Thursday, March 6, 2008

New look Raiders or same old story? Part Two

By Rick Richardson - Self proclaimed Raider expert

Al Davis seems to be going back to the philosophy of reloading instead of rebuilding. Let’s take a look at the reloading and the unloading of the Raider’s roster.

- Gibril Wilson signs after a Super Bowl victory with the New York Giants. This satisfies Al’s yearly penchant for Super Bowl players, but isn’t the typical Larry Brown or Desmond Howard free agent splash. Wilson fills a very important need that has haunted the Raiders since Rod Woodson’s retirement. Wilson is an up and comer similar to Derrick Burgess when he was signed from the Eagles. Both had four years under their belt, decent early careers, and their best years in front of them. Wilson costs some decent green, but the improvement in the secondary should be noticeable immediately. He is a quality safety both in terms of coverage skills and being able to take proper angles and make the tackle.

- Barry Sims is released after a decent if not spectacular career. At times Barry was solid enough, but as of late too many false starts and beatings by speed rushers finally took its toll. The last play from scrimmage this year was a Russell sack where Sims’ man came in untouched, blindsiding the future of the Raiders viciously. In Sims’ defense it looked as if he was performing a down block and quite possibly the running back was supposed to pick up the end, but more than likely in that situation, since it was a straight drop back pass by Russell, Sims missed his assignment. As Russell came off the field you could plainly see the disgusted look on his face. Terrible way to end the season, and if you are Barry Sims possibly the straw that broke the camel’s back. His release doesn’t give much cap relief, but I am sure it helps pay for some of the bonuses that are being thrown at other free agents.

- Free agent losses have not been significant. Chris Clemons probably hurts the most because of his recent development. He had eight sacks during a break out year, but was not worth big coin and it was best to let him go. He was a journeyman that spent 2006 without a team, and quite possibly could disappear again. Porter’s flight could help rid the Raiders of another long time whiner. He could tease you with a one handed circus catch, and then disappear for the rest of the game. His deep speed had diminished and after eight years in the league, I believe he is headed for the downside of his career. His “me first” attitude far outweighed his contributions on the field. Unlike many I hated to see McCown go. He was a very serviceable backup with a gritty nature. It would have been nice to keep him in the wings, but not for the $14 million the Dolphins shelled out. Tyler Brayton’s voiding of his contract was a huge benefit to the Raiders. The Raiders tried Tyler at three different positions with very little success. He disappeared at defensive end. He looked like Kramer from a Seinfeld episode falling into folding chairs when asked to cover speedy backs out of the backfield during his failed attempt as a dinosaur of a linebacker. He was equally as unimpressive as a defensive tackle, making it even more confounding that he opted out of his contract early to pursue his worth in free agency.

So what do we have so far? The additions are adding up to more than the subtractions and that is hard to do in the salary cap era.


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