Position outlook: Cornerback

This is one story in a series of position outlooks pertaining to the Oakland Raiders. Today, we look at cornerback:

Looking back: Much to his dislike, the Oakland Raiders put the franchise tag on Charles Woodson last offseason. The 1997 Heisman Trophy winner then had a 33-day holdout in training camp before signing a one-year tender of close to $9 million dollars. Woodson remained the vital cog in the defense but continued to bring baggage after being arrested when he and teammate Marques Anderson did not leave the backseat of a woman's car in the wee hours of the morning after having a few too many adult beverages.

Unlike 2003, Phillip Buchanon showed up at training camp with much more humility. That season, then his second in the NFL, Buchanon showed up to training up in a limo with a Playboy Medallion around his neck. In 2004, Buchanon played a little bit better but not enormously so. In fact, he stated his desire to be traded.

Nnamdi Asomugha showed some promise in his second season but needs to be more consistent. The Raiders signed Denard Walker and opponents had no problem throwing in his direction.

Looking ahead: In one respect, the performance of this position can only be so good without a pass rush. Then again, there's a $10 million dollar question. Keep in mind, if franchised again Woodson is entitled a 20% raise. What will the Raiders do with Woodson? What the Raiders will do and should do are usually two different things. First, the should do part. One theory suggests that with the rules changes benefiting the offenses, how valuable are cornerbacks? Not very, especially when opposing quarterbacks have enough time to read a journal.

Many people think of Woodson as the defense's saving grace. Not so. They are bad with him. And they are bad without him. The Raiders could slap the franchise tag on him one more time but why have $10 million dollars tied up in a player who has had a good but not great NFL career? Then, there's the whole issue of wide receiver Jerry Porter, who is currently exploring the open market as a free agent. Stay tuned. Keeping Porter over Woodson clearly makes sense but it's not beyond the realm of possibility that owner Al Davis will keep Woodson no matter the cost.

Then there the Buchanon issue. Buchanon has been rumored to be traded to the Minnesota Vikings for mercurial wide receiver Randy Moss. Moss coming to Oakland might not be a crazy idea. After all, the Raiders have never minded bringing in players with baggage. However, why would the Vikings trade an elite receiver for a cornerback who has lived down to his billing two years after the Raiders spent a first-round pick on him? Also, Buchanon was part of the trade package of Jon Gruden so the Raiders are likely to give Buchanon every chance possible.

Regardless of what happens to Woodson or Buchanon, this much is certain. Walker does not warrant keeping, he even struggled as a backup. Asomugha isn't exactly Nate Clements but he's shown enough promise to be a starter.

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com


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