Inside slant

The acquisition of Randy Moss (via trade) aside, it suddenly looks like the Raiders are taking a step back from their prior free agent approach.

They've gone from big name to big potential. From well-fed, to hungry.

That certainly describes their two major acquisitions so far -- running back LaMont Jordan and defensive end Derrick Burgess.

Jordan has never so much as rushed 20 times in a regular season game but is being given a chance (actually more like a command) to be Oakland's money back in 2005.

Since being drafted in the third round in 2001, Burgess has 15 NFL starts, 45 career tackles and 2.5 sacks. He posted six sacks his rookie year but missed the 2003 season with an Achilles injury.

There are no guarantees with this crop of 2005 free agents ... but then there were no guarantees when the Raiders made a big splash, mostly from the dollar bills, with Warren Sapp, Ted Washington, Bill Romanowski, Trace Armstrong, Jeff George, Russell Maryland and Larry Brown.

There have been winners, too. There was Jerry Rice, who served well when others discounted him due to age. There was John Parrella, who had one very big season before injuries took their toll.

But it is worth noting that among their bigger scores were not the superstars but the players who became superstars once the Raiders signed them.

An example was tackle Lincoln Kennedy, rescued from a fate worse than grits in Atlanta in 1996. Despite a weight problem that saw him skyrocket to 400 pounds, he slid in under the radar in Oakland and became a Pro Bowl player.

Another was quarterback Rich Gannon. It is easy to forget now that when he departed Kansas City in 1999 he had never quarterbacked a team for a full season in his previous 12 seasons. Three years and four Pro Bowls later he was the league's unquestioned MVP.

Jordan and Burgess fall more into the Kennedy/Gannon mold as "no-name" players. Now it's up to them to show their stuff rather than leave behind the stuff they did elsewhere.

NOTES

--RB LaMont Jordan and DE Derrick Burgess might not arrive in Oakland with name recognition but they won't arrive poor.

Jordan, despite never having been a starter, got a $27.5 million contract over five years.

Burgess, a player the Eagles didn't fight hard enough to keep, arrives with a five-year contract worth $14 million.

Jordan can't wait to do the proving but he now admits he wasn't ready when he first arrived in the league.

"I came into the NFL four years ago and always have been told I had the talent but I didn't have everything I needed to carry the load," Jordan concedes.

"I've been in New York for four years and learned from Curtis (Martin) and from Richie (Anderson) ... not only do I have the talent, but now I have the knowledge of what it takes and what it means to be a pro.

"There's the work ethic, an ability to pick up an offense quickly and understand a game plan. Those are things I was able to pick up my four years in New York."

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

FRANCHISE PLAYER

--CB Charles Woodson (tendered at $10.541M).

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--S Jarrod Cooper has value as a special teams player and was an energetic, if occasionally mistake-prone, wild card sub on defense. He kept nose clean after some troubles with the law in Carolina. Worth another look.

--RB Chris Downs (not tendered as ERFA).

--RB J.R. Redmond was a virtual unknown until the Raiders favored him as a third-down receiver this year. He still flies under the radar of most clubs and is likely to be back.

--OT Chad Slaughter is a long-time deep sub with virtually no action. He's stuck due to his 6-8, 340-pound build but has never really come into his own. Figure he returns only under minimum salary conditions. --SS David Terrell isn't a major need assuming the return of injured SS Derrick Gibson although he could get a sniff if '04 starter Courtney Anderson is given his release.

--RB Amos Zereoue showed little aside from a 60-yard touchdown run in Week 4 at Houston. He will not be a priority to re-sign and probably will only be of interest to other teams as a backup.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--SS Marques Anderson (tendered at $656,000 with 3rd-round pick as compensation) served as a last-second September starter with season-ending injury to Derrick Gibson and on occasion showed why Green Bay was willing to let him go back in August with occasional erratic play. Also got involved in an embarrassing public intoxication incident along with Charles Woodson late in the season. Team may not bother to exercise right of first refusal if he gets outside offers.

--LB Tim Johnson (tendered at $656,000 with no compensation) served the club well as a stopgap starter when injuries struck, but has never engendered outside interest in the past and will probably wind up in Raiders camp again with another shot at making the roster.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS

--WR Ronald Curry (tendered at $380,000) is a must-tender former seventh-round pick that developed last year into a big-play wide receiver before tearing his Achilles in the 12th game.

--S Keyon Nash (tendered at $305,000) has been around for several years and will probably continue to do so because of his uncommon size (6-3, 215).

--QB David Rivers (tendered at $230,000) will likely be tendered since the Raiders are shallow at the backup quarterback position.

--WR John Stone (tendered at $305,000) showed some promise late last year after Curry's injury and shows promise as a deep threat.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

--DE Bobby Hamilton: UFA; terms unknown.

--FB Chris Hetherington: UFA; $690,000/1 yr, $25,000 SB; 2005 cap: $455,000.

--WR Jerry Porter (Potential UFA; $20M/5 yrs, SB unknown).

--OG Ron Stone (FA, had been released by Raiders; $12.6M base salaries/5 yrs, SB unknown). PLAYERS ACQUIRED

--DE Derrick Burgess: UFA Eagles; $14M/5 yrs, $6M bonuses.

--RB LaMont Jordan: UFA Jets; $27.5M/5 yrs, $7M SB; 2005 cap: $1.95.

--WR Randy Moss (trade Vikings).

PLAYERS LOST

--CB Ray Buchanan (released).

--LB DeLawrence Grant (released).

--LB Napoleon Harris (traded Vikings).

--OG Frank Middleton (released/failed physical).

--DT John Parrella (released).

--RB Tyrone Wheatley (released/failed physical).

--TE Roland Williams (released).

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.


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