Burgess situation worth watching

Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha isn't the only player on the Raiders roster whose contract situation is worth watching. Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Derrick Burgess is no doubt wondering where he fits in after watching Oakland owner Al Davis throw out wheelbarrows full of money in the offseason.

Burgess is still operating under the original five-year, $17.5 million contract he signed with the team in 2005. That's a good chunk of change by anyone's standards but for a player with 35 sacks over the past three seasons, Burgess is highly undervalued. Consider that among salaries for defensive ends in 2007, Burgess -- at slightly more than $4 million -- ranked just 34th. Julius Peppers of Carolina topped the list at $14,087,500. That's just in terms of salary cap value. In terms of actual money earned in 2007, Burgess pocketed only $3,000,480 while Indianapolis' Dwight Freeney checked in at a cool $30,750,000. In fact, three of the top five highest-paid players overall in the NFL last year were defensive ends. Burgess has not taken part in any of the Raiders' offseason workouts, something he did in 2007 as well. He's expected to be on hand for the team's three-day mandatory mini-camp which begins Tuesday but beyond that it's anyone's guess as to what route he'll take. Burgess was promised he would get a new deal with the Raiders by former senior personnel executive Mike Lombardi sometime between 2006 and 2007. But Lombardi was fired before a deal could be brokered, leaving Burgess out in the cold. Many people expected Burgess to hold out in training camp as a result of his unhappiness but the veteran pass-rusher didn't miss a day and tried to downplay any talk of problems regarding his contract situation. After a slow start in the regular season, Burgess came on strong at the end of the year with five sacks and 24 tackles over the final five games. He finished the season tied for the team lead with eight sacks and added 16 quarterback hurries. But after seeing the Raiders dole out more than $170 million to defensive lineman Tommy Kelly, cornerbacks Nnadmi Asomugha and DeAngelo Hall, and safety Gibril Wilson, it wouldn't be surprised to see Burgess take a tougher stance this time around. --- In other news, former Raiders Stuart Schweigert and Jeremy Newberry signed with new teams. Schweigert inked a contract with the Washington Redskins while Newberry agreed to terms with San Diego Chargers. Schweigert was released by the Raiders less than two weeks ago in a move that was expected after Oakland signed Wilson and drafted Tyvon Branch. On a defense that had plenty of problems last year Schweigert became a scapegoat of sorts and fell out of favor with the coaching staff. Schweigert was also an easy target for critics but it's difficult to pin blame on a guy who was forced to make tackles well downfield because of the problems the Raiders had stopping the run elsewhere along their defense, particularly along the defensive line. As for Newberry, the Raiders had been in contact with the veteran center about possibly returning but with questions about his knees and overall durability, Oakland decided to go in a different direction and ended up signing free agent John Wade. Wade, Chris Morris and one-time starting center Jake Grove -- who's still on the mend from offseason surgery -- are expected to battle for the starting job in training camp..

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