Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

February 18, 2009
Lechler's in, is Asomugha next?

Shane Lechler had plenty of reasons to want to leave Oakland.

*The Raiders have been among the worst teams in the NFL since 2003.

*Chances are the Raiders will miss the playoffs again in 2009.

*Since Jon Gruden was traded after the 2001 season, he's had five head coaches.

*The special teams coach he liked, Brian Schneider, is gone.

*He got punched in the face by defensive tackle Terdell Sands on the flight from Denver in November. And as one disgusted teammate put it the deed went "without any discipline" for Sands.

*The team was giving punters tryouts during the season, which irked Lechler. The Raiders even signed one, Ricky Schmitt, to the practice squad just in case they lost Lechler.

The move made it look the Raiders had conceded that Lechler was done in Oakland.

*Heck, Lechler might have wanted to see if there was a team willing to throw in some rounds of golf at a fancy course as part of the deal.

So how did the Raiders persuade Lechler to re-sign?

To paraphrase Riley Freeman, they paid Lechler what they owed him.

Lechler is the NFL's best punter and the Raiders made him the highest paid at the position in league history with a four-year deal worth a reported $12 million.

The pay is more than fair - and not just because of Lechler's leg.

Lechler is one of the few leaders in the Raider locker room as many teammates said in this story the end of the season.

The team needs someone to provide some measure of accountability in the locker room and Lechler is one of the few players that can do that.

But Lechler's agent, Tom Condon, isn't done dealing with the Raiders.

Condon also represents Nnamdi Asomugha.

What exactly is going on with Asomugha's negotiations is a mystery.

There's word of a radio report out of Los Angeles that a six-year deal is close to being done.

(If anyone has a link to this report, feel free to email it to me). And I've heard a deal is "close."

The Raiders aren't commenting on negotiations. But I tend to think something is in the works because there wasn't the flat-out denial that something was close to being done.

The Raiders haven't announced any cuts to create more salary cap space to put the franchise tag on Asomugha. So a deal with a big bonus that would keep Asomugha's cap number low (like Javon Walker last year) is a possibility.

And it's only a matter of time befor players like like Ronald Curry are released to create more space under the salary cap.

The Raiders have until 1 p.m., Thursday, to franchise Asomugha, which would guarantee him a salary of almost $12 million in 2009.

*The National Football Post reported the Raiders are "actively shopping' defensive end Derrick Burgess.

Burgess is entering the last year of his contract - one that he has been unhappy with for a while.

The odd twist in this story: one of the main contributors to the Post is former Raider executive Michael Lombardi.

Burgess said Lombardi promised him a new contract before the 2007 season. Lombardi was fired before the 2007 season, so Burgess didn't cash in on two stellar seasons.

Burgess went to the Pro Bowl after the 2005 and 2006 seasons when he had 27 sacks. Burgess had been bothered by injuries the last two seasons, missing eight games and totaling just 11.5 sacks.

The Raiders were 13th in the NFL with 32 sacks last season.

Burgess has been in Alameda this offseason working out instead of retreating to workout at Ole Miss, where he played college football.

--Jason Jones


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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

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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