Dr. J's Mailbox 2/24/03

Just some random thoughts before we begin: <br><br> Mike Tyson doesn't want to fight, if you're looking for the next Michael Jordan, his name is Tiger Woods, Annika should play, but I think she'll miss the cut, Kobe Bryant for MVP if the Lakers make the playoffs, I think the Minnesota Twins can win the World Series, and for some of the Raider fans that wrote in, please learn to spell…<br><br> And now, on to the letters!

You need to do more research on the Raiders' cap situation. They can shave almost $35 million by cutting some very expensive and very replaceable players (Dorsett, Russell, Adams, Upshaw, Kirby, James...). After that, it's a matter of restructuring contracts of guys who want to be Raiders. Fortunately, there are several of those types in Oakland (Romo, Brown, Rice, R. Woodson, Gannon, Parella, Kennedy...).

Greg Bell from Dayton, OH

These are the numbers that I've found on the web.

Possibly cut: Possible Renegotiations:
Player Savings Player 2003 Salary
DT Sam Adams $9.166M DE Trace Armstrong $2.4 million
S Anthony Dorsett $2.8M WR Tim Brown $6M
CB Tory James $5.7M QB Rich Gannon $2.333M
WR James Jett $975,000 RB Charlie Garner $3.67 million
RB Terry Kirby $3.975M OL Lincoln Kennedy $4.507 million
DT Darrell Russell $8.160M DT John Parrella $2 million
DE Regan Upshaw $3.2M WR Jerry Rice $2.333M
OL Barry Sims $4.025 million
DB Rod Woodson $1.7 million

I've read that the Raiders are $48M dollars over the projected $73M salary cap. Cutting these players listed above would still leave them $13M over. I understand that there are many players that could be willing to renegotiate their contracts, but as you can see, there is quite a bit of money to give up for many of these players. And even if these players make cap friendly numbers, there's still the two #1 picks that will come in the summer, the nine free agents that the Raiders have yet to sign, signing Charles Woodson to an extension before his deal expires at the end of the year, Jerry Porter who's only making $465K may want a negotiation, and then there's Barrett Robbins. According to ESPN.com, Robbins is scheduled to make $3.25 million this season and releasing him before June will move up a $3.1M signing bonus. The Raiders save nothing and gain nothing by releasing him.

The Raiders had a great run this season, there's no doubting that. But their cap problems will hurt their overall depth and experience on the roster. As good as their key players have been, their key players are yet another year older. I just think that their best days are behind them.

Which players have most impressed you and most improved their draft status from what you have heard or read about the combines this week? Do you have any insight into which players the Chargers may have chosen to interview, or who will work out individually for the Bolts?

Jon from Mastic, NY

John Butler tends to keep his cards close to his chest and so there isn't much news coming out of Chargers' headquarters. But by most accounts, the Chargers will be looking to get one of the stud defensive tackles that fall down to them at 15. Kevin Williams from Oklahoma State and Jonathon Sullivan from Georgia are two of the names floating around. There's also names like safety Troy Polamalu from USC and WR's Kelley Washington from Tennessee or Teyo Johnson from Stanford being considered because of the uncertain status surrounding Rodney Harrison and Curtis Conway.

As for those moving up on the boards, QB Kyle Boller from Cal has had an impressive showing and could move into the latter half of the 1st round, WR Andre Johnson from Miami who's shown some "Michael Irvin" like skills, and believe it or not, RB Willis McGahee is expected to make a full recovery from major knee surgery much sooner than expected and could be picked as early as the second round.

What exactly should the Cowboys do with Emmitt Smith? I mean, this guy has been the heart and soul of this team and I think he's got some left in the tank. Do you think he will stay?

Andy in Dallas

It's basically up to Smith. The Cowboys need some cap relief and if he would be willing to take a major cut in pay, he should remain with the Cowboys. Frankly, I don't know why Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells are so willing to let Smith go. Do they really want to go with Troy Hambrick as their #1 back? Besides, the problem isn't Smith, it's their offensive line.

Since Curtis Conway refused to renegotiate his deal and players like Peerless Price and David Boston are probably going to be franchise tagged, where do the Chargers go to solve their wide receiver problems?

Ryan in San Diego

I've soured on Conway personally over the years, mainly because of his inability to stay healthy. After watching Doug Flutie, a reported team cancer during his time in Buffalo, gladly renegotiate his deal to help the team, Conway lost me completely with this refusal. The Chargers will probably have to look at lesser options like Darren Chiaverini, Bobby Ingram, or possibly Orande Gadsen, if they are looking for a free agent and look to next season to find a top notch WR via free agency or the draft.

I'm curious to know how did Carson Palmer move so far ahead of Byron Leftwich in the draft guides? I mean, earlier in the season, Leftwich was the consensus #1 pick and Palmer was not even mentioned. Is this just Heisman Hype all over again?

Terrance in Huntington, West Virginia

Huntington huh? You must be a graduate of or a current student at Marshall University…

I all honesty, I don't know how Palmer moved so far ahead of Leftwich. Palmer had just one good season in college after being dubbed as the next franchise QB when he came to USC. Palmer's a pocket passer much like Drew Bledsoe is and while a very capable passer, I would assume that teams are looking to build around a more athletic passer to offset the bigger, faster, and stronger defensive players playing in defenses around the NFL. Leftwich fits that mold better, is just as strong a passer, and after his performance this season, has tons and tons of guts. If I were the Bengals, I would trade down with Chicago to the #4 pick overall, pick up a draft pick or a player or two in the deal, and get who I think is the better of the two QB's, Leftwich.

Also check out Recent Envelopes in the Mailbox:

Mailbox for the week of February 17th

Mailbox for the week of February 10th

Mailbox for the week of February 3rd

Thanks to all writing in, please feel free to drop me a line regarding any matter, and your comments could be the next ones published. Please make sure to leave your name and city of residence so we can accurately credit your questions.

Dr. J answers readers' questions in his weekly column exclusively at Chargers Update. He can be reached at charmeljun@hotmail.com and welcome letters of any kind. Dr. J can also be reached via the following link: Dr. J's Mailbox

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