Lofton adds mystery to Oakland offseason

James Lofton was hired to be the Raiders' wide receivers coach, which under normal circumstances might bode well for a unit that was woefully unproductive in 2007. But given the situation in Oakland, Lofton's presence on the coaching staff only adds more mystery to what is already a bizarre situation.

Lofton, the Hall of Fame wide receiver who was one of the game's most productive players during his era, officially joined Lane Kiffin's staff on Wednesday, though the move had been expected for some time. Lofton had met with Kiffin and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp last week then brokered a deal with Raiders owner Al Davis.

Lofton had previously interviewed twice with the Raiders regarding their head coaching job, including last year when the vacancy eventually went to Kiffin. But Kiffin's future in Oakland has been in doubt for the past three weeks after he and Davis reportedly were at odds with one another.

Bringing in Lofton, who was fired by San Diego on Jan. 22, is an interesting move because the Raiders already had a wide receivers coach on staff. Charles Coe held the job in 2007 yet he wasn't fired by the team and was instead reassigned to make room for Lofton.

Adding to the mystery is that Lofton was reportedly hired without Kiffin's knowledge. According to one story, it was Davis who hired Lofton and not Kiffin Could this be an attempt by Davis to tighten the screws on Kiffin in hopes of getting the head coach to resign? Possibly. But what it definitely does is give Davis an easy out should he decide to fire Kiffin or if the head coach does indeed resign.

Some people will argue that the Raiders already had such a man on staff in defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who, like Lofton, also interviewed for the head coaching job last year. But Davis has said he wants a head coach who will call plays for the offense, which would tilt the scales toward Lofton.

Either way, it's just another twist in what has already been a long and tumultuous offseason for Kiffin and the Raiders.

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