĒ by Rice, this wouldnít be an issue.
But how sacred is a number? Backup tight end Tony Stewart wore Tim Browní old number last season and no one seemed to care.
Then again, this is something if teams did like the Raiders, it wouldnít be a problem. Then again, there are some numbers that should never be worn again without question.
I always assumed Riceís was one of them.
*Raiders receivers coach James Lofton and offensive quality control coach Sanjay Lal were at Memorial Stadium along with Raiders scout Jon Kingdon.
Itís no secret the Raiders need to upgrade at receiver and Cal has three pro prospects.
Barring a trade down in the first round or a trade for an additional first-round pick, Jackson isnít likely to be a Raider.
But Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan are intriguing prospects.
Hawkins played for Raider coaches at the Senior Bowl and was impressive. Heíd be a solid pick with the Raidersí second-round pick.
Jordan is JaMarcus Russellís cousin and wouldnít be a bad pickup, either.
*Lofton threw passes to the receivers. He throws a tight spiral with some zip.
ďI see you James airing that thing out,Ē yelled Chiefs coach Herm Edwards at Lofton.
If the Raiders donít sign another backup like Quinn Gray, just suit up Lofton as the third QB.
*For those of you that caught me on ESPN2ís ďFirst TakeĒ this morning, you might have been surprised I went with Ohio State DE Vernon Gholston as the Raidersí choice in the mock draft.
Hereís my thinking:
With Tommy Kelly going over to DT full time, the need there isnít as pressing. My reasoning behind Glenn Dorsey or Sedrick Ellis as the Raidersí choice previously was thinking Kelly would be a DE.
I still believe the Raiders donít need another running back.
Also, the loss of Chris Clemons shouldnít be overlooked. The Raiders have looked for an end opposite Derrick Burgess to pass rush effectively and Clemons was that guy last season. With him gone, the Raiders are especially thin at DE.
A defensive line of Burgess and Gholston with Kelly and Jay Richardson on the inside on passing downs is intriguing.
Also Gholston is a beast with great athletic ability and upside. If Jake Long is gone, I think Gholston is the guy.
For a team that was 4-12 in 2007, the Raiders continue to generate a lot of rumors and fodder for jokes.
The latest is rumors JaMarcus Russell is tipping the scale at 300 pounds.
I spoke with someone close to Russell that said thatís not true and that Russell is a lot closer to the 260 pounds or so he finished the season at than anywhere near 300.
*I caught Def Comedy Jam after watching the series finale of The Wire. Even D.L. Hughley had jokes about the Raiders.
Imagine how much talk the team would generate with a winning record.
*I attended part of the Commitment to Excellence dinner and spoke with Justin Fargas, the 2007 season winner.
Heís in good shape and ready to join his teammates for the offseason program later this month.
Fargas is also starting a scholarship program to send deserving students to his old high school, Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks, Calif.
(Note: Great athletes can get a great education for free at Long Beach Poly. Yes, that was a shameless plug).
A lot of critics have ripped the Raidersí signing of Fargas, but I think it was a good decision. Heís had injury problems in the past, but he sprained his knee last season and isnít coming off surgery.
I donít think a sprained knee is cause for concern like a torn ACL would be.
*Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was in attendance sporting his new haircut. His hair no longer is all the way on his shoulders, but should grow back in time for training camp.
*New WR coach James Lofton is still in good shape. I hear he used to run routes with the receivers in San Diego.
The Raiders have been mocked and scorned nationally for their spending in free agency.
The last two deals, WR Javon Walker and OT Kwame Harris, have raised questions just about why the Raiders are wasting money.
In case you missed it, the Raiders were reported to have given Walker a six-year deal worth up to $55 million, $16 million guaranteed.
In the case of Harris, he was reported to have received a three-year deal worth up to $16 million.
The key words, however, are "up to."
So instead of ripping the team for spending money, lets look at how these deals impact the Raiders.
From the Raidersí perspective, Harris has a one-year deal worth $3 million, with two option years that would make it a $14 million deal. If Harris reaches playing incentives, heíd earn an additional $2 million in year three.
But if things donít work out, the Raiders can part ways with Harris after 2008. But the belief is Harris, 25, can reach his potential playing for offensive line coach Tom Cable after an uneven stint with the 49ers.
The team has talked to Harris about playing left tackle, where heíd replace Barry Sims.
As for Walker, heíll receive a $6 million bonus and salary of $5 million in each of the next two seasons to account for the guaranteed amount that has been reported.
So the Raiders see it as a two-year deal for $16 million.
Chances are if Walker plays like the Pro Bowl receiver heís been, heíd get a new deal before year three, assuming all is well between the union and owners.
The NFL released the tentative order for this yearís NFL Draft.
The Raiders alternate positions with Kansas City, Atlanta and the New York Jets after the first round because all finished with 4-12 records.
Here are the current Raider picks:
First round, fourth pick
Second round, third pick,
Third round, no choice, traded to New England last year to draft OT Mario Henderson
Round four, fifth pick,
Round five, no choice, traded to Denver for DT Gerard Warren
Round six, third choice
Round seven, sixth choice
For those wondering why the Raiders havenít traded pick to get a player, you can see the why. Having already dealt two picks, it wouldnít make sense to continue trading picks and further depleting the draft class.
The best teams aren't built by trading away picks for players. The best teams draft and develop their own.
The best way to add draft picks at this point might be to trade down in the first round.
Teams arenít going to give picks for someone like LaMont Jordan when itís likely he would be cut, thus sparing the new team of paying his salary.
A deal for Andrew Walter might snag a late round pick, but heís the only other quarterback on the roster besides JaMarcus Russell.
The Raiders do have plenty cornerbacks. While there has been speculation the Raiders might trade safety Michael Huff, trading an extra corner like Fabian Washington makes more sense.
Assuming that doesnít happen, the Raiders probably need to go heavy on offense early in the draft.
Free agency has been devoted to defense thus far. If the Raiders grant Lane Kiffinís wish to pick up starters in the first two rounds, tackle Jake Long or tackle Ryan Clady could be a first-round option with a receiver coming in the second round.
*The Commitment to Excellence Award dinner honoring Justin Fargas will be hosted by Steering Committee for the Booster Clubs of the Oakland Raiders this Friday at the Oakland Airport Hilton.
Itís a black tie optional dinner.
If you want to go, call (650) 428-0810 for more information.
*The Raiders officially placed DT Warren Sapp on the reserve/retired list today.
That means he won't count against the Raiders' roster numbers, nor will the salary he won't be paid ($5.15 million). That can now go re-signing players like Jarrod Cooper.
If for some reason Sapp gets the urge to play, the Raiders retain his rights.
Josh McCown wanted the chance to start and heíll get that in Miami.
He was treated unfairly at times by Raider fans (cheering his injury was inexcusable) but never showed any ill feelings.
In fact, he was always making light of the situation.
The Raiders were interested in bringing him back, but as much as he likes JaMarcus Russell, it only makes sense that he try to find a team that could use him as a starter.
Heíd joked during the season that he might stick around for 2008 if the Raiders wanted him just not to change coordinators again.
But heís headed to a team that should improve under Bill Parcellsí watch, making having to join his fourth team in four seasons worth it.
Hereís what McCown had to say about his time in Oakland in an email:
"My time in Oakland was great, I appreciate the team and most importantly Lane Kiffin for giving me the opportunity to play. I think He can be very successful coach. I appreciate the fans and their intensity and loyalty to Raider nation. It's an experience I'll never forget. Really enjoyed working with the QBs and (Offensive coordinator Greg) Knapp and (Quarterbacks coach John) DeFlippo. I am better for having been here and around those guys. Both as a person and player."
Josh was always great to talk to and a class act. And heíll play against the Raiders this season, too.
The constraints of deadline writing usually prevent me from getting to the opposing locker room to say hello to a former Raider.
For someone so maligned in San Francisco, Kwame Harris is popular.
Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and Denver are all teams interested in the offensive tackle the Raiders hosted on Friday.
And if you thought the amount of money the Raiders paid Tommy Kelly and Gibril Wilson was excessive, the Raiders might have to come up with a nice amount of cash to land Harris and keep him away from Jon Gruden and the hated Broncos.
If Harris doesnít visit Denver or Tampa, a decision as to whether he will be the Raiders new left or right tackle could come in the next couple of days.
Though the Raiders finished sixth in the NFL in rushing, the offensive line was far from an elite group, especially in pass protection.
Is Harris the answer? No one really knows.
The Raiders still need to address depth at receiver. That is unless the Raiders are fine with Johnnie Lee Higgins and Chris McFoy along with Ronald Curry.
Since the big-name receivers not named Randy Moss aren't available, the Raiders should be able to land a receiver on the cheap.
After Saturdayís rash of signings, several receivers are signed.
The Raiders never got a chance to woo Bernard Berrian, but for the money he received from Minnesota (reportedly $16 million guaranteed) there was probably little chance heíd leave Minnesota without a deal.
Donteí Stallworth is also gone. Same goes for Devery Henderson.
There are still some receivers the Raiders could land at bargain prices. Perhaps Drew Carter or Devard Darling would fit.
Maybe new receivers coach James Lofton could coax more from former Chief Samie Parker.
Bryant Johnson is set to visit Buffalo.
Also, don't rule out Javon Walker. My colleague Matt Barrows caught up with Walker's agent who said they hadn't decided which teams to look at seriously.
With Ronald Curry the only veteran receiver on the roster, the Raiders need to add experience.
Johnnie Lee Higgins played so little as a rookie, heíll be learning a lot of the things he should have learned in 2007.
But after Saturday, it appears the big bucks have gone to the receivers that will get them Ö except for a guy named Randy Moss.
And we know how he likes his pay: Straight cash, homey.
Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.
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