Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

February 28, 2010
Cable says Russell will compete for starting QB job

Raiders coach - and, yes, he is the Raiders coach - Tom Cable spoke at the combine today. Here are the highlights of what he said.

On the team's quarterback situation
TC: Well, you know, getting ready to start off the season and we'll get to OTAs, minicamp and let the job be competed for. You know, I think that's where we're at in terms of our starting quarterback. (Which quarterbacks?) I mean all those guys so long as we can get some of them resigned and see if we add anybody to the mix.

On JaMarcus Russell
TC: JaMarcus is working and doing the things he should be doing right now and he'll get himself prepared to compete for the job. And I think that's the only way to look at it.

On his job status after the season.
TC: Nah, it wasn't (a question). We went through the evaluation process. I was told, 'You're under contract and we need talk about everything.' And that's what we did. So there was a lot of speculation, but kind of the whole time I just went to work every day and did what I knew I needed to do to be ready for the evaluation, ready for the Senior Bowl, ready for all the things that were coming up.

On when he was told he'd be coming back.
TC: Well, I was never told I wasn't. ... That's the one misnomer. A lot of speculation, but every day I went to work, every day I got ready for the routine, the things you would normally do. For me, sitting back I kind of wondered what all the fuss was about. I was just going to work every day.

On Javon Walker's status.
TC: Really we've had the emergence of those young players, and certainly Louis Murphy and Chaz Schilens and Johnnie Lee Higgins give us something. And Darrius Heyward-Bey gets hurt and misses a big chunk of the season. So I think it's the development and trying to bring that group along. Will he be there next year? We'll see.

On Darrius Heyward-Bey's rookie year.
TC: Well, I think there was some good and there were some things that were probably disappointing. The injury to me was disappointing. The amount of pressure that was put on that kid from all angles, the scrutiny he came under the minute he was picked - probably unfair but, hey, this is the NFL and that's what it is. But with his work ethic and his character, he's going to be what he's supposed to be, really. You'll be excited to write about him soon.

Could quarterback be a position you add in the draft?
TC: For us, we have to look at a number of things, so I don't think you would discount that or any other position.

What are the top areas you're looking at in the draft?
TC: For us right now it's probably working a little bit on the line of scrimmage and the secondary and things like that. And really come away from this combine knowing what's available so you can put your finger on that.

-- Matt Barrows

February 26, 2010
Busy week in Raiderland elicits more questions

It was a busy week in Silver and Blackdom.

First, the team announced its first ever feel-good Raidercruise along the Mexican Riviera, which prompted jokes of Charo as a Raiderette.

Then, Randy Hanson followed through on his threat of a civil suit against Tom Cable and the Raiders, in light of the Napa D.A. declining in October to pursue criminal charges against the head coach.

Finally, the Raiders slapped the "exclusive" franchise player tag on Richard Seymour, meaning they have exclusive negotiating rights with the defensive end.

What a week to make a "Chronicle Live" appearance on Tuesday, my annual "pilgrimage" to the alma mater to take in a UNLV hoops game on Wednesday - the Rebels led TCU by as many as 31 points - and then cover Cal's rollercoaster beatdown of Arizona on Thursday (and yes, the Mountain West is far superior to the Pac-10 this season and deserves four teams in the Big Dance to the Pac's one - Cal; be on the lookout for that story the week of the Pac-10 tourney).

Did I mention my laptop melting down so epically it cost me some eight months worth of work files, transcripts, stories, columns, research, etc...? Yeah, it's been that kind of week on this end.

But the biggest news of the week coming from the Raider compound? Of course, the cruise, which prompted a breathless press release.

Seymour being guaranteed a minimum of $12.398 million for the 2010 season - or the average salary of the top-five paid defensive ends in 2010, whichever is higher - merely generated the following on the Raiders' Web Site: "The Oakland Raiders have designated defensive end Richard Seymour their franchise player. Seymour was offered the exclusive tender, which gives the Raiders sole negotiating rights."

That's it.

Of course, there's more to it. Much more. According to Jerry Mac, had the Raiders allowed Seymour to walk as a non-exclusive free agent, he would have been free to shop his services, with the Raiders then having the choice to either match the top offer, or accept a pair of first-round draft choices as compensation.

Remember, the Raiders gave up ONE first-round pick, in 2011, to New England for Seymour, so they could have hauled in TWICE as much in return during this eternal rebuilding project.

Who knows, maybe the Raiders do think that highly of Seymour and believe they are thisclose to turning the corner. Otherwise, a pair of future first-rounders sounds tempting, no?

Unless Al Davis believes there will be no football, thank to a lockout, in 2011 or anytime soon thereafter.

All of which brings up the next conspiracy theory - that Davis is keeping Cable merely to fulfill his two-year contract. Otherwise, he'd have to pay Cable to go away this season, then hire another coach to a multi-year deal. Meaning, he'd pay TWO guys this season, and one guy for 2011, when they might not be a season.

Is Charo still working these days?

In any event, Cable is. And he's scheduled to speak at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, where the Bee's Matt Barrows is Blogging and Tweeting away - at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Should be interesting, especially in light of Hanson's suit, the free-agent market opening next Friday - the Raiders have 13 restricted free agents, including the People's Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski and fallen-out-of-favor linebackers-in-arms Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison.

February 22, 2010
Inaugural Raidercruise to set sail; with Charo?

Sometimes, these things just write themselves.

The Raiders announced Monday the creation of a seven-day "Raidercruise" along the Mexican Riviera. Actually, it sounds like a cool idea, even if the Raiders' fortunes since Super Bowl XXXVII have more closely mirrored those of the Titanic than Capt. Stubing's Love Boat.

Or, as a reader named Doug pondered, "How many security guards will be aboard? Will the Mexican government be on alert for each port call? Will Al Davis have a new sweat suit? Will real pirates make an appearance?"

Still, what Raiders diehard wouldn't want to take a week-long vacation and rub elbows with assorted "Raiders legends" on the Lido deck? And does Sebastian Janikowski jump behind the bar, serve up drinks and give you the double-barrel fingers, ala Isaac, your bartender? Will Shane Lechler serve as "Gopher, your Yeoman Purser?" And who plays "Doc?"

Most pressing, will Charo the Cuchi Cuchi Girl be onboard the inaugural Raidercruise?

But I digress. Still sounds cool, methinks. Following is the official release:

The Oakland Raiders are pleased to announce the first ever RAIDERCRUISE, a
seven-day cruise for Raider fans aboard Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas
vessel. The RAIDERCRUISE will embark from Los Angeles on May 2 and make
three stops along the Mexican Riviera before returning on May 9.

Raider Legends will highlight the travel party, hosting events on board throughout
the cruise.

The Mariner of the Seas has a total length of 1,020 feet and a capacity for 3,114
passengers. Part of the Voyager class of cruise ships, the Mariner of the Seas
features state-of-the-art recreational facilities including a rock-climbing wall, ice
skating rink and basketball court.

Travel packages for the RAIDERCRUISE will include a meet and greet with
Raider Legends, photo sessions with the Raiderettes, concerts, shore excursions
and other exclusive events.

For more information on RAIDERCRUISE travel packages, please visit www.
Raidercruise.com
.

February 19, 2010
Pendergast leaves Raiders after 11 days for Cal

Clancy Pendergast, we hardly knew ye.

Some 11 days after accepting a nebulous job to work with the Raiders defense following six seasons as defensive coordinator for Kansas City (2009) and Arizona (2004-08), Pendergast has left Oakland. He was named Cal's defensive coordinator by Golden Bears coach Jeff Tedford on Friday.

Following is Cal's official release: (BERKELEY) - Clancy Pendergast has been named the defensive coordinator at Cal, head coach Jeff Tedford announced Friday. Pendergast brings 19 seasons of NFL and collegiate coaching experience to the position, including the past six campaigns as an NFL defensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs (2009) and Arizona Cardinals (2004-08). Pendergast was the defensive coordinator in Arizona when the Cardinals captured the 2008 NFC title to earn a berth in Super Bowl XLIII.

"We are extremely pleased and excited to be able to hire a football coach with Clancy Pendergast's experience and credentials," said Cal head coach Jeff Tedford. "He has been a defensive coordinator on football's biggest stage and will be a tremendous asset to Cal football."

"I'm excited to have an opportunity to work here at a Cal with its tradition rich program," said Pendergast. "I'm also excited to work with a high-profile college football coach like Jeff Tedford. Hopefully, I can bring the ability to be a very good teacher of the game, give our players direction and put them in position to use their strengths along with their talent to make plays."

The signature of Pendergast's defenses during his tenure as an NFL defensive coordinator was the ability to force turnovers, with his six squads racking up a combined 176 total takeaways (92 interceptions, 84 fumble recoveries). For the five-year period from 2004-08, his Arizona teams ranked eighth in the NFL by forcing 148 turnovers (77 interceptions, 71 fumbles).

"We want to play smart, tough and aggressive," said Pendergast. "Those will be the three keys."

During Arizona's Super Bowl run following the 2008 regular season, the Cardinals led all NFL teams by forcing 13 turnovers in the playoffs. The performance of the Arizona defense played a key role in post-season victories over Atlanta, Carolina and Philadelphia as the Cardinals limited the three highly-regarded offenses to an average of 20.7 points per game. During the 2008 regular season, Arizona led the NFL with 17 fumble recoveries and ranked tied for fifth in the league with 30 takeaways. Arizona was also third in the NFL with opponents facing an average of 8.16 yards to go on second down and sixth by permitting 4.97 yards per play on first down.

The 2007 edition of the Cardinals ranked ninth in the NFL in run defense, allowing only 97.9 yards per game. On November 11, 2007, Arizona set a modern-day NFL record by holding the Detroit Lions to -18 rushing yards. The 2007 team also set single-season franchise records with six interception returns for touchdowns and 551 interception return yards. The club's 18 total interceptions tied for 10th in the league.

In 2006, Pendergast's defense forced 33 turnovers (16 interceptions, 17 fumbles), the most by the Cardinals since 1998 and tied for fifth in the NFL. The 17 fumble recoveries ranked fourth in the league.

The Cardinals were eighth in the NFL in total defense (295.6 ypg) in 2005, as well as fourth in third-down efficiency (34.2%), seventh in first downs allowed (272) and tied for 10th in fumble recoveries (13).

In Pendergast's first season with Arizona in 2004, the Cardinals improved to 12th in the NFL in both total defense and scoring defense after being ranked 26th and 32nd in those two respective categories the year before Pendergast arrived. In addition, the team forced 30 turnovers to rank tied for 13th in the NFL, compiling seven more takeaways than the season before his arrival when the Cardinals were 24th in the league with 23 takeaways. The 2004 squad was also second in the NFL in red zone TD percentage (45.0%), fourth in third-down defense (31.6%) and tied for fifth in fumble recoveries (15).

During his tenure in Arizona, Pendergast also worked with the secondary and coached Arizona safety Adrian Wilson to a pair of Pro Bowls in 2006 and 2008. Defensive end Bertrand Berry (2004) and defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (2007) also earned their first Pro Bowl selections playing in Pendergast's defense.

Pendergast spent the 2003 season as the linebackers coach with the Cleveland Browns.
Prior to his one campaign in Cleveland, Pendergast was a member of a Dallas Cowboys' coaching staff that won two NFC East titles (1996, '98) and made three NFC Playoff appearances (1996, '98, '99) during his seven-year tenure from 1996-2002. Pendergast spent his first four seasons in Dallas (1996-99) as a defensive assistant and quality control coach. He oversaw the club's defensive nickel packages in 2000 before coaching the defensive backs in his final two campaigns (2001-02) with the Cowboys. Dallas ranked third in the NFL in pass defense in both 2000 (168.3 ypg) and 2001 (180.6 ypg).

In 2002, Pendergast tutored safety Roy Williams, who was a consensus all-rookie selection and led Dallas with five interceptions.

Pendergast began his NFL coaching career in 1995 with one season as a defensive assistant/quality control coach for the Houston Oilers.

Prior to his 15 years in the NFL, Pendergast spent four seasons as an assistant coach at the collegiate level. He served as a graduate assistant with Mississippi State in 1991, before working on coaching staffs at USC as a defensive assistant in 1992 and Oklahoma as a graduate assistant and tight ends coach from 1993-94.

Pendergast graduated from Arizona in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in agriculture.

February 18, 2010
Raiders to "franchise" Seymour?


So it appears the Raiders have decided to slap the franchise tag on Richard Seymour to keep the Pro Bowl alternate defensive end, rather than use the transition tag on him, according to ESPN.

Of course, if the Raiders can come to terms on a long-term contract with him before the Feb. 25 deadline, the only "tag" they'd place on Seymour would be a captain's "C" on his jersey.

Signing Sebastian Janikowski to the richest contract in history for a placekicker kept both the franchise tag - which would pay Seymour $12.398 million in 2010 - and transition tags - Seymour could shop his services around but the Raiders would have first right of refusal to resign him at $10.193 million and risk alienating the player by lowballing him - in play.

No doubt the Raiders want to keep Seymour, for whom they traded their 2011 first-round draft pick to New England, around. And Seymour has expressed more than a passing interest in returning to Oakland.

February 16, 2010
Raiders hook SeaBass, Seymour next?

The Raiders made Sebastian Janikowski the richest placekicker in the game's history Tuesday, re-signing the franchise's all-time leading scorer to a four-year, $16-million contract with $9 million guaranteed.

Shocked? You shouldn't be. Not after the obscene amount of money Al Davis has thrown at his top players the previous two years.

He made Shane Lechler the highest-paid punter in the game last year, giving him the same deal as Janikowski, as well as making Nnamdi Asomugha the highest paid cornerback in history. A year before, Davis doled out a sick contract to defensive tackle Tommy Kelly.

The Raiders avoiding getting in a bidding war with Janikowski and not having to use the franchise tag on him is a surprise, all right. A pleasant surprise.

They locked up a guy coming off his best season as a pro - Janikowski converted 26 of 29 field-goal attempts, including 15 of 18 from beyond 40 yards and a team record 61-yarder, and his misses were from 45, 57 and 66 yards.

He deserved to at least make the Pro Bowl and he had my vote for All-Pro kicker.

So what's next for the Raiders?

They have to decide what to do with unrestricted free agent defensive end Richard Seymour, for whom they surrendered their 2011 first-round draft pick to New England in a trade.

Do the Raiders enter negotiations with him and his people for a multi-year contract?

Do they use the still-available franchise tag on him, which would pay him $12.398 million?

Or do they dust off the old transition tag and slap it on Seymour, which guarantees original teams the right of first refusal to match any offer an unrestricted free agent may receive from another team. The transition cost for a defensive end this season is a reported $10.193 million. So the Raiders could conceivably save themselves $2.205 million, but risk alienating Seymour.

Stay tuned. The deadline to apply such tags is Feb. 25.

February 3, 2010
Asomugha a serious jokester

Nnamdi Asomugha is a smart guy. And a funny one.

So no matter how much the cornerback tries to play off his seemingly innocuous comments to ESPN at last weekend's Pro Bowl in South Florida, where he told the network he wanted to play with New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, there was indeed a method to his madness. And depending upon your loyalties, either ESPN or Asomugha himself created the stir.

"Me and Revis have been talking to Rex (Ryan) to try to do something," Asomugha said. "You may see us in the future. There's a little bit of talk going on. Either he's coming to Oakland or something else will happen."

Raider Nation felt its collective heart jump a bit when those words appeared in print and were splashed across HD television screens.

But then Asomugha fessed up, telling the San Francisco Chronicle's David White it was all a gag.

"The only thing we were 'dead serious' about was the fact that it would be fun to one day play on the same team," Asomugha told Blanco, in South Florida for the Super Bowl. "That's all. We were two guys enjoying the Pro Bowl and completely clowning around during the week. We were playfully recruiting each other; I was talking about getting him to Oakland and vice versa."

Asomugha is that rare Raider unafraid to speak his mind. So even if he was indeed joking, his words should be taken seriously. It's obvious he's frustrated with all of the losing. But at the same time, he took Al Davis' record-setting, three-year contract reportedly worth as much as $50 million last year to remain in Oakland.



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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