Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

February 28, 2009
Chiefs, Broncos move to improve

Kansas City acquired QB Matt Cassel and LB Mike Vrabel from New England for a second-round pick.

Denver officially added S Brian Dawkins.

The Raiders (and San Diego, for that matter) remain quiet thus far.

It's the right move for the Raiders. If the Raiders won't improve by much simply by throwing money at more free agents.

Last year's splurge netted one more win than the 2007 season. And many of the players that helped the Raiders win three of their last six games weren't players that received big contracts in the offseason.

They were draft picks that were given a chance to play or veterans that had been buried on the depth chart.

So if last year taught the Raiders anything, it's being busy doesn't mean progress.

*Some have asked about new defensive coordinator John Marshall and what he might change about the Raiders defense.

One thing I've heard is you won't see nearly as much single safety looks, meaning the cornerbacks would have more help deep.

If the Raiders do that, it might be a change in scheme that could give S Michael Huff another chance at being a starter.

Huff's speed might be a lot more evident if he's covering half the field, not playing centerfield.

It doesn't sound like a blitz-heavy scheme though. So for those of you who were mad at Rob Ryan for not bringing enough extra rushers, I'm sure you'll be ready to attack Marshall.

But I'm interested to see what Marshall will do differently

--Jason Jones

February 27, 2009

Quick hits from Day 1 of free agency:

*I've been told the Raiders have some level of interest in free agent OTs Khalif Barnes and Marvel Smith.

The Raiders might benefit from the Andre Smith post-combine backlash and have him drop to No. 7 in the draft, but the need for a tackle is real.

The Raiders would have loved to replace RT Cornell Green last season but had no options on the roster. Mario Henderson is the starting left tackle for now.

Barnes (6-5, 325) is an ideal target. He's only 26 and has been a starting left tackle on good Jacksonville teams in the past.

Smith, 30, is from Oakland and might want to come home after spending his career in Pittsburgh. But Smith (6-5, 321) has battled back injuries lately. He played in just five games before landing on injured reserve last season. Smith has played in just 17 games over the last two seasons and hasn't played in 16 games in a season since 2006.

*AFC West rivals Denver and Kansas City were busy. The Broncos added six players under new coach Josh McDaniels, including two from New England.

The Chiefs acquired LB Mike Vrabel from New England for a draft pick. The Chiefs' GM is former Pats executive Scott Pioli.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier in the day that Philadelphia safety Brian Dawkins had a deal with Denver. Several reports to the contrary have come out since and no deal has been announced.

*Javon Walker is due $5 million on March 3. The money is guaranteed because it was protected against injury and Walker finished the season on injured reserve. The Raiders still could part ways with Walker, leaving DT Tommy Kelly as the only player with a big contract left from the spending spree of 2007.

--Jason Jones


February 27, 2009
Nothing happening

The Raiders haven't made headlines yet in free agency, but neither has anyone else in the AFC West.

Thus far, the only transaction of note is Kansas City trading for New England LB Mike Vrabel. S Brian Dawkins could end up in Denver, which also added RBs Correll Buckhalter and J.J. Arrington.

The Raiders already made their splash in free agency by re-signing Shane Lechler and Nnamdi Asomugha.

So the team should focus on retaining some more of its own young players and sort through whoever is left after all the big money is doled out.

*One name that I didn't yesterday that was offered a one-year tender yesterday was LS Jon Condo. By retaining Condo, Ricky Brown and Jon Alston, the Raiders have kept three important restricted free agents.

*Pewter Report, which covers the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has a report that the Raiders are shopping RB Michael Bush (with the Bucs being interested). Would Bush like a chance to go somewhere else where he wouldn't be asked to be a part-time fullback? Absolutely. But unless Raiders receive an amazing offer (first-round pick, high second-round pick, for example) don't look for Bush to be dealt. The Raiders would be crazy to deal Bush for anything less. Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden haven't proven they can stay healthy over 16 games.

*With the draft's top-rated WR, Michael Crabtree, debating what to do about his injured foot, I would not be surprised if the Raiders drafted a player from the Southeastern Conference for the third straight year.

Florida WR Percy Harvin has the type of skills and explosiveness the Raiders are sure to covet.

And if Crabtree can't produce a fast time in the 40-yard dash, his value is likely to fall in Al Davis'eyes. Harvin ran a 4.41 at the combine, among the fastest for receivers.

--Jason Jones

February 26, 2009
Free agency ... let the fun begin

FREE AGENCY HAS STARTED!!!!!!

OK, calm down.

Here are some things the Raiders need to do this time around.

*Do not overspend for a wide receiver:

The Raiders have young players that showed promise in Johnnie Lee Higgins and Chaz Schilens. Could the team use help? Sure. But there isn't a "No. 1" receiver available this year or anyone worth top-receiver money.

*Don't overspend to add help on the offensive line: The top-2 tackles - LT Jordan Gross (Carolina) and RT Vernon Carey (Miami) re-signed with their teams. Pittsburgh put the franchise tag on Max Starks. With the seventh overall pick in this year's draft, the Raiders should be able to land a quality prospect at tackle. The Raiders need help at guard with Cooper Carlisle a free agent, too. But history has shown a team that relies on a zone-blocking scheme doesn't need to spend a lot to find linemen who can be successful.

*Look for help at tight end: A tight end that could help in pass blocking and free up Zach Miller would be good. If he has good hands, it would also give the offense more flexibility.

*Re-sign their own key players: Restricted free agent LBs Ricky Brown and LB Jon Alston both signed qualifying offers today.

LB Isaiah Ekejiuba and C Jake Grove are unrestricted free agents the Raiders need to seriously consider bringing back, too.

--Jason Jones

February 26, 2009
Nothing new so far

No news so far with the Raiders in terms of free agent re-signings.

But just because a player isn't released tonight by 9 p.m. for the start of free agency doesn't mean he's safe.

The Raiders waited until May 20 of last year to cut Stuart Schweigert. LaMont Jordan was still a Raider until July 25. In both cases, the Raiders were hoping to receive some compensation via trade.

So when it comes to players like Michael Huff, expect the Raiders to try to get a draft pick for them if they decide to let them go.

But as for now, there's nothing to report.

*A couple of reports came out that Jerry Porter won't be returning to Oakland. I never believed that for one big reason: there aren't very many (if any) people associated with the Raiders that like Porter.

--Jason Jones

February 25, 2009
What's up with Walker?

I know this is going to look weird in print.

But (maybe?) the Raiders should keep Javon Walker (for now?).

Yes, that was an intentionally week declaration.

Logic might dictate Walker should have been one of the first players released this mont. But I've contended for some time Walker's release was no lock, considering he would receive a $5 million (injury protected) bonus next month.

So at the very least, it might be worth all the money he's already received ($12 million) along with that $5 million to at least see how he heals from his broken ankle.

Free agency starts tomorrow at 9 p.m., West Coast time. So Walker should know his fate within the next 36 hours.

--Jason Jones

February 24, 2009
Big O's turn to be the main lead blocker

Oren O'Neal must be feeling better.

That's the best way to explain the Raiders decision to release fullback Justin Griffith. It's another nod to the Raiders commitment to developing its young players.

O'Neal was lost to a major knee injury during the preseason. If not for the injury, O'Neal might have eventually become the starting fullback.

Former coach Lane Kiffin indicated the injury could be career threatening, but O'Neal has been rehabbing at the team facility this offseason and believes he can play this season.

O'Neal was Kiffin's choice to finish off games because of his punishing blocking style -- think Raiders at Kansas City, 2007 -- and figures to be play a big role in the power-running style owner Al Davis wants to see more of.

*The Raiders also released tackle Kwame Harris in a move that was expected since last December.

Harris lost his job as the starting left tackle for repeated penalties and struggles in pass protection to Mario Henderson for the last three games of the season.

In all, the Raiders save $8.3 million against the 2009 salary cap with the moves. Harris was due a $6 million bonus.

Harris is the latest player from last year's group of free agents that have been dumped joining DeAngelo Hall, Gibril Wilson and Kalimba Edwards.

*There are a couple of reports that the Raiders will address their need for depth at wide receiver by re-signing Jerry Porter.

Porter was more than happy to get out of Oakland last year and was supposed to be a big pickup for Jacksonville.

Porter was dogged by injuries and released after just one season in which he made $7.5 million, but had only 11 catches for 181 yards and a touchdown.

Porter only had worse seasons as a rookie and in 2006 when he was stuck on the bench in a feud with coach Art Shell.

Porter was a second-round pick of the Raiders in 2000. His return would definitely qualify for the "Anything is Possible" file.

And yes, I'm ready for the "We hate Porter" emails.

--Jason Jones

February 23, 2009
Kelly will be around in 09

Tommy Kelly will get another chance to live up to his record contract.

According to Profootballtalk.com, Kelly had a $4.5 million roster bonus converted to a guaranteed payment to lower his hit against the salary cap.

Kelly's base salary for 2009 is $2.5 million.

The Raiders signed Kelly to a seven-year deal worth up to $50.5 million before the start of free agency last year. The deal was a record for defensive tackles and included $18.125 million guaranteed.

The Raiders thought Kelly might be able to produce double digits in sacks coming off ACL surgery that ended his 2007 season.

Kelly tied his career high in sacks in 2008. But that total amounted to 4.5 sacks.

"We'll get a better thing this year," said Raiders owner Al Davis of Kelly earlier this month. "We didn't get as much as we hoped for last year. He did come through the year without injury. It usually takes a year to come around from that thing."

--Jason Jones


February 22, 2009
Walker's days numbered?

Of all the 2008 signings in free agency, Javon Walker's deal always seemed most likely to flame out.

Nevertheless, the Raiders paid $11 million up front to secure his services even though:

*He was coming off an injury plagued 2007 season after missing all of 2005 with a knee injury.

*Walker's best season was in 2004.

Things got worse for Walker when he was robbed and beaten in Las Vegas last June.

Then he offered to retire during training camp. Raiders owner Al Davis convinced him not to quit.

Now it looks like as if Davis and the Raiders are quitting Walker -- with Walker possibly collecting $17 million from the team -- or about $1.13 million for each of his 15 catches as a Raider.
NFL.com's Adam Schefter reports Walker's release could happen soon, even though it would cost the Raiders $14.16 million against the salary cap./

Walker made $1 million in base salary for the 2008 season and is due an injury-protected $5 million bonus March 3.

Walker missed eight games because of injuries and finished the season on injured reserve because of a broken ankle.

Walker is due $4 million in base salary this season.

--Jason Jones

February 21, 2009
The Raider youth movement

"Tom (Cable) tried to start breaking it in but there was resistance from certain assistants and they're not here. There was resistance ... The idea was to go young because we were young. We had good young players. Not everyone believes our players are good."

--Raiders owner Al Davis on wanting to see young players get on the field.

Tyvon Branch: Are you going to be healthy after shoulder surgery to participate in offseason workouts?

Trevor Scott: Can you become a consistent pass rusher?

Chaz Schilens and Johnnie Lee Higgins: Can either of you ready to be "the man" at receiver?

Well all these young players better get ready.

The Raiders decision to release Gibril Wilson, Kalimba Edwards and Ronald Curry had a lot to do with money - the Raiders saved $6.2 million against the salary cap with the moves.

But these moves are also a nod to the young players the Raiders have on the roster. (If the Raiders don't stunt their development by bringing in veterans to take their jobs).

But Friday's moves give some young players a chance to assert themselves.

Branch was Wilson's backup at strong safety before a shoulder injury ended his season. Branch has elite speed that would likely have been used a lot on special teams with Wilson still on the roster.

Branch said recently his recovery from shoulder surgey is progressing well. So a healthy Branch might be the starting strong safety.

Scott was the third option as a pass rusher at defensive end when Derrick Burgess and Edwards were healthy.

Scott totaled five sacks as a rookie to tie Edwards for the team lead. That figure should improve as Scott adds some weight and with more playing time.

The Raiders have struggled to find a complement to Burgess for some time, but it looks as if Scott has that job.

Davis and Cable have pointed to the play of Schilens and Higgins as examples of the team's bright future.

Curry's role was limited last season so the transition won't be as dramatic. Between Curry's struggles early and coaches going out of their way to call him slow, Curry's release was far from a surprise and Curry is happy to have a chance to move on.

So whom else can the Raiders release to make room for a young player to grow?

*Tackle Kwame Harris is a candidate to be released because the Raiders would receive a lot of cap relief and he'd already lost his starting job to Mario Henderson, a third-round draft pick in 2007.

*If the Raiders want to make the offense the Darren McFadden-Michael Bush Show, they'd have to let go of Justin Fargas. Until McFadden proves he can stay healthy, that's not an option.

Then again, the Raiders are fond of Louis Rankin, so that's something to keep tabs on.

*Depending on what the Raiders decide to do with Javon Walker, he might be someone the Raiders look to release or come to an injury settlement if his recovery from an ankle injury is slow.

But the message is clear. Youth will be served with the Raiders.

And it's the right move.

--Jason Jones

February 20, 2009
Gibril, Curry, Kalimba are released

One year after making him the third highest safety in the NFL, the Raiders have released Gibril Wilson.

The Raiders also released defensive end Kalimba Edwards and wide receiver Ronald Curry.

The Raiders had no explanation as to why Wilson was cut, but after signing Nnamdi Asomugha and Shane Lechler to big deals, the team needed to do somethign to create more salary cap-space.

Oddly enough, when DeAngelo Hall was waived last year, he called Wilson. Wilson said he thought Hall called to say he'd heard Wilson was being cut.

Of all the money the Raiders threw at players last offseason, Wilson appeared to be the one that had some level of success.

He finished second on the team with 129 tackles to go with two interceptions and 1.5 sacks.

Wilson's deal was for six years and worth up to $39 million with $16 million in guarantees.

This move probably means Michael Huff won't get his wish of being released. The team could put Tyvon Branch at strong safety if they don't want to put Huff back in that spot.

Edwards had five sacks, but none in his last six games he played in.

Curry has long expected to be released after going from starter to special teams player, to inactive last season.

I'll have more on this later.

--Jason Jones

February 19, 2009
Details of Nnamdi's big deal

Here are the official stats on the Nnamdi Asomugha deal (courtesy of his publicity firm):

*Two years, $28.5 million. The total amount is guaranteed.

*The Raiders hold an option for a third year at $16.8 million or the amount of the franchise tag amount for quarterbacks, whichever sum is greater.

*So at the very minimum, Asomugha would make $45.3 million over three years.

*Asomugha is now the highest paid defensive back in NFL history.

*His $14.25 average annual salary for the first two year tops Peyton Manning's $14 million average.

And Raider fans, you aren't the only ones that like Nnamdi.

Here's who Asomugha spent some time with last Saturday:

nnamdi clinton1.bmp

February 19, 2009
Nnamdi gets paid ... a lot

The Raiders agreed to a three-year deal with cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, making him the highest paid defensive back in NFL history.

NFL.com reports the deal is worth a minimum of $45 million and could max out at $50 million with $28.5 million guaranteed in the first two years.

Other reports have Asomugha's guarantee at $26 million.

Per NFL.com, if the Raiders choose to keep Asomugha for the third year of the deal he would be paid the average of the top five highest-paid cornerbacks or $16.875 million -- whichever is greater.

If the Raiders don't want to pay Asomugha that much, he would become a free agent and the Raiders could not use the franchise tag on him.

The Raiders franchised Asomugha last year, something Asomugha did not want this year.

Asomugha's new agent, Tom Condon, who also negotiated the deal for Raiders punter Shane Lechler, brokered the deal.

While there have been conflicting reports over how much Lechler will make, his deal is a record for punters.

Lechler is expected to make more than $3 million a year.

The Raiders have no re-signed their top-2 free agents without having to use the franchise tag.

This didn't seem possible at the end of the season.

Lechler appeared intent on leaving, having grown tired of losing.

Asomugha seemed destined to be franchised for a second straight year after failing to agree on a long-term deal last year.

The Raiders had until 1 p.m. today to use the franchise tag.

But the Raiders and Condon were able to get this done.

And as a result, an even greater leadership void in the locker room wasn't created.

Asomugha established himself as the best cornerback in foootball last season and continued to evolve as a leader.

Asomugha, in many ways, became a lot like Charles Woodson.

He didn't hesitate to give an honest opinion. Like Woodson, he didn't sell a company line that things weren't that bad when everyone could see otherwise.

He openly questioned the dedication of his teammates and no one dared challenge him publicly because Asomugha's work ethic is unquestioned.

Neither is his value to the Raiders now.

--Jason Jones

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


February 18, 2009
Lechler is staying

The Raiders have re-signed All-Pro punter Shane Lechler .

It was an offer Lechler couldn't refuse.

The team confirmed it's the richest contact ever given to a punter. NFL Network reports it is a four-year deal worth $12 million.

--Jason Jones

February 17, 2009
CJ's big raise

After making $520,000 in base salary last season, cornerback Chris Johnson will make $2 million in base salary in first year of his new contract.

Johnson signed his four-year deal last week.

Johnson is scheduled to earn $2.6 million, $3.2 million and $3.5 million in base salary in the following three seasons.

Not bad considering Johnson, 29, was out of the NFL in 2006.

Johnson took over for DeAngelo Hall, who was waived after eight games. Hall made $8 million for his eight games.

*The economy has hit the newspaper business. So while Matt Barrows spent a few days at the Senior Bowl, there will be no NFL Combine for me this year.

But here's what the Raiders should be looking for this week while I drive myself crazy by taking the time to watch college kids sprint, jump and lift weights on television.

Offensive linemen

The Raiders need help at tackle. It wouldn't surprise me if the Raiders try to find a starting right tackle early in the first two rounds of April's draft, assuming Mario Henderson isn't moved to that spot.

Raiders coach Tom Cable wasn't happy with how Cornell Green was playing at various points near the end of the 2008 season, but Cable said he had no other options.

The team also needs to look at the interior of the offensive line. Right guard Cooper Carlisle and center Jake Grove are free agents.

At center, the Raiders could go with John Wade, who is due to make $1.5 million in 2009 and groom a center to take over in 2010.

Wide receiver

There's Chaz Schilens, Johnnie Lee Higgins and ...?

There's no telling what the Raiders will do with Javon Walker. Ronald Curry and his $3.5 million base salary could be released any day now.

Linebacker

Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison are both in the last year of their contracts. So the Raiders, who already had depth issues at linebacker, might need to find the eventual replacement to one or both.

Cornerback

Stanford Routt is in the last year of his deal. And barring a long-term deal, Nnamdi Asomugha could be franchised this week and leave after 2009.

--Jason Jones

February 12, 2009
Surgery news

Two bad feet and a bum shoulder sum up Darren McFadden's rookie season.

Well, we all knew about the feet. The shoulder is something new.

The Raiders confirmed a report from the San Francisco Chronicle that McFadden had "minor" surgery on his left shoulder.

Tom Cable was asked repeatedly if McFadden was healthy when the No. 4 overall pick in last year's NFL Draft was grossly underused during several games.

Cable said injury wasn't the reason for not playing McFadden more, but that's the only logical reason the team's most dangerous offensive player saw the field as often as me for long stretches.

McFadden missed three games because of turf toe.

The shoulder injury, according to the Chronicle, happened Week 2 at Kansas City. That's also the game in which he suffered his first toe injury.

The shoulder injury might explain why Cable chose to Justin Fargas run most of the time. McFadden had 10 or more carries only five times and ran for more than 100 yards just once - the second game of the season.

McFadden finished with 499 rushing yards and four touchdowns as a rookie, far below preseason expectations, some that had McFadden earning Rookie of the Year honors (including yours truly).

That total was sixth among rookie running backs.

*JaMarcus Russell had surgery to remove bone chips in his right ankle last week. Raiders owner Al Davis mentioned last week that Russell might need surgery.

*The Chronicle reports cornerback Chris Johnson has agreed to a four-year deal for "starter's money."

I'm assuming that starter's money is still less than what the man Johnson replaced made. DeAngelo Hall made $8 million for his eight games with the Raiders before being waived.

Davis said if it weren't for Hall, the Raiders would have beaten Denver in the season opener, which the Raiders lost 41-14.

--Jason Jones

February 12, 2009
Raiders 50th season logo

The Raiders have released the logo to celebrate 50 seasons of football which you can see by clicking on the link below.

Raiders 50th Logo1.pdf

You can read more here.

--Jason Jones

February 11, 2009
Catching up with Nnamdi

After hanging out with the NFL's elite, Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha will sit on a panel with former President Bill Clinton and actor Matthew McConaughey.

Asomugha will join them as part of the closing panel of The Clinton Global Initiative University meeting at the University of Texas in Austin.

Asomugha is the only athlete on the panel.

Asomugha does a lot of work with youth in Oakland and will stress giving back and philanthropy in everyday life to crowd of more than 1,000.

"I don't know if I've spoken to that many people," Asomugha said. "I've spoken to 800, about 700 before."

Asomugha still plans to continue his spring-time college tour with youth from the Oakland area. Last year's trip was in the New England area.

Here's more from Asomugha

*On waiting to be franchised again:

"I think they have until the 19th to tag me and if they do it, it'll probably be the last second," Asomugha said.

Asomugha said he was given the news last year in a phone call from Al Davis the night before he was tagged.

Asomugha didn't sign the franchise tender until the start of training camp last year.

His contract negotiations will be handled by Tom Condon, who Asomugha hired in December.

*Tom Cable is Asomugha's fifth head coach with Raiders since being drafted in 2003. Being in Hawaii helped Asomugha not to become wrapped up in hoopla that is a Raiders coaching search.

"I pretty much know the process now," Asomugha said. "You really don't get too involved into it. I made that mistake the first couple of times and my head was spinning. The last couple of times I stayed away."

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning told Asomugha he thought Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride would get the job. Neither realized Cable had already been named coach a day earlier.

In fact, Asomugha only knew that Cable was the head coach and Lionel Washington was the new defensive backs coach before today.

*Asomugh said 20-25 friends and family made the trip. He added Shane Lechler and Derrick Burgess "downplayed" how much fun he'd have.

Asomugha said practices were only about 45 minutes long and that the game itself felt more like a practice.

And it didn't take long for Asomugha to fit in with the NFL's best players.

"I think the first minute I was there, it was surreal a little bit," he said. "But once you start talking to them and they're the one's praising you and you're like you know what? I guess I do fit in."

--Jason Jones

February 10, 2009
New QB could hurt Walter on depth chart

Raiders quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett has a player he knows pretty well now that quarterback Bruce Gradkowski has been claimed off waivers from Cleveland.

Gradkowski, 26, was a sixth-round draft pick from Toledo in 2006 of Tampa Bay.

Hackett was the quarterbacks coach in Tampa Bay from 2005-07. Gradkowki passed for 1,661 yards with nine touchdowns and nine interceptions as a rookie in 2006, but hasn't played much since.

Gradkowski's familiarity with Hackett doesn't threaten JaMarcus Russell, but could mean a lot to Andrew Walter.

Walter was the quarterback of the future three years ago. He was the No. 3 quarterback by the end of last season with Tom Cable citing physical and confidence issues for the decision.

If Gradkowski can win the trust of Hackett and Cable, Walter could be the third quarterback in 2009.

Gradkowski has appeared in six games since starting 11 as a rookie. He started one of two games he played for Cleveland.

Gradkowski completed seven of 21 passes for 26 yards with three interceptions for Cleveland after beginning the season with the St. Louis Rams.

*The Raiders haven't announced any cost-saving moves to the roster yet. Free agency starts Feb. 27, so the Raiders have some time.

But the speculation that Terrell Owens (who is still a Dallas Cowboy) will land in Oakland has already begun.

Owens' reputation as a disrupter of team chemistry would mean little to Al Davis because he believes no one complains aobut chemistry as long as the team in winning.

Things would be great with Owens as long as the Raiders were winning games. But it's not realistic to expect the Raiders to be an elite team in 2009.

And the combination of an unhappy star receiver and a lot of losses sounds a lot like Randy Moss' two years in Oakland.

Anquan Boldin
might be a good fit in Oakland because he's intent on not returning to Arizona, according to reports.

The Raiders gave up a second-round pick last year (and a fifth-round pick this year) to use DeAngelo Hall for eight games.

But Boldin is sure to come at a higher price and would want a contract that would make him among the highest-paid receivers.

The price of signing Boldin won't be enough to scare Davis away from making a move. Whether Davis wants to possibly part with the seventh-overall pick is another question.

--Jason Jones

February 10, 2009
Staff complete

"The offensive line coach hasn't been hired cause that's where I live. And I have a plan for that. It'll be done here shortly. And out of respect to it, we'll get it done and when it's time, we'll announce it."

Raiders head coach Tom Cable

That plan was Jim Michalczik, who was busy taking part in National Letter of Intent day as the University of Washington's offensive coordinator the day Cable made that statement.

Michalczik was announced as the new offensive line coach Monday, bolting on new coach Steve Sarkisian and the Huskies.

You remember Sark, the former Raider quarterback coach that backed out of becoming the head coach in 2007, which led to Lane Kiffin getting the job.

While it doesn't have the same dramatics of James Cregg bolting after a game to work for Kiffin.

Michalczik had been at Cal (Go Bears!) the last seven years and was the assistant head coach, co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach last season at Cal.

This completes Cable's staff unless he adds some quality control assistants.

*Didn't post this earlier because I was on the way to Monday Night Raw. LBs Ricky Brown and Jon Condo, WR Drew Carter and S Tyvon Branch were among the players that attended.

And I have to assume there were a lot of 49er fans in attendance considering I heard some boos when the Raiders were introduced.

--Jason Jones


February 9, 2009
Release date

Today is the first day teams can begin releasing veterans and save some money.

The Raiders began this process last season when they cut DeAngelo Hall.

Don't expect that to be the only move.

A few candidates to be let go at some point this offseason are:

WR Ronald Curry: After he was benched, Curry said he expected to be let go during the offseason because of his salary and the Raiders wanting to play younger wide receivers. It would be the right thing to allow Curry to walk.

S Michael Huff: If the Raiders were willing to dump Hall after eight games for not working out, it's hard to imagine them holding on to their first-round pick from the 2006 NFL Draft. He was relegated to playing special teams much of last season and isn't a favorite of owner Al Davis. After one season, Davis had already begun distancing himself from Huff, implying the decision to go with Huff in the draft was Art Shell's not his. And the team liked the job Hiram Eugene did in replacing Huff.

T Kwame Harris: The Raiders went out of their way to let reporters know Harris, who signed a three-year deal last year that his contract was designed to allow the Raiders to let him go after a season if things didn't work out. His being benched for Mario Henderson would seem to indicate things didn't work out.

Many fans are clamoring for WR Javon Walker to be on this list. I'm not convinced Davis is going to let Walker go yet. Walker being injured last season could give him another season. And prior to his injury, coach Tom Cable said Walker had "stepped his game up."

And I'd be shocked if DT Tommy Kelly didn't return (even if a lot of fans want him gone, too). He was coming a major knee injury and should be given a chance to see if he does like many players and show a lot of improvement in his second season back from the injury.

--Jason Jones

February 6, 2009
Raider free agents

Thanks to the folks at Pro Football Weekly, here's the list of Raider free agents.

Unrestricted

QB Marques Tuiasosopo
TE Tony Stewart
WR Drew Carter
WR Ashley Lelie
C Jake Grove (can void the final year of his contract to become a free agent this year)
RG Cooper Carlisle
DT William Joseph
LB Isaiah Ekejiuba
LB Sam Williams
CB Nnamdi Asomugha
CB Chris Johnson
CB/KR Justin Miller
S Rashad Baker
P Shane Lechler

Restricted
LB Ricky Brown
LB Jon Alston

Considering how glowingly Raiders owner Al Davis spoke of Chris Johnson, I can't imagine the Raiders not making a decent offer that would keep him in Oakland. Without Johnson, the Raiders would have Stanford Routt to pair with Nnamdi Asomugha, who is probably going to receive the exclusive franchise tag again.

And unless the Raiders have a lot of faith in CB John Bowie, Johnson should be back.

A big-money offer is probably going to be needed to keep Lechler around. I also expect the team would try to keep Rashad Baker and Isaiah Ekejiuba.

Though the team gets S Tyvon Branch back, Baker proved valuable. The team is likely to cut S Michael Huff, something he also expects. Branch's return could mean the Raiders would let Justin Miller walk with little resistance.

*The San Francisco Chronicle ran the story about the fight on the team flight between DT Terdell Sands and Lechler following the team's Nov. 23 win at Denver.

I'd heard about the scuffle that was fueled by alcohol consumption before the flight, as the story was told to me.

I don't think Sands hitting Lechler would be enough for him to leave. Players fight other players more often than you think.

*Many are disappointed RB Justin Fargas would allow himself to be filmed in the presence of marijuana, but this shouldn't tarnish his reputation.

Fargas isn't taking part in the "Smoke-a-thon" and he wasn't hosting a Cheech and Chong session at his house since Yukmouth didn't bring his "turkey bag" of chronic to Fargas' home, even if Yukmouth says it was Fargas' house.

Another lesson is, watch who you let bring a video camera around you.

--Jason Jones


February 5, 2009
Not Fargas' house

Not that this makes Justin Fargas' appearance in Yukmouth's video promoting the "Smoke-a-thon" much better, I am told that contrary to Yukmouth's declaration, he was not filming at Fargas' home.

The video has since been removed from the web site.

Yukmouth shows off a bag of what he says is marijuana and is smoking in the video.

--Jason Jones

February 5, 2009
NFL on the Fargas video

Here's the answer from NFL spokesman Greg Aiello via email as to whether appearing in a video where somone has marijuana constitutes a violation of the drug policy:

Evaluations of players by the program's advisors are confidential.

So unless Justin Fargas has a prior violation and the league deems Yukmouth being at Fargas' home with marijuana a violation, nothing is likely to be made public on the issue.

Players can violate the policy without testing positive on a drug test.

--Jason Jones

February 5, 2009
Fargas and Yukmouth

I followed a link on Profootballtalk.com to worldstarhiphop.com where there's a video that briefly features Raiders running back Justin Fargas with rapper Yukmouth.

(By the way, if you're not a big fan of profanity, you won't enjoy watching the video).

And if you know anything about rap music, you know he likes to (as Josh Howard would say) partake of the marijuana.

Yukmouth shows up at Fargas' home and declares that Fargas doesn't smoke before declaring his affinity for marijuana and showing off a near-empty bag of marijuana.

What does this mean? Who knows?

I'm waiting to hear back from the NFL and I'll check with the Raiders. I can't see this being too big of a deal, but I've been wrong before.

--Jason Jones

February 4, 2009
More from the coach and the owner

Ask and you shall receive.

Here's more form Wednesday's news conference with Tom Cable and Al Davis.

Davis was emphatic in stating Cable hired all of his own coaches. Cable said the Raiders could be a playoff team (even though he got on my bad side by admitting he's a Boston Celtics fan).

But enough from me, here's Cable and Davis.

Why did the process take so long?

Al Davis: "Three things manifested itself. One, it was a process. And I really did consider another individual really strongly right up to the end, and that individual and Tom were competing. When I met with Tom for approximately four hours, and he outlined what he saw for the future of the Raiders, the staff, the players, and all those things, he told me what kind of staff he'd like, and I said to him, `Can you get that kind of staff?' He said, I can get that kind of staff. I said, you go out, and get that kind of staff, bring them back here, you tell me that these are the people you want on your staff, and we'll hire them. Let me see what you can do about putting a staff together. That's No. 1. No. 2, I gave the same consideration to the other individual. He went out, with the idea of putting a staff together, to bring back that would be the staff of the Raiders, and Tom was very, very strong on who he wanted to keep from the old organization, and from the new organization. No. 2, unfortunately, Tom suffered a very serious blow while this process was going on. His dad passed away. So we had a hiatus of about a week and a half, where all we did was talk on the phone occasionally, but he had things to do in Merced and in Seattle, and in Georgia, and that held it up too. And No. 3, the thing that held it up was the Super Bowl. I could have done it last Thursday, but I didn't want it to interfere with the Super Bowl and I felt this was the best time for everyone, I didn't want to take you from the Super Bowl, or take him still from the things he had to do, he had to be in Atlanta, Georgia, for a couple of days. These are the things that go on with the process, and it was a battle, down to the end, and I finally made a decision, that he could take this team, he showed me in those last couple of games, there were two things that came to my mind. I wanted to play the young players. All year long, I wanted to play the young players. In the last two games, Higgins and Schilens accounted for five touchdowns. Higgins and Schilens accounted for five touchdowns. That was about the only time, that someone started to play those two guys regularly, where they could show what they could do where they could run and show their speed. Higgins had other opportunities, but it was great, if you take five touchdowns in two games, and even whittle it down to two touchdowns in 16 games apiece, we've got tw o guys who are catching eight touchdowns apiece. I think the youth of this team, if you really follow it and watch it, has really got a chance to be pretty good, and he believed in the youth and played them, and showed us what they could do those two young guys, for just as an example.

"He hired every assistant coach. I did not hire one other than to talk to some of them about money and to talk to some of them about philosophy. I'm not sure I agree with everyone but I think it's a helluva staff. He hired every single coach. I just want you to know that. And I want the few doubters in here who think I hired the assistant coaches, that's not true. I never hired Lane Kiffin's. I never hired Art Shell's. on this one, I listened to him and the guys he had in mind were pro guys, people with experience and people who could teach."

How can a coach hire a staff if they don't have the job?

Davis: "Well they do it. That's all that goes on in pro football. If you think that Todd Haley didn't hire his staff last week. If you think 90 percent of them don't, then you don't know a thing about football."

How does that work when you have two candidates?

Davis: "They can't hire people but they can tell us who they want, bring them in and make sure that we can get them. Because a lot of times they say they can get this guy. There were two guys that both of them, both of them picked. But what they wanted was responsibility that neither Tom, or his other fellow would give them, which was playcalling. Tom called the plays the last few games of the season. If you remember he took it away from Greg Knapp. And it's pretty simple, that's the way it's done. Whether you believe it or not. I'm shocked that you would ask that question but that's the way it's been. Guys are told 'you've got a shot at this job' and immediately what are they doing? Calling around trying to get a staff together. Who will join them, who won't join them and things like that. It's always worked that way."

Can you say what the timeline was with Tom and the mystery candidate

Davis: "Well I think they were in competition a long while, a long while up until about last Thursday."

Why were you acting like the head coach all last month if you weren't the
head coach yet?

Cable: "First of all, when the season was over, we talked briefly about what the process would be. There would be some time to reflect, and we both did that.
We talked initially about the fact that I wanted to be the head coach, and then an unfortunate time. Lost my father, and Al and the organization were gracious (to let me) handle those things, get through those things. Clearly for me, it started with the Senior Bowl, being down there. If you know the process in this league, that's a very important time for guys to talk to prospective coaches, position coaches, coordinators, and at the same time it gave me the opportunity to go down and look at who was in that game in terms of talent for the new year. So I was able to kind of kill two birds with one stone, get a lot done in terms of talking to coaches, assistant coaches. I had had a chance just before that to talk to assistant coaches who were on the staff already, so I had a plan. I had a plan about if the opportunity came to me, where I would move and what I would bring to the table, so it really was just the process of getting through it, and then of course last week was just to put the final things together as we met again and talked about it all, and here we are."

What'd you learn last year from all those peaks and valleys of last season?

Cable: "The first thing that really jumped out at me, I thought the first five or six weeks were really trying. There were some issues, we had to release some players, we had to change some mind-sets, we had to get some people on the field that weren't on the field at the time. I thought the last six weeks we became a very competitive football team, a team that went 3-3 in the last six weeks, really should have beaten Kansas City at home, two poor drives I felt on each side of the ball, but I felt like this: I felt like the attitude was going the right way. I felt like they were starting to play for each other. I felt like whatever negative things or whatever had gone on was going away, that we were becoming a team, that we were becoming someone that wants to work for each other, that realizes it's not all about stressing over winning and losing. Stress about being your best every day, and when you go to work every day, and you leave work every day and you know you did your best and you've given your best and you do the same thing on Sunday, you got a chance to win football games. You got a chance to be a playoff team, to win your division, and ultimately to become a world champion. That's the foundation that was laid, so the peaks was probably at the end of it, the valleys were probably at the beginning, and it was climbing out of it and climbing out of it, but we moved in the direction we wanted to go. As I said when this became an interim job in October, this is my dream. This is my team growing up. There's not anything in the world I'd rather be doing. I'm honored to have the opportunity. I'm very honored by what this football team did in the last six weeks of the regular season and where we have grown as a football team, and I know right now where we need to go to get to the playoffs."

Why do you think players responded to you late in the season?

Cable: "I think first and foremost, they're going to know where I stand, and I'm going to tell them the truth. I'm going to love how they work. I'm going to love them for that. We go in the locker room on Sunday, it's all of us against whoever they put out there. I think that mentality, about taking care of each other and coaching for them, with them playing for us and vice versa, all of that is so important, but it don't work, it don't work unless it's all for one, and I think ultimately I brought that to them. Hopefully they know I give a damn about them, and as we continue to get better, if you look at games, I'm just going back to the Buffalo game, to the Miami game, to the Carolina game here, you could kick out three or four games right away that if we had that bond really where I think it's come to, and it's got to get better, no question, but if we'd have had that in place at those times, we'd have won those football games, and that's the difference of winning and losing in the National Football League. We all got talented players, and we've got a good young football team. It's got to mature. It's got to grow up. It's got to get some guys to improve fundamentally ... if you put three or four more wins on our record from last year, I think we win the division, that's how close we are. But make no mistake, all that talent and that big arm JaMarcus has got, and the fast legs that Darren's got, and all the pass-rushing that Burgess has got, it don't make nothing. It don't make no difference if you can't put it out there for each other with a passion and a love for each other. That's how you win football games."

Is Cable calling the offensive plays this year?

Davis: "That's up to Tom. Tom was the one. I know what you read, that I instructed Greg (Knapp) to give it up, although I didn't mind Greg giving it up, to be factual. Tom took it over. I wanted to see what Tom could do. That's what he was there for, he was the interim coach. We got a bad break when that one coach (assistant offensive line coach James Cregg) left us with two weeks to go on a contract, two games to go, the guy who went down to Tennessee. In a way it helped us because it forced Tom to get back in with the line more and do more with the line at that particular time. But Tom called the plays. Now I don't say Tom has to call the plays. That's up to Tom. We have two pretty highly touted other people who joined the staff (Ted Tollner and Paul Hackett), who understand calling plays. Now one of them has a history of a little bit West Coast and the other has a history of down the field, which is interesting and which I was excited about. So, did that answer your question?

Cable: "I'm going to call the plays. We'll get into this more here in a little bit about the staff, but Paul is going to coach the quarterbacks and Ted Tollner is going to be the passing game coordinator. We'll move in that direction. We talked about it with them. We'll get great input from them. As we just mentioned, they have a lot of experience and they will be very, very valuable to the success of what we're going to do. But there's a purpose and a reason for why everyone was hired. Let's be very clear on this, OK?. I hired the coaches that I thought would help us get to the playoffs at every position. The timeline isn't the issue, folks. The issue is, we did the right thing for the Oakland Raiders to move forward, to be a playoff team and to find that success that we all deserve."

Give us your reaction to receiving word that you were hired compared to being named interim head coach.

Cable: "At first, there was so much going on, with the change and everything. One minute, you're the line coach and the next minute you're going to be the head coach. So, to get organized and, as I said earlier, those first few weeks were a difficult time in terms of some change that needed to be made, getting organized and getting the staff where you need them to go. So, that in itself, I was just so busy that I didn't really have time to think about it. But I can tell you that this time, it was very special. As I mentioned, this was my team as a kid. This is really a dream come true. I'm proud of it. I'm very appreciative of the opportunity to do this. The Oakland Raiders are back. They're back. We're going to go win football games and we're going to be a playoff team. You hear me? I'm not afraid to say that. All that negative aura, it's done. It's our time now. Every great team in sport, and there are three of them. In baseball, it's the New York Yankees. In basketball, it's the Boston Celtics. And in football, it's the Oakland Raiders. Every one of those three teams, all three of them, have had their tough times. We have had ours. It hasn't been any fun. And you all have been a part of it, those difficult times, longer than I have. But you know what? I grew up watching the great times. Now I get to be a part of the next set of great times. Every great team has done it. We're no different than those other two."

How strongly did you consider Kevin Gilbride? Was former linebackers coach Don Martindale a head coaching candidate?

Davis: "Number one, Kevin Gilbride is a bright, very exceptional coach, and he got tremendous consideration. He's very good. Don Martindale was told what he could be here if he wanted to stay. He decided to go to Denver as the linebackers coach. Don Martindale was not considered as the head coach of the Raiders."

Do you think this team have made the playoffs if you were the coach from the outset of last season?

Cable: "Yeah, I do, because I believe in what I'm doing, I believe in this football team. So, yeah, I do. That ain't what it was. That isn't how it all worked out. It worked out the way it was supposed to. I'm the head coach now, and our goal will be to get to be a playoff team and get a chance at that Super Bowl."

Have you decided upon bringing in that "local" front office person to help?

Davis: "I could say to you, 'It's filled,' but I don't want to. And I could say to you, 'It's a possibility,' and I would leave it at that. I'm just not ready. I just went through a long process here. It isn't easy because, when Tom would bring in these coaches, someone has to sit down with them and talk to them about money. So, occasionally, I would spend some time with them about money, and it isn't easy to hire all these people and come up with a comprehensive money scale and budget."

Did Cable consider another job during this process?

Cable: "You always have to take care of yourself, but I just believe, you know, with great patience and doing the job that was asked of me to do and put a plan together, I expected it to happen. I had great confidence. I obviously didn't know it would happen, but I believed in my heart this is the way it was gonna work out. So you look out for yourself, certainly, but my whole focus was being head coach of the Oakland Raiders, no question."

Will you have an offensive or defensive coordinator?

Cable: "It's not necessary at this point because of my involvement with the two of them. It's something that I just didn't feel was necessary at this point. To the defensive coordinator, I have hired John Marshall, who will lead our defense. I'll go ahead and give you those names here real quick: Dwaine Board will be the defensive line coach; Mike Haluchak will be the linebackers coach; Lionel Washington will be the defensive backs coach, along with Willie Brown. On offense, as I mentioned, Ted Tollner will be the passing game coordinator. Paul will coach the quarterback. Kelly Skipper will move from tight ends to running backs, who was on the staff previously. Sanjay Lal will go from being assistant receiver coach to being the receiver coach. And Adam Henry will go from a quality control position to being the tight end coach. The only position that I haven't hired yet is the offensive line. I have hired a special teams coordinator. That'll be John Fassel, who will move up from the assistant special teams coordinator position. Did a great job. The offensive line coach hasn't been hired cause that's where I live. And I have a plan for that. It'll be done here shortly. And out of respect to it, we'll get it done and when it's time, we'll announce it."

Will you change your defensive scheme, perhaps to a 3-4?

Cable: "Changing it? No. Dramatically? No. How we're gonna plan it and put it together will change significantly. I think the ability of this group of teachers... what we'll ask them, how they'll be held accountable. But will be dramatically different? No, I don't think that would be the wise thing. I think we're built a certain way, and why no t play on our talent."

How much input will you have in personnel in fee agency and the draft?

Cable: "Well, I think in regards to the draft, those things of getting the new coaches familiar with the players they're gonna be coaching, that's an issue for down the road, if you will. Because I think before we can really get into this process all the way, they've gotta be understanding who they've got to coach and how they're gonna get them better, we'll have a plan for that. And so it's probably premature to talk about the draft and all those things right now. How we're gonna through free agency and prepare for the draft and draft day and all that, Al and I have talked about it. This is a partnership, something that I need his leadership, I need his wisdom, I need his experience. And that's something I told him right from the very beginning. There are some things that I asked him to teach me. And this is one of those things. At the same time we've had great discussions a bout personnel, whether it's on our team or other players outside our team. We've had agreements, we've had disagreements, it's been great. But the partnership in it to me has been exactly what I wanted it to be, was being able to be taught by a guy who probably knows more football than most anybody in the National Football League."

What is your offensive philosophy, and is it more Raiderlike than what we've seen?

"Well, I think so. I think one of the things I'm most excited about is to put the complete stamp on it, if you will. Toughness and discipline, act with honor, play with honor, play for each other, throw the ball over their heads, and when you get them down, beat them down running the football. And I think you score points by throwing the football - I mentioned that to you during the season - but you win championships with your ability to run the football at the end of games. Defensively, this team is very talented on defense. Not to put any pressure on anyone, but it is. I've been around them for two years. I want to get back to what I used to see, and I see it on NFL Films all the time: Raiders knocking guys' helmets off, and knocking 'em down and beating them down, beating them down, beating them down on defense. We've been fine on special teams, tremendous this last year. We can get better in all areas, but I want us to go back to being tough, hard-nosed, play the game the way it's supposed to be played by the Oakland Raiders."

Thoughts on the offseason spending spree of 2008

Davis: "I think you always learn by experience, but I don't believe in consistency. I don't believe that you follow because you failed one year, that you can't succeed in the next year. But we did not do well in free agency, no. We had players here who could play, and for some reason or other, some of them refused to play them. And so we went out instead and got the players on the market that were considered the best players at their position that were available. And they did not fare well for us, no. One was injured, that's Javon (Walker). Certainly DeAngelo (Hall) got picked on the first game of the season, we'd have won that game had we played the other guy. When we went back and played them again and played the other guy, we won the game. That's all it was. It was one guy that they took advantage of and beat us. The next time when we played them, they were gonna go after the new guy (Chris Johnson), and they couldn't get after the new guy. So it's a tough year for me, because we didn't do well in free agency. But, I'd rather be right than be consistent, so we'll see what happens. I think with the lockout looming down the road and what's happening in free agency, I don't know that you're gonna see the big bonuses anymore for players. I just don't know that you're gonna see that in the main."

Given Nnamdi Asomugha's status much thought?

Cable: "I have. I've looked at the roster a number of times. There's much work to do in regards to Nnam, Shane Lechler, other free agents on our football team. We have a number of good players that are in free agency, so it'll be a very important time coming up as we go through this. But Nnam's important, Shane's important, they're all important. And that'll be addressed rather quickly."

Would you consider sharing a stadium with the 49ers?

Davis : Are you changing the subject? Let me say that the misconception that there's some unhappiness with the Raiders and the 49ers is a midconception. If you remember I got DeBartolo Sr. to buy the 49ers. I remember Eddie was standing there, he was just a young kid telling his dad to do it, 'Buy it Dad' even though the price went up $500,000. I know Denise. I like Denise very much I don't know John well but I've never had a problem with John. Our problems with the 49ers came in 1995 when we decided to come back to Oakland. Carmen was determined ... I can understand that. He represented the 49ers and we were a threat to the Bay area. Carmen was determined to see to it that if we did come back it wouldn't be a good journey. He rallied some of the writers who were friends of his on his side to attack us. But no, would I ... let me say this. Jed York is a very bright young man and our CEO, Amy Trask, who's in charge of business operations. I'm not sure how far she's gone but we have to do something. We have to have a new stadium. We want to win. We want our fans to do great. The will to win is the fire that burns brightest in this organization and if a new stadium can help us, then we'll look at a new stadium. We want what everyone else in thi s league has got. It's amazing how we all sit here and I realize that every newspaper in here is having problems but this is the only place in America where there's no new stadium: Minneapolis and three stadiums in California. Our teams operate at a very unfair practice.

What would it take to get you to sit down with the 49ers and talk stadium?

Davis: First of all I'd have to know what the stadium is and who's going to pay for it. Once I know that, I can answer your questions.

Where do you see the team playing in 2010 after it's lease expires in Oakand?

Davis: "I'd like to be playing in a stadium or some new stadium that's started. I like the present location very much. I think it's a helluva location but I'd like a new location. That's our goal."

The last time you spoke with JaMarcus Russell

Cable: "I talked to him at the Senior Bowl. He's here now. My feeling with JaMarcus is JaMarcus has really embraced what his responsibility is and what is role is. He's had a rookie season that was, he came in late and played the last little bit there, played a few games, started one game. And of course he started the entire season this year and I think he has through all of that has really learned and accepted what his responsibility is and what his role is. I'm not surprised to see him back now and doing the things he should be doing to lead this football team.

Davis: He's got some physical problems that have to be taken care of too. I think his ankle was bothering him at the end of the year. He had some chips in there so they may have to do something with that.

Thoughts on Russell's development.

Davis: I thought the whole process was too slow. I thought the process was too slow the year before.

Now more from Davis' post-news conference chat

On any efforts to keep Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator.

Davis: I like Rob Ryan a lot but it was time to make a change and it was best in the fact that Tom Cable was the new head coach, or could be the new head coach, and the other fella could be the head coach that I picked out, and I thought it would be best for Rob ... it's ironic, Rob goes to Cleveland and they're bragging on him. They got Rob Ryan. Greg Knapp, who we had the worst pass offense in the league two years in a row, they're bragging on him in Seattle. Here, no one bragged on those guys. But I didn't try with Rob. He's a good friend. I thought it was time for him to move on.

What about special teams coordinator Brian Schneider?

Davis: "Brian did well. John Fassell did real well. You have to remember that one of the things that hurt us on special teams for a short period in the middle of the season was when we lost probably the best special teamer we've had in a while, Ty Branch. I don't know if you'll remember him. Seriously. He was a great kickoff returner and we had to go out and get a kickoff returner, which was Justin (Miller). We had to replace what's his name who got hurt? Ricky Brown. We got very lucky. We got a guy in here, Cooper, who helped us on teams. But we were down on teams in certain areas. We were good on returns, no question about it, but on their returns against us and their kickoff return, we were not great. But he did a good job. He wanted to go and young Fassell is a young talent that we think is pretty good. The only coach that left that really we probably would have kept at his position was Tom Rathman and he wanted to go over there (to the 49ers), we understood that, that's where his history is made. We had a young guy, not a young guy but a good young coach, Skipper, and so we just moved him in there and it gave Henry a chance to move up. That was the only thing. We had those three running backs and we had that fourth running back and that's a pretty important part of our football team."

People say Al's old offense doesn't work in this era, is that fair?

Davis: "They certainly don't say it now. I mean if you think Pittsburgh is not ... but look, look, when we started 2000, 2001, 2002, I thought we had a chance to run this decade. We didn't do it. It slipped away from us and we became mediocre and didn't do it. In every decade that's started since the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000 we've played in a championship game to start the decade. Now the vertical game, you gotta throw the ball deep. There's no one around who can win without doing it, whether it be Arizona, whether it be Pittsburgh, no matter who it is."

Why did you finally hire Cable?

Davis: "Just listening to him. Just what he did with the team at the end. I just felt that his excellence with the offensive line was never in doubt, he always did well with them, although it was a zone blocking scheme, which he's talked about improving on with some power, getting some power in there. He's good, he really is. He knows football. He has a passion for the goddamn thing, which a lot of these others, they have a passion for the authority it gives them or the focus with you people. It was that guy (Kiffin) every day would kill us every day. We took a left tackle (Mario Henderson) and didn't play him the whole season because he was my pick and then ... the couple games he played he dominated the game. He dominated Gaines Adams and he dominated Mario Williams. You didn't see him. Look, the things that move men, no one's going to explain that."

Do you want another executive in personnel?

Davis: "We have two executives in personnel but I don't know if we're going to keep, if they're going to stay. I haven't made up my mind exactly what I'm going to do but I'm going to do something. I haven't made up my mind exactly what I'm going to do."

Plausible to bring both Asomugha and Lechler back or are you resigned to losing one to keep the other?

Davis: "I'm not resigned to anything. But I say it's tough."

Would it be an option to franchise Nnamdi and if you lose him get a couple first-round picks back if a team signs him?

Davis: Well that would mean it's not an exclusive rights franchise tag. No, I would think that whatever I do would be exclusive with anyone.

Tough to envision sharing a stadium?

Davis: "I would have to know the economics and who would build the stadium and all the factors involved in it. I would have to know that and I would have to know how you deviate the two teams that are in the stadium."

Would you want to be majority in a shared stadium?

Davis: "No, no. I wouldn't think that anyone could have that. The Giants had it over the Jets and I wouldn't want that. I'm not looking for that. I'm looking for a place where our fans could go, it's our fans, and the economics make sense."

Q: You could see playing in Santa Clara?

Davis: "I told you I like this stadium right here. I like this location right here."

Can the Raiders succeed with the current stadium lease they have?

Davis: "It's very difficult. Succeed? It's very difficult because when you talk to me about free agency of course it's difficult. It's ridiculous not to say it. You've got to have the finance to compete with these other teams."

A new stadium brings you revenue?

Davis: "Well, if we can get it. It depends on what revenue you have to give up to built a new stadium. There are a lot of issues involved. When we came back to Oakland they fixed it. When we went to Los Angeles they fixed it. When we started in Oakland they built it. I'm not used to building stadiums. Go see Amy she'll tell you everything that's going on with stadiums. She's very alert, she's very aware, she's smarter than I am."


Where are you at in the process of working on an extension of the current lease?

Davis: "Why don't you talk to Amy? We're not working on an extension of the current lease. I don't think so. I really don't."

Does JaMarcus have the proper work ethic to succeed?

Davis: "I think JaMarcus can be a great player. I'm not interested in what you're talking about. Let me tell you something. Go back to the 70s and the 80s I had a guy here by the name of Stabler. You talk about work ethic? But he could win."

Might the Raiders trade a running back?

Davis: "That wouldn't be right. Tom is going to help make every decision."

Do you notice when Kiffin takes potshots at you?

Davis: "No, Lane Kiffin's a flatout liar. He could take anything he wants. What potshots has he taken?"

Mentions the Raiders being dysfunctional a lot.

Davis: "Did you ever ask him what the dysfunction was? He did say it was a crisis. What crisis. John Herrera said it best - the dysfunction was caused by Lane."

Role of son Mark.

Davis: "When you go by the pecking order it's Mrs. Davis and then Mark. He'll be a strong owner. What you're asking is he going to make business decisions and football decisions. He's not ready for that because he hasn't taken it over yet.

"What's the matter Lowell?"


Cohn: I think he was asking when you're planning on dying.

Davis: "He's allowed to do that. It's my life."

Is there a plan to integrate Mark more?

Davis: "I'm not ready yet to give up where he can take over."

--Jason Jones







February 4, 2009
Al Davis unplugged

ALAMEDA - There's a lot to cover from today's press conference.

I'll post a lot more later since I hear the television networks didn't show the full press conference.

But I'll leave you with some tidbits from Raiders owner Al Davis for now from his chat with reporters after the television cameras stopped recording.

Davis remains one of the most fascinating people to speak with in sports and someone I enjoy listening to whenever he speaks.

On if Lane Kiffin was paid the money he sought in his grievance:

"F*** no."

When a reporter mentioned that Davis has a lot of input on what happens on the field:

"Bull****."

Why didn't the Raiders use younger players earlier?

"Because (Kiffin) wouldn't do it. That's why he had to get fired."

Why didn't young players play immediately after Cable became the interim head coach?

"Tom tried to start breaking it in but there was resistance from certain assistants and they're not here. There was resistance and there's always resistance when you have a veteran who's there, who knows you, who's been with you. But yeah I wanted to go young, I really did."

Did going young make sense to you?

"I'm not worried now whether it made sense or not. The idea was to go young because we were young. We had good young players. Not everyone believes our players are good. Someone the other day said we gotta go get a receiver. Who was it who said we should have drafted Calvin Johnson instead of JaMarcus Russell. He didn't show up today but their record was 0-16 last year with Calvin Johnson. Then they said we should have drafted Larry Fitzgerald but the year we didn't draft Fitzgerald we drafted a guy who was considered the best offensive lineman in the draft and we had Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Jerry Porter, who everyone had thought had greatness in his future."

Davis on his health:

"What happened was in San Diego (in December) I went down. Now whether I was tripped or whether I fell, I went down, got up, start walking around and my right leg swelled up on me and to get the swelling out I couldn't go on the trip. But I'm fine now. I'm back again."

Do you wish you would have made a coaching change before the 2008 season?

"Naw. I tried to reason with the guy. I thought we could get something out of him and I wanted to push it through to see if I could push it through. I guess it was my stubborness too but he was bad. He was a liar, flat out, which I told you. I've never broken away from it. They know it. The players know it. He would lie to them about things and all he wanted to do was get out of here, get his money. If I had made the move at the start of the season I'm not sure I would have had cause."

On the Raiders' chances in 2009:

"I do like to win Super Bowls but I'm also realistic. I know where we are. We can win the division. We have to do a little bit more to win the division but winning Super Bowls, no, I don't think this team is ready yet. We may be a year away from putting another good group together. And of course No. 2 (JaMarcus Russell) that's a formidable thing. I really think (Paul) Hackett can handle him."

On Warren Sapp's criticism of the franchise:

"Well, you figure that one out. I gave Tommy Kelly $40 million and didn't give it to him."

On Rich Gannon's criticism:

"Rich played the greatest game in Super Bowl history in (2003). Just joking. Rich was very nice to us on TV in that last game when we beat Tampa wasn't he? He writes me notes he'd like to assist. More ex-Raiders who'd like to come back and work here than you can imagine."

There's more to come later. But here are some more notes from today.

*Russell might need ankle surgery. Davis said there are "chips" in his ankle that might need to be removed. Russell is already back in California.

*Derrick Burgess was also spotted at the facility. That's news because Burgess usually works out in Mississippi.

*Cable's coaching staff is complete with the exception of an offensive line coach. That's no big deal because Cable will help in that area.

Ted Tollner will be the passing game coordinator.

*Cable will continue to call plays on offense.

*Davis said he's not against sharing a stadium but would need to know more details such as how it would be paid for before sitting down with the 49ers. CEO Amy Trask oversees business ventures like that. Davis said he doesn't believe the Raiders are in discussions to extend their lease that expires in 2010.

--Jason Jones

February 3, 2009
The official start of the Cable era

Let the jokes begin.

Tom Cable is Al Davis' (place your synonym for puppet here).

Davis did Cable's public perception no good by hiring several assistant coaches while making Cable wait.

After all, don't most coaches get to be hired before their assistants?

Why did Davis do it? Well, because he could.

Cable didn't seem intent on leaving or courting other jobs to make Davis announce a decision sooner.

So Davis let him wait for more than a month to announce what was assumed long ago.

But why Cable? This is the main reason from where I sit:

Cable is the anti-Lane Kiffin.

Unlike Kiffin, Cable never publicly challenged (or in Kiffin's case sometimes) taunted Davis' methods or decisions.

Sure, Cable showed independence in some decisions (see the fake FG against Kansas City) but he's not going to brag that things that work are of his doing and when things go bad, that they're all Davis' fault.

Mind you, Kiffin's constant jabs at Davis through the media made for fun days at work.

It didn't take much thought for a story idea when Kiffin comes out to say he has no talent and he's not allowed to cut players.

(Davis said that's not true, but that didn't make reporting on it any less fun).

Kiffin's willingness to take a player to task was refreshing. It couldn't' have been fun for Mario Henderson or Javon Walker, but it was fun because it was so unusual.

But ithat's not good for business.

Kiffin knew that. But he didn't care as he and Davis were busy giving each other the evil eye.

So what's Cable going to do? What he did in 12 games as interim head coach.

Cable is going to speak highly of Davis. He won't trash players and isn't likely to be the source of media leaks that will anger Davis.

Cable probably made Davis smile when he came out and angrily dogged the decision of assistant offensive line coach James Cregg to leave the team to join Kiffin at Tennessee.

Cable was 4-8, not exactly a record that should have made him a cinch to be head coach. But the Raiders aren't like other teams.

Loyalty is important to Davis and Cable was that in 2008. So Cable has the job he wants.

--Jason Jones

February 3, 2009
It's (finally) official

Tom Cable is the Raiders' head coach. Press conference tomorrow.

February 3, 2009
Tomorrow?

I've checked in with the Raiders and there will be no press conference for a new head coach today.

So Tom Cable will wait another day...

But there is a good chance of a press conference tomorrow, which means another media session with Al Davis (oh, the fun). That's where Davis will explain hiring a coaching staff before announcing a head coach.

Of all the coaches announced and speculated about, there has been no mention of an ofensive line coach.

So expect Cable to handle that group (they really couldn't afford to lose him in that capacity) with Cable relying Paul Hackett and Ted Tollner (assuming he is hired as offensive coordinator) to take over some of the responsiblities Cable had calling plays last season.

I'll keep you posted on the latest as the team would alert as media folks sometime this afternoon if there will be news conference tomorrow.

But it sounds like the saga is about to end.

--Jason Jones

February 3, 2009
Any day now...

Will it happen today?

Will the Raiders end the worst kept secret in football and announce Tom Cable is their head coach?

The National Football Post reports the Raiders have already decided on offensive and defensive coordinators.

The Post reports John Marshall will be the defensive coordinator while Ted Tollner will run the offense.

Marshall was fired in Seattle when Jim Mora took over this year. Tollner was not retained as quarterbacks coach by new 49ers coach Mike Singletary.

Like quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett, Tollner has been a head coach at USC (1983-86).

Meanwhile, isn't it about time to hire the head coach?

When I get back from being abused by my trainer, I hope there's some announcement.

--Jason Jones

February 1, 2009
Which Steelers might be Raiders in 2009?

Last year it was Gibril Wilson. In 2007, it was Dominic Rhodes.

For years the Raiders have had an affinity for players from Super Bowl teams.

But looking at the current crop of Pittsburgh free agents, there isn't a big name set to hit the market.

Injured tackle Marvel Smith, tackles Willie Colon and Max Starks , and guard Chris Kemoeatu make the most sense considering the Raiders need help on the offensive line. But that depends on if Tom Cable (and yes, I'm assuming he's the head coach for now) thinks any of them can fit into the zone-blocking scheme.

Colon is a restricted free agent while the other linemen are unrestricted free agents.

--Jason Jones




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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