Rumor Mill: Burgess Could Still Be Traded

Is Derrick Burgess still a possibility for teams looking for defensive help? Some rumblings coming from Raider Nation are encouraging signs for teams still in need of a pass rushing talent. New England could very well be in the market for Burgess -- at the right price.

Derrick Burgess took his discontent to the next level with the %%MATCH_7%%. Burgess has been a no-show at all voluntary functions for the past few years. This season, he didn't report for training camp and no one is sure if he ever will.

"We're moving on," Raiders coach Tom Cable said, declining to discuss the issue earlier.

Burgess is due $2 million in salary and has already been paid a $1.5 million roster bonus in the last year of a five-year contract he signed as a free agent.

He had 16 sacks as a rookie, and has seen his totals drop to 11, 8.5 and 3.5 over the past three years.

When the Raiders signed free agent %%MATCH_4%% after he was cut by Dallas, he was immediately installed at Burgess' starting left end spot. "Greg Ellis is our left end," Cable said.

There were trade rumors in the offseason, including one that would have sent Burgess to the %%MATCH_6%% as pass rushing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. So far, those rumors are just rumors. But with each passing day, and the continued holdout of Burgess, it's increasingly more plausible that Oakland unloads the discontented pass rusher.

%%MATCH_3%% v Derrick Burgess
%%MATCH_8%% quarterback Jay Cutler, left, passes in front of Oakland Raiders defensive end Derrick Burgess (56) in the first quarter of their NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 2, 2007. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

The compensation to acquire Burgess is dropping. Some early reports indicated the Raiders would be willing to surrender Burgess for a second round pick, while more recent reports indicate multiple mid round picks would be enough. NFL reporter Adam Schefter tweeted this week that he believes a team can acquire Burgess for a third and a fourth round pick.

New England may be unwilling to pay more for Burgess than they did to acquire Randy Moss - an early fourth round pick. The Raiders are unlikely to accept so little from New England. It's no secret the Raiders felt burned by the Moss trade and don't wish to be taken advantage of again.

A second or third round pick would seem fair compensation for Burgess, until you consider that he is in the final year of his current contract which pays him $2 million salary. He's looking for a big money deal after the season, which continues to push his price even lower to potential suitors. Burgess turns 31 this month that limits his opportunity to cash in on his past success. At best he has one big payday left.

Burgess has good reason to believe he can sign a lucrative deal in the off-season. Despite reports that he's "had a bad couple of years," Burgess still has better numbers than other outside linebackers who signed big free agent contracts.

In eight seasons, the 6-foot-2, 260-pound defender has recorded 47 sacks in 85 games. Compare those numbers to Patriots LB Adalius Thomas who managed 45 sacks in 112 games at the same age.

Thomas signed a 5-year, $35 million contract in 2007, playing his first season in New England as a 30-year old. Even with Burgess's $4 million cap number, the veteran has a legitimate concern that he is underpaid in comparison to Thomas.

According to Schefter's post, the Patriots would have to surrender picks worth approximately 200-240 points on the Trade Value Chart (assuming the Patriots finish in the playoffs). The team has one pick the third and one in the fourth, but 3 picks in the second round.

Michael Wagaman, beat writer for Silver & Black Illustrated (the Raiders publisher at Scout.com) has a different opinion on the Burgess situation. Wagaman suggested that the Oakland may just hold on to players when they don't feel compensation is adequate. The team has even been known to refuse a trade offer during the off-season, and then cut the player later. Burgess could end up being one of those situations; though it's unlikely the team would cut him loose. They may make him ride the bench instead.

The Patriots continue flirting with the idea of adding defensive lineman at this point. Stryker Sulak was in town for a visit last week, and Kevin Carter this week. Reports indicate Carter could be close to signing a deal.

Should carter sign on, it wouldn't eliminate the possibility that Burgess ends up in New England, but it would be a significant indication that the Patriots are more interested in putting extra bodies on the line, than in the linebacker corps.

Either way, Burgess still hasn't reported to camp and the Raiders are intent to use Greg Ellis as their starting end. Raiders coach Cable expressed confidence this week in the team's ability to move on with Ellis as their starter.

"I think this, we signed him for a purpose," Cable said when asked if Ellis was there to take Burgess' spot on the line even if Burgess were attending camp. "Where it all worked out will [still] be decided."

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