Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

March 31, 2010
Raiders announce preseason opponents

The Raiders have announced their preseason opponents and will open up with a pair of road games at Dallas between August 12-16 and at Chicago, between Aug. 19-23. They then play host to the 49ers at the Coliseum between Aug. 26-29 and wrap up the exhibition season at home against Seattle on either Sept. 2 or Sept. 3.

Exact dates and kickoff times will be announced at a later date.

The regular season schedule will be announced in April. The Raiders have home games against Houston, Indianapolis, Miami, Seattle and St. Louis and AFC West opponents Denver, Kansas City and San Diego. They travel to Arizona, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Tennessee, Denver, Kansas City and San Diego.

March 30, 2010
A McNabb arrival might buy Russell more time

This Donovan McNabb-to-the-Raiders rumor just won't die. In fact, it's only picked up steam, thanks to ESPN, which is essentially re-reporting last week's scuttlebutt that the Raiders are the leading candidates to land the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback. Now, though, the network is highlighting the Syracuse connection between McNabb and Al Davis and the distant family relationship between McNabb and new Raiders offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.

Still, I've been told by a Raider source that McNabb wants little, if anything, to do with Raider Nation. And the Contra Costa Times reported today that if the Eagles have been in discussions with the Raiders, per ESPN, then that's news to the Raiders.

It's fun to play fantasy G.M., no doubt. Even more fun to look at the domino effect the Raiders landing McNabb would have on the rest of the roster.

The knee-jerk reaction is to think JaMarcus Russell would be on his way out. In fact, it might actually buy Russell another year, at least. And this is by no means a vote of confidence for Russell, who does not deserve one.

Think about it. The Raiders have already made a huge financial investment in Russell, who was still the third-youngest QB in the league last year. They realize he needs a mentor, which was the role Jeff Garcia was supposed to fill last season before, and I'm making an educated guess here, he was so disappointed in Russell's lack of work ethic and was not ready to be a back-up he asked for his release.

Also, who was the veteran quarterback that did reach out to Russell last season? McNabb. Perhaps McNabb could offer counsel to Russell and maybe Russell would respect McNabb enough to accept it.

But acquiring McNabb could not be a one-and-done deal as he is entering the final year of his contract. They'd have to agree to some sort of extension or pull a Richard Seymour and "franchise" him. By then, you'd know for certain what you had in Russell.

March 28, 2010
First McNabb, now Rosenfels?

Checking in from Scottsdale Stadium in Arizona, where the Giants are playing the Padres and I'm covering the last days of baseball spring training...

First, it was Donovan McNabb who was coming to save the Raiders. Now, if you believe the rumor mill, it's Sage Rogenfels.

Seriously? Sage Rogenfels? The Minnesota Vikings' third-string quarterback?

Yes, if you're inclined to believe the postings of profootballtalk.com.

Then again, it could all be mere mud thrown on the wall, just to see what, if anything, sticks.

But if it's true the Raiders are trolling around for a new quarterback, it might mean there is truth to the other report that surfaced this week - JaMarcus Russell is still tipping the scales at a "svelte" 290 pounds - and they are not happy about it. In fact, Al Davis might be willing to swallow the $9.45 million Russell is owed with no cap hit.

Plus, how intriguing that the Vikings are involved in this story, what with Minnesota reportedly McNabb's choice destination if he is traded. Because remember, Brett Favre still has not decided if he is returning...again.

March 25, 2010
Wanna be a Raiderette?


Wanna be a Raiderette, or just dance like one?

The team is holding three classes to prepare potential Raiderettes on Saturday, April 3 and April 10 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. The first two sessions will be held at Bancroft Middle School in San Leandro and the final class will be at San Leandro's John Muir Middle School. Each class is $25.

Preliminary auditions are April 11 at the Oakland Airport Hilton.

For more information, click here.

March 25, 2010
McNabb to Raiders? Things that make you go, hmmmmm...(UPDATE!!!)

PFT is reporting that a proposed trade for Donovan McNabb would include three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel to the Raiders for...(drum roll, please) two-time Pro Bowler Nnamdi Asomugha and his massive contract.

Now, this report/rumor could be nothing more then someone throwing some mud on the wall and seeing what sticks, but, I kinda like it...

What say you, Raider Nation?

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So, those gale force rumor winds that had the Raiders kicking the tires on Donovan McNabb have been replaced by a twister out of St. Louis that has the Rams actually making an offer to Philadelphia for the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback's services.

This after reports broke in the morning that the Raiders were the Buford T. Justice - in hot pursuit - in the McNabb sweepstakes at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando.

McNabb in Oakland is an intriguing possibility, given that his work ethic would far surpass that of JaMarcus Russell and his experience blows away that of Bruce Gradkowski.

Still, should McNabb, who turns 34 on Nov. 25 and has a lot of tread on his tires, be dealt to the Raiders, he'd have to come with an open mind and not a woe-is-me attitude for it to even have a chance of succeeding. Maybe he could have a chat with Richard Seymour?

In any event, the offensive line has to be upgraded, no matter WHO is under center.

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Seems that Blanco is the only Bay Area writer at the meetings in Florida and his Blog today had an interesting give-and-take with Tom Cable.

March 22, 2010
Raiders awarded extra draft pick, re-sign DT Joseph

The Raiders have been awarded a compensatory pick in the upcoming draft, a seventh-round selection, giving them eight picks in the April draft.

Also, free agent defensive tackle William Joseph has been re-signed by the Raiders, according to www.profootballtalk.com.

Joseph, who has spent the past two seasons in Oakland - eight games, no starts in 2008; six games, no starts in 2009 - after being a New York Giants' first-round draft pick in 2003 out of Miami, reportedly agreed to a one-year deal worth the league minimum of $755,000.

March 16, 2010
JaMarcus speaks...sorta

JaMarcus Russell spoke to CSN Bay Area's Kate Longworth this afternoon...kinda.

The interview went down as Russell drove out of the Raiders' facility following the second day of voluntary workouts - Russell was absent from the first day - and Longworth had to walk alongside his SUV to get Russell's take.

"We have some rocks we have to climb, but it's going to take a while to get there," Russell said. "That's what we're here for, to work."

To see the interview in it's entirety, click here.

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Just realized a portion of the Blog was inadvertently left off...

-Recently acquired linebacker Kameron Wimbley, who came from Cleveland for an undisclosed draft pick, was in the house Tuesday.

Plus, the Raiders have officially announced the re-signings of Pro Bowl long snapper Jon Condo and offensive lineman Chris Morris.

March 16, 2010
Russell shows up for voluntary workouts slimmer, perhaps wiser?

Give JaMarcus Russell an "E" for effort.

Or at least for finally showing some semblance of common sense.

The embattled former No. 1 overall pick, who turned fans and teammates against him last season with his lackadaisical approach to the game, a growing midsection and horrid on-field performance before being benched, showed up at the Raiders' Alameda compound Tuesday for voluntary workouts.

Big deal, you crow? A purported franchise quarterback SHOULD be at all team functions, voluntary or not? Indeed. But this is how far Russell has lowered the bar, that his showing up for a voluntary workout is actually news. Or that he seems to have dropped some weight.

The Raiders are not making anyone available to the media during these closed workouts, which are little more than glorified weight-lifting and running sessions.

Still, "He does look a bit better than (the) end of last season," a source who saw Russell in Alameda today told me.

He won't resemble Stephen Curry anytime soon, but at least he doesn't look like JaMarcus Russell, circa December, 2009.

This whole JaMarcus-has-seen-the-light storyline grew legs when the purportedly retired Willie Brown went on CSN Bay Area's "Chronicle Live" show Monday afternoon and told host Greg Papa, who is also the radio "Voice of the Raiders," Russell has been working out in Arizona, watching his diet and shedding pounds.

But Russell was not at the first day of voluntary workouts Monday, prompting an anonymous starter to call him "a horror show" and another to warn "don't hold your breath" for him to show up, to Blanco of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Brown said Russell was home in Alabama, trying to close his house.

Making things more interesting - Charlie Frye has signed his "original draft pick" tender and is also in Alameda, working out alongside the People's QB, Bruce Gradkowski. And remember, coach Tom Cable has insisted the starting quarterback job is an open competition.

Maybe I'm giving Russell too much credit here. Maybe his showing up is not about common sense; maybe it's simply about that most primal of instincts - survival.

In any event, here's hoping Russell got a clue from last year's mess. Otherwise, the Raiders would be wise to cut him and eat the remainder of that six-year, $61-million contract ($31.5 million guaranteed) they signed him to in 2007. He is reportedly owed a base salary of $9.45 million in 2010.

March 12, 2010
T.O. a possible Raider? G-Money too expensive; Fargas to attend banquet

Take a day off and all Hades breaks loose...

ESPN floated the "Terrell Owens-could-be-a-Raider" story today and the knee-jerk reactions were predictable.

The more I thought about it, the more I thought about the story I wrote last year, when T.O. was looking for a job after the Cowboys kicked him to the curb. Only difference now is Raiders fans would probably enjoy T.O. throwing JaMarcus Russell under a bus, figuratively, of course.

Following is the story I write that ran on March 6, 2009...

Owens runs typical route;
DISCARDED IN DALLAS, OAKLAND A POSSIBLE OPTION

BYLINE: Paul Gutierrez
pgutierrez@sacbee.com

Got your popcorn ready, Raider Nation? Can you handle a force so disruptive, a yapping mouth so loud, an ego so obnoxious it's not only burned bridges in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Dallas but also scorched the earth?

Of course the ultra-inclusive enclave that is Silver and Blackdom can board Terrell Owens. At least you think you can. Shunned bad boy finds a home and thrives in Al Davis' Boys Town for wayward and lost NFL souls is a tale so rich, it has become cliche.

Yes, T.O., who loves him some, um, him, even as the Cowboys grew weary of his antics, would look awesome in silver and black. And he'd give JaMarcus Russell the elite receiver the young quarterback needs to further his development. So, on one hand, the Raiders going after Owens makes all the sense in the world. In fact, it makes too much sense. So much it makes no sense at all.

Owens is a Hall of Fame talent unafraid to go across the middle of the field -- unlike a certain former Raiders receiver, malcontent by the name of Moss ... Randy Moss. But while Owens gained gallons of goodwill for his gutsy broken-ankle performance in Super Bowl XXXIX, nearly leading the Eagles to an upset of New England, T.O. also is a first-ballot Hall of Shamer.

The rebuilding Raiders need Owens' game-breaking gifts, not T.O.'s team-killing rifts. Too bad they come in the same quixotic package.

"He's a very talented guy, but his reputation is suspect, and the Raiders need to move forward," said former Raiders coach Tom Flores, who should know, having led two teams filled with misfits and castoffs to Super Bowl titles.

"The Raiders have a lot of good, young players; they don't need distractions."
Indeed, T.O. would throw his own quarterback under the bus as soon as he'd grab a Sharpie, or some pom-poms or a bucket of Jiffy Pop.

Lest we forgot how he trashed Jeff Garcia and Donovan McNabb to the nth degree in the testosterone-filled sports world by questioning the former's sexuality and the latter's, um, toughness. Even after weeping tears of support for Tony Romo, T.O. turned on Jessica Simpson's boy toy.

And you thought Warren Sapp was the "QB Killa." The Animal House Raiders of Lyle Alzado and John Matuszak would not accept a me-first prima donna pass catcher. And the recycling plant of Plunkett and Co. should spit out T.O.'s baggage.

No, the hyper-sensitive Russell does not need this. Unless ... could a humbled T.O. have his lesson in suffering the indignity of being cut by a franchise more loosey-goosey than the Raiders?

At least he has a fan in former Raiders receiving great Tim Brown, who recently told me, "I love watching T.O. play."

So where does he go from here? The Big Apple seems natural, the only market large enough to sustain his ego, and the Giants need a game-breaking receiver who won't shoot himself in the leg while clubbing.

The nation's capital might be interesting, what with Washington's spendthrift owner, Daniel Snyder, always eager to make a splash. Alas, even with a new White House occupant, "hope" and "change" have never really applied to T.O.

The most intriguing new address for him might have been where it all began. But the 49ers re-marrying Owens had to be part of a three-step plan.

One that started with signing Kurt Warner. Then inking Owens, who would have respected a fellow Canton-bound player. And finally, drafting USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, who won't be ready to run a team for two or three years, anyway.

See, even discussing T.O.'s immediate future elicits more than a craving for popcorn.

Pass the Maalox.

Call The Bee's Paul Gutierrez, (916) 326-5556.

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What had been rumored became reality as the Raiders cut high-priced defensive tackle Gerard Warren, who was reportedly due a $5.925 million option bonus this coming Sunday.

Should the Raiders not re-sign "G-Money," who had a career low-tying two sacks, with 25 tackles, at a discounted price, that opens up more time for last year's surprise, undrafted Ivy League rookie Desmond Bryant from Harvard.

And with the release earlier in the week of veteran defensive end Greg Ellis, it would seem as though the Raiders could stand to draft a pass-rushing lineman like Georgia Tech's Derrick Morgan or Florida's Carlos Dunlap.

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Awkward, anyone?

Was told today by a source that recently-cut running back Justin Fargas will indeed attend Saturday night's "Commitment to Excellence Awards Dinner and Ceremony" at the Oakland Airport Hilton.

Fargas and tight end Zach Miller were the co-winners of the award.

March 10, 2010
L.J. to visit Raiders?

Interesting that a day after recently-cut running back Justin Fargas was scheduled to visit Kansas City, former Chiefs back Larry Johnson was reportedly scheduled to visit the Raiders this coming Sunday. This according to profootballtalk.com

Johnson has been tormenting the Raiders in the mold of former Chargers tailback LaDainian Tomlinson for years.

In 10 career games against the Raiders while playing for the division rival Chiefs, Johnson rushed for 938 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. He was shown the door in Kansas City midway through last season - he raised hackles with criticism of first-year coach Todd Haley and with homophobic remarks aimed at a reporter on Twitter - and was picked up by Cincinnati but was a shell of his former self.

A two-time Pro Bowler and 2006 All-Pro, Johnson rushed for 1,750 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2005 and for 1,789 yards and 17 TDs in 2006. Since then, though, Johnson has a combined 1,611 rushing yards with nine total TDs while battling injury and attitude problems.

No doubt Michael Bush and Darren McFadden are interested in this report.

March 8, 2010
Fargas gone, Walker and Ellis joining him?

Having already cut running back Justin Fargas loose in advance of his making a reported $1.7-million roster bonus and his being presented a "Commitment to Excellence" award this Saturday, the Raiders have now reportedly cut wide receiver Javon Walker and defensive end Greg Ellis. That's according to a Tweet by ESPN's Adam Schefter.

No official word from the Raiders, who claimed Fargas was cut do to a failed physical. Fargas had an issue with that explanation and is scheduled to visit the Kansas City Chiefs this week.

March 5, 2010
Raiders confirm Barnes re-signing, announce hiring of Ross as assistant

Besides officially announcing the re-signing of offensive tackle Khalif Barnes earlier this evening, the Raiders have also announced the hiring of former longtime defensive back Kevin Ross as an assistant coach.

"We are incredibly excited to add Kevin to our coaching staff," coach Tom Cable said in a team release. "He had a long and successful playing career and earned the respect of every team he joined along the way and we are fortunate to have him here."

Ross has worked five seasons in Minnesota and San Diego but was last in the NFL in 2008. And while he has no specific job title with the Raiders as of yet, he was the Chargers' assistant secondary and quality control coach two seasons ago. Sounds an awful lot like the duties once held by Randy Hanson, no?

March 5, 2010
Barnes' reported re-signing a quizzical, inspired move

At first glance, the Raiders' reported re-signing of Khalif Barnes today to kick off their free-agent season seems to make as much sense as slapping a 1st- and 3rd-round tender on Stanford Routt. That is, not much sense at all.

Remember, Barnes played in just six games last season with two starts, was inactive for nine games and was active but DNP in the season finale against Baltimore after being one of the Raiders' highest profile offseason acquisitions.

He was expected to beat out Mario Henderson at left tackle, where Barnes started 57 of the 60 games he appeared in for Jacksonville from 2005 through 2008, but a broken left ankle in training camp slowed him. And when he did make his Raiders debut, against the Jets in that 38-0 shellacking, it was his first NFL start at right tackle, in place of the injured Cornell Green.

Barnes was bullrushed by Calvin Pace and ended up flat on his back with his feet memorably in an airborne Pace's midsection as Pace strip-sacked JaMarcus Russell inside the Raiders' 5-yard line...ON THE FIRST PLAY OF THE GAME.

And yet...I like this move. I like it a lot.

Come again? The training camp injury severely hindered Barnes' development in the Raiders' zone-blocking scheme. And by the time he was ready to contribute, it was at a position - right tackle - he had not played since at least his college days with the Washington Huskies.

Beyond that, and not to seem harsh, but scouts seem to think he is a better all-around O-lineman than Green, who is seemingly on his way out of town as one of the team's five free agents with six or more accrued seasons subject to the CBA's "Final Eight Plan" rules and can sign with any club, with no compensation due the Raiders.

Improved offensive line play is a must for the Raiders and with a fresh, healthy and re-focused Barnes in the fold, it makes sense. Because even when he was inactive for most of the late season, he never checked out mentally. Who can forget the scene of a shorts and T-shirt-wearing Barnes on the frozen Cleveland sidelines in late December, imploring his teammates? I'm sure he wore the same getup in frigid Denver a few weeks earlier.

Good locker room guy? Indeed.

"Whenever there's adversity, and things aren't going your way and your back's up against the wall, and everybody's out to get you and against you, a coward would turn his head, tuck his tail, and walk off," Barnes told me last season. "You find out what a man is made of when he goes through his hardest hours, when his team goes through its darkest hours.

"Those kind of moments really define a person and lets you know what a person is made of."

Accountability? Barnes had that, too.

"Unacceptable," Barnes said after the Jets' Pace owned him. "I take full responsibility for that. You can't let the quarterback get hit on the first play of the game because that would do something to their psyche...that first touchdown's all on me. That first play is going to haunt me."

Now, it would appear, he has a chance to exorcize that ghost, and more, with a fresh start.

**************************************************************

So now that it appears the Raiders have addressed their offensive line, do they, ahem, still draft an O-lineman like Rutgers' Anthony Davis with the No. 8 overall pick?

Howze about USC safety Taylor Mays and his blazing 40 time, and suspect hands, getting tabbed and being converted to an outside linebacker?

March 5, 2010
All quiet on Raiders' free agency front...for now; Nnamdi staying put?; JaMarcus roster bonus puts him at risk?

All seems quiet on the Raiders' front on the first day of uncapped NFL free agency.

In fact, only six of the 531 free agents have reportedly been scooped up thus far - defensive end Julius Peppers, an unrestricted free agent who left Carolina for Chicago, defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, a UFA who went from Tennessee to Detroit, wide receiver Nate Burleson, a UFA who went from Seattle to Detroit and running back Chester Taylor, a UFA who went from Minnesota to Chicago.

Plus, a pair of free agents - UFA linebacker Gary Brackett and restricted free agent fullback Leonard Weaver - were re-signed by their teams, Indianapolis and Philadelphia, respectively.

So what does it mean for the Raiders?

It would appear as though they've learned their lesson from throwing obscene amounts of cash at free agents in 2005 - paging Derrick Burgess and LaMont Jordan - and in 2008 - Et tu, Kwame Harris, Gibril Wilson, Javon Walker? - and getting nothing in terms of W's in return.

But in an uncapped year, where there is essentially no ceiling and no floor, it would also seem the Raiders want to build through the draft. Meaning with a trade market frenzy that is expected to envelop the league shortly (Anquan Boldin from Arizona to Baltimore already), the Raiders would be more than willing to trade players for draft picks.

Which is why the Nnamdi Asomugha-on-the-trading-block rumors refuse to die.

Still, in any Asomugha blockbuster, you'd expect the Raiders to want a similarly already-established star in return. But who out there could take on his gargantuan contract, Washington? Dallas? Seattle? The New York Yankees?

And who would the Raiders see as an equal talent in return? Albert Haynesworth? DeMarcus Ware? Lofa Tatupu? A-Rod?

But I digress...

Something else to keep an eye on is if/when JaMarcus Russell, who has already said he will not restructure his contract, is due a roster bonus and how much it's worth, as well as if it's tied to the remainder of his contract becoming guaranteed. He's already guaranteed some $9-plus million this year.

The reason? Shortly before such a bonus/guarantee fully "vests" would be the logical time for the Raiders to cut him, should they choose to go that route.

I'm not saying they're going to cut bait with him, I'm just sayin'....

************************************************************

And the final list of the Raiders' 14 restricted free agents and the tenders, if any, they were offered by Friday's deadline:

Quarterbacks
Charlie Frye - original, 3rd round
Bruce Gradkowski - 2nd round
J.P. Losman - none, unrestricted free agent

Running backs
Luke Lawton - right of first refusal
Gary Russell - none, UFA

Offensive linemen
Khalif Barnes - none, UFA
Chris Morris - original, 7th round

Long snapper
Jon Condo - 2nd round

Linebackers
Jon Alston - none, UFA
Ricky Brown - 2nd round
Thomas Howard - 2nd round
Kirk Morrison - original, 3rd round

Defensive backs
Hiram Eugene, 2nd round
Stanford Routt, 1st and 3rd round

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In addition, the Raiders have five free agents with six or more accrued seasons who are subject to the CBA's "Final Eight Plan" rules and can sign with any team with no compensation due the Raiders:

Offensive linemen
Cornell Green
Langston Walker
Jon Wade

Defensive tackle
William Joseph

Linebacker
Sam Williams

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Still confused? Then click here and read the NFL's official release on the current state of free agency.

March 4, 2010
"Excellence" co-award winner Fargas on the chopping block?

File this under "potentially awkward moment."

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported this morning that he expected the Raiders to cut running back Justin Fargas and defensive tackle Gerard Warren before respective roster bonus payments are due later this month. Sounds like a sound money-saving move that can salvage any hurt egos via resigning or restructuring contracts, right?

Well, Fargas, along with tight end Zach Miller, is the guest of honor at the team's Commitment to Excellence awards dinner on March 13.

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According to some fine math work by Jerry Mac, the Raiders are already on the hook for close to $60 million due just 16 players in 2010, not counting the impending No. 8 pick in the draft.

March 3, 2010
Raiders doling out second-round tenders; 8 of 14 restricted free agents spoken for

By all reports, and accompanying appearances, the Raiders like what they have and want to bring back what they deem as important pieces in their rebuilding project.

Why else, then, would they assign so many high-priced tags - five second-round tenders - to players that could conceivably be retained for so much less?

Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, Pro Bowl long snapper Jon Condo, safety Hiram Eugene and linebackers Ricky Brown and Thomas Howard were the recipients of the second-round tenders. Fair enough, because it means the Raiders have the first right of refusal to match any offers made to the players or receive second-round draft picks as compensation should they leave.

But the tender that had many scratching their collective heads was the first- and third-round tender bestowed upon cornerback Stanford Routt, who has started a mere 22 of the 75 games he's played in while picking up two sacks and four interceptions since being a second-round draft pick out of Houston in 2005.

On one hand, it seems as though the Raiders have overinflated the worth of several of their players. On the other, if that's who they want to keep...

They put seemingly more reasonable "original draft pick" tenders on middle linebacker Kirk Morrison (who was selected in the third round) and offensive lineman Chris Morris (a seventh rounder).

That means the Raiders still have six restricted free agents with which they have to decide whether or not to tender offers to by Thursday's 1 p.m. deadline. Otherwise, quarterbacks Charlie Frye and J.P. Losman, running back Gary Russell, suspended fullback Luke Lawton, offensive lineman Khalif Barnes and linebacker Jon Alston become unrestricted free agents.

*****************************************************************

Looking for a primer on what an uncapped year means for the NFL in 2010? Check out PFT's 20 Questions.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/03/03/20-questions-about-the-uncapped-year/

March 2, 2010
Second-round tender on Gradkowski would jumpstart QB competition

So Tom Cable is still the head coach - until further notice, if there is any announcement to be made - and he's rightfully acting like one. The best news to come out of the Combine for Raiders fans, then, is that Cable announced an open competition at quarterback.

Meaning JaMarcus Russell is going to have to work for it and will be handed nothing, as far as Cable is concerned. But as the only QB currently under contract, who will Russell compete against? Well, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, The People's QB Bruce Gradkowski is all but signed-sealed-and-delivered to return to the Raiders. Blanco reported that Cable told Gradkowski's agent at the Combine that the Raiders would place a second-round tender on Gradkowski in advance of Thursday's deadline unless, of course, a long-term deal is agreed upon first.

Should the second-round tender happen, the Raiders then have the right to match any contract offer by any other team or accept a second-round draft pick as compensation for losing Gradkowski. If Gradkowski accepts the tender, he'll earn $1.759 million for 2010 and to compete with Russell for the starting gig.

Good news for fans tired of Russell's lax work ethic - maybe this fires him up? - and in awe of Gradkowski's lunch pail mentality.

The other restricted free agents in a potential uncapped year the Raiders have to make a decision on by Thursday: linebackers Jon Alston, Ricky Brown, Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison, cornerback Stanford Routt, safety Hiram Eugene, offensive linemen Khalif Barnes and Chris Morris, quarterbacks Charlie Frye and J.P. Losman, running back Gary Russell and suspended fullback Luke Lawton.

**********************************************************

And some good news for the "traditionalists" amongst you: the Pro Bowl is returning to Hawaii. The catch - it still going to be played the week before the Super Bowl, making the trek from Honolulu to Arlington, Texas for Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium a somewhat arduous, albeit, rewarding one.

Television ratings and the accompanying enthusiasm combined with history to make the switch a reality.

"Playing the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl generated more excitement and interest in the event and also kicked off Super Bowl week in an innovative new way," said Frank Supovitz, the NFL's senior vice president of events. "We are pleased to return to the state of Hawaii, which has embraced the Pro Bowl for 30 years."

Maybe, except that players from the Super Bowl-playing teams won't be involved again.



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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