In a conference call with Bay Area reporters Friday, Raiders first-year head coach Bill Callahan said the team would welcome Allen back with open arms should he decide to return. Callahan added that Oakland has set no deadline for Allen to make a decision, even though it might affect the Raiders strategy for the upcoming draft. ''It would be great to have him back,'' said Callahan.
''He's welcome back here. There's no timetable on that. Eric's free to do what he wants at this juncture.'' Allen has said in the past that he is eager to devote more time with his three young sons. He has put off retirement each of the last two seasons in part because he felt the Raiders had legitimate shots at making the Super Bowl.
Though Callahan sounded confident Allen would indeed be back for the 2002 season the Raiders have nevertheless signed free agent cornerback Terrance Shaw. Shaw and Tory James provide Oakland with a bit of insurance should Allen opt to step aside.