A month after ESPN's Chris Mortensen first reported a potential deal between the Raiders and Patriots involving Burgess, talks between the two teams are apparently heating up once again and speculation is swirling that Burgess will be wearing a different uniform when the 2009 season opens.
If a deal is done -- as of Monday night, neither team had returned phone calls seeking comment -- it won't come as much of a surprise. Burgess, who signed with Oakland as a free agent prior to the 2005 season, has been unhappy with contract for the past two years and would likely welcome the opportunity to play for the Patriots.
The reason for Burgess' unhappiness is simple: In 2006 Burgess was told by a team executive -- Mike Lombardi -- that he would receive a contract extension the following offseason. But Lombardi never had the authority to offer that deal and was later fired after he was found out to be making phone calls to the media and other people/teams around the NFL and really badmouthing the Raiders, the coaching staff and basically the entire organization WHILE STILL DRAWING A PAYCHECK FROM THE TEAM.
Anyway, once Lombardi was canned, the Raiders essentially told Burgess no new deal would be coming.
The first year he didn't get the extension Burgess took the high road and didn't say anything. The second year he basically became a little more withdrawn from the media and never really addressed the issue when he did talk.
He's been hobbled by injuries each of the past two years and that's caused his performance to drop off a bit. He also hasn't been the same player since Warren Sapp retired. The two of them were extremely close and Sapp got the attention needed to free Burgess up to make plays. The Raiders don't have a guy capable of drawing that kind of focus from opposing offenses and so that's played a role in Burgess' dropoff, too.
That has led to a lot of criticism of Burgess, though a lot of it is unfair. When healthy and in the right frame of mind, he's as good as any pass-rusher in the league. Fast, strong, good moves ... very solid, an all-around package.
From the Raiders' perspective, they might be eager to deal a player whose unhappiness could have a detrimental effect in the locker room. It would also be wise for Oakland to try to get something in exchange for Burgess -- most reports have the Patriots offering a second- or third-round draft pick -- before he walks away in 2010 after his contract expires.
Wagaman's take: Burgess was a beast his first two seasons in Oakland when he established himself as a definite pass-rush threat but he hasn't been the same since. Whether it's the injuries or a result of his unhappiness over not getting a new contract, the point is that he hasn't been the same player. And if he's determined to leave when his current deal expires then it makes sense for the Raiders to try and trade him with the idea of at least getting something in return. Plus, it's clear Oakland's management already had this in mind when they used one of their draft picks to grab Wisconsin defensive end Matt Shaughnessy. Bottom line, it's a deal worth making for both sides but Oakland can't let the Patriots pull a quick one like they did a few years ago when New England got wide receiver Randy Moss from Oakland in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick which later turned out to be John Bowie, who hasn't made much of an impact with the Raiders.
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