Walter likely going to a new team

Two years ago during offseason team workouts, Andrew Walter worked with the Raiders offense as the starting quarterback while JaMarcus Russell's rookie holdout was in its early stages. That was as close as Walter got to being the top dog in Oakland. Now the question is, how much longer will he remain on the roster?

In 2007 shortly after the Raiders made JaMarcus Russell the first overall pick in the NFL draft, Andrew Walter walked out of the team's headquarters in Alameda and trotted out to the practice field with his helmet in hand and a wide smile across his face.

At the time, Walter was the No. 1 quarterback on the Raiders' depth chart, primarily because Russell had yet to sign a contract but also because Walter had been a loyal soldier in Oakland and had waited somewhat patiently for his opportunity.

But Josh McCown eventually supplanted Walter for the starting job and the Raiders later signed Daunte Culpepper, pushing Walter further down the ladder. When Russell signed his contract, the slide for the Arizona State product continued.

Since then, it's not been a question of if Walter would leave Oakland but when. The answer still is uncertain.

Outside of a obligatory appearance at the team's three-day mini-camp two weeks after the draft, Walter has been a no-show at the Raiders' offseason workouts. For a guy who has always been a regular at the OTAs, Walter's absence is an indication his unhappiness in Oakland has reached an all-time high.

The Raiders' signing of Jeff Garcia to be Russell's primary backup this season appears to have been the final blow. While Walter was content playing understudy to Russell knowing he was one injury away from being the starter, having to drop to third string on the depth chart is a scenario Walter wants no part of.

By skipping the OTAs, Walter has almost assured himself of getting released, no matter how poorly Brad Gradkowski has looked. With a new quarterbacks coach in Paul Hackett and a new passing game coordinator in Ted Tollner, the Raiders have made significant tweaks to the offense, changes Walter would be trying to adapt to if he had intentions of sticking around.

Head coach Tom Cable danced around the subject of Walter's absence from the OTAs and the Raiders' offseason quarterback school but did say that the quarterback would have a higher learning curve if/when he returns.

While on the surface it would seem reasonable for Oakland to give Walter his walking papers – he's due to become a free agent next year anyway and the kid deserves a chance to see if he can make it at the NFL level with another team – Al Davis likely isn't in a rush to do so. It wouldn't come as a surprise if Walter remains on the roster until the final cuts in training camp, simply as insurance should something happen to the three quarterbacks ahead of him.

Barring an injury to Russell, Garcia or Gradkowski, though, it's almost a certainty that Walter will be playing elsewhere in 2009.

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