Some Players Back Norv Turner

Quarterback Kerry Collins has publicly stated his support for Raiders coach Norv Turner. So have several members of the defense, including linebacker Danny Clark who says he's willing to form a committee of players to talk to owner Al Davis about Oakland's head coaching situation. But unless his team does something big in these final two weeks, the odds of Turner returning for a third year will continue to shrink.

Turner himself has refused to talk about his coaching future with the Raiders, instead opting to focus on Oakland's upcoming opponent. With the prospect of going winless in the AFC West, though, and the very real possibility of ending the season on a six-game losing streak, it's becoming increasingly difficult for Turner to ignore.

''Every year every team changes and there's additions you need to make,'' Turner said. ''You evaluate and say, 'Hey we have to get better in this area.' Obviously there's a lot of evaluation that's going to be done here.''

In addition to Turner the Raiders face big decisions with their quarterback situation and with the offensive line. Collins is scheduled to get a fat raise to nearly $13 million in 2006, an issue he spoke about earlier this week when he acknowledged he would likely have to restructure his deal in order to remain in Oakland.

If the team opts to keep Collins it's all but certain backup Marques Tuiasosopo will be gone, either through trade or by being released, something he's reportedly ready to ask the Raiders for in the offseason.

No matter who is Oakland's quarterback next year, however, the Raiders must first address their deficiencies across the offensive line. Thought to be a strength of the team at the beginning of the season, the offensive line has emerged as a serious weakness and a problem Davis must correct in the offseason.

There are other issues as well.

The Raiders are reportedly going to be more than $20 million over the projected salary cap next season, meaning that if Oakland's management doesn't start doing some quick pencil pushing, the team won't be able to do much maneuvering once free agency starts.

Fifteen Raiders players will be eligible for free agency, most notably defensive back Charles Woodson.

Woodson has been the team's franchise player since 2004 and is earning more than $10 million this year. He has not played since suffering a broken leg early in the season and despite Turner's optimistic attitude, Woodson has not returned to the playing field.

The question is will Woodson ever play for the Raiders again? Because Oakland needs to trim a lot from its 2006 payroll, Davis might deem Woodson too expensive to re-sign. If the team were to franchise Woodson again, it would cost the team an estimated $12 million to do so, money that could be spent patching up the numerous other holes the team has.

Oakland's other pending free agents are safeties Reynaldo Hill, Jarrod Cooper and Reggie Tongue, defensive tackle Ed Jasper, linebackers Grant Irons, DeLawrence Grant and Tim Johnson, tight ends Randall Williams and Zeron Flemister, defensive tackles Terdell Sands and Kenny Smith, offensive linemen Corey Hulsey and Chad Slaughter and running back Omar Easy.


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