Could trades be key to season?

Josh McCown is the frontrunner to begin the year as the starting quarterback, nurturing JaMarcus Ruseell along the way. He brings Mike Williams along for the ride – in the hopes that the receiver returns to his USC form.

The Oakland Raiders had the spotlight with the No. 1 pick in the draft, but made nearly as much news with two trades involving fourth-round draft picks.

Oakland ended its two-year association with Randy Moss, trading the unhappy former Pro Bowl wide receiver to the New England Patriots for a fourth-round draft pick.

They also picked up potential starting quarterback Josh McCown and wide receiver Mike Williams from the Detroit Lions in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick.

In 29 games over two seasons, Moss caught 102 passes for 1,558 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 2006, Moss' numbers -- 42 catches, 553 yards, three scores -- were the lowest of his career.

In interviews on a regular nationally syndicated radio show, Moss repeatedly expressed his desire to leave Oakland. During one of his few interactions with reporters in Oakland, he said the reason he was dropping so many passes was because he was unhappy.

Kiffin took the high road, saying a deal for Moss had been considered for some time. He wished Moss well and was sure a change of scenery would help his career.

"I feel like we still have one of the better receiving corps in the league," said Ronald Curry. "We still have some talented guys out here."

Deals for McCown and Williams had also been discussed in recent weeks, Kiffin said.

McCown has one year left on his contract and could emerge as the starting quarterback until JaMarcus Russell, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, is ready to play.

"Lane [Kiffin] brings a tremendous energy and leadership to this team and I'm excited to be a part of it," said McCown.

"Not everybody gets the starting job, and we have be there as a cheerleader," Russell said in response to whether he thought the job was his to lose. "We're playing for the same program and the same organization, and we're out there to do the same thing, which is winning, so I'm here for that."

Williams, the No. 10 overall pick in 2005, was a draft bust in Detroit who excelled at Southern California, where he was recruited by Kiffin.

"The skills are there, nothing's diminished from what he did at USC; it's just bringing those things back to life," McCown said. "Hopefully we can get that out of him. I know I'm on him all the time because I want to see that come out of him."

"I've known him since he was a junior in high school, recruiting him in Tampa, Florida," Kiffin said of Williams. "I don't know why it didn't work out in Detroit. We didn't have any problems with him (at USC)." Considered too heavy and out of shape in Detroit, Kiffin said Williams is in good shape and noted he played his final college game in the Rose Bowl at USC at 242 pounds.

Now, McCown and Williams figure to play a pivotal role in what the Raiders hope will be the renaissance of a franchise.


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