Raiders Notes

The extension of the collective bargaining agreement reached by the owners and NFL Players Association provided considerable operating room for the Oakland Raiders under the 2006 salary cap. Instead of the cap being set at 94.5 million, it will be 102 million.

Just as important in Oakland's case was by removing 2007 as an uncapped year, millions of dollars worth of incentives to some players were removed from the 2006 ledger.

The combination of the new salary cap and removal of incentives magically transformed the Raiders from $11.3 million over the cap on March 5 to $653,000 under the cap on March 9.

The biggest gains came on the contracts of defensive end Bobby Hamilton $5,320,000 million cap figure to $1.75 million) and wide receiver Ronald Curry ($5.04 million cap figure to $1.64 million).

Quarterback Kerry Collins, who also had $1.75 million worth of incentives come off the books to drop his cap figure from $12,897,668 to $11,147,668, was released anyway on Friday. His figure had remained the highest on the teams.

If Collins had been on the Oakland roster five days after the start of the league year, he would have earned a $2.5 million roster bonus. The Raiders will now look for a better option through trade or free agency.

The Raiders' current top-three offseason needs:

1. Guard: For all the attention focused on the problems of tackles Barry Sims and Robert Gallery, Oakland's biggest problem on the offensive line was being susceptible to blitzes up the gut. Assuming the Raiders can get Jake Grove healthy and established at center, there is a need for a strong, young, athletic guard who can provide some push for a strong interior running game and also protect the passer.

2. Running back: There was LaMont Jordan and nothing else as the Raiders finished 28th in the NFL in rushing at 85.7 yards per game. His 1,025 yards rushing in 14 games out of 1,369 yards by the Raiders was 74.8 percent of his team's rushing yards _ the highest figure in the league. Zack Crockett, still a capable back, gained just 208 yards. The Norv Turner regime had little faith in Justin Fargas.

3. Safety: The Raiders could have drafted Ed Reed or Sean Taylor but didn't. They had Rodney Harrison in the building and didn't offer him a contract. They got one last great year out of Rod Woodson in 2002, but other than that have been lacking at safety since returning to Oakland in 1995, instead loading up on cornerbacks. Derrick Gibson, a top draft pick in 2001, was injury prone and not instinctive enough. Jarrod Cooper is a solid special teams player but a backup safety at best.


There are those who wonder whether Al Davis for big talent, will be able to pass if Texas quarterback Vince Young drops to No. 7.

Young doesn't have the gigantic downfield arm of the prototype Raiders quarterback or the drop-back skill in a conventional offense that could unleash the full potential of Randy Moss.

But Davis has long been intrigued by those with a unique skill level, and Young qualifies on that front. Rich Gannon wasn't the prototype Raiders quarterback either, and all he did was win an MVP, set club passing records and author the only three good years the Raiders have had since moving back to Oakland in 1995.

Young would be a Super-Gannon, a quarterback capable of not only moving the chains with steady short gains but also breaking off backbreaking runs. And while Gannon was adept at measuring off a first down and getting it with a slide and an inch to spare, Young could be good for chunks of 20 and 30 yards.

No doubt Young's game against Davis' beloved USC opened his eyes and got him thinking.

Davis' scouting staff includes four men -- Jon Kingdon, Bruce Kebric, Kent McCloughan and Angelo Coia -- with more than 100 combined years of service to the Raiders.


Raiders owner Al Davis, long an NFL antagonist, helped play peacemaker with regard to a collective bargaining agreement.

The Raiders stood to suffer long term if the NFL went to an uncapped system, given their No. 27 ranking in revenue, according to Forbes Magazine.

Davis even suggested to reporters the lack of an agreement could have caused teams to break off into a different league.

"With the need for product in this country, and the numbers that are being paid, it would have been very simple to have a 10-team league," Davis said. "There would have been anarchy. I came because I wanted labor peace. They don't particularly love me, because I'm going to go my own way and do what I think is right. I've fought them, but I also love the league and what's best for football. This needed to get done."

-- The Raiders announced their 2006 coaching staff, with nine returning members and nine newcomers under coach Art Shell.

The nine coaches returning are Fred Biletnikoff (wide receivers), Willie Brown (defensive backs, squad development), Jeff Fish (strength and conditioning), Don Martindale (linebackers), Keith Millard (defensive line), Chuck Pagano (defensive backs), Skip Peete (running backs), Rob Ryan (defensive coordinator) and John Shoop (tight ends).

Pagano, a defensive assistant last year, and Shoop, who was quarterbacks coach, received new assignments.

The new coaches include Ted Daisher (special teams), Irv Eatman (co-offensive line), Robert Ford (quality control-offense), George Martinez (quality control (defense), Tom Walsh (offensive coordinator), Jim McElwain (quarterbacks), Darryl Sims (assistant defensive line), Jackie Slater (co-offensive line) and Lorenzo Ward (assistant defensive backs, assistant special teams).

Daisher, 50, worked as an assistant to special teams coach John Harbaugh in Philadelphia.

-- In deciding to name two offensive line assistants, without one being the offensive line coach, the Raiders are either giving two of their cornerstone offensive linemen more information to choose from or are overloading them with too much information.

Right tackle Robert Gallery, the No. 2 pick in the 2004 draft, and Jake Grove, a second-round pick that same year, have played their first two seasons essentially out of position.

Gallery was picked to be the left tackle of the future, with Grove being groomed to take over at center. Gallery has instead played on the right side, with Barry Sims retaining the left tackle spot, while Grove has played as much guard as center.

Gallery and Grove played under Aaron Kromer in 2004, and Jim Colletto in 2005.

Kromer left for Tampa Bay after the Raiders finished 32nd in rushing. Colletto who had success with a run-blocking line in Baltimore, improved things only marginally in 2005, as the Raiders were 28th in rushing and surrendered 45 sacks.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't know what you mean by contentious. No one hit anybody. People were yelling a little bit. But that's part of life. The idea is to go in and get something done," Raiders owner Al Davis, when asked if the owners meeting concerning the CBA was contentious.




UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: S Calvin Branch; S Jarrod Cooper; RB Omar Easy; TE Zeron Flemister; S Derrick Gibson; LB/DE DeLawrence Grant; DB Renaldo Hill; OG Corey Hulsey; DT Ed Jasper; LB Tim Johnson; OT Chad Slaughter; DT Kenny Smith; S Reggie Tongue; CB Charles Woodson.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DE/LB Grant Irons; DT Terdell Sands.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: TE James Adkisson; DT Anttaj Hawthorne; DE Tommy Kelly; OT Brad Lekkerkerker.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: TE Randal Williams.


PLAYERS LOST: QB Kerry Collins; CB Denard Walker; DT Ted Washington.

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