Collins spared for now


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Jan 22, 2006
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Collins spared for now
Extension in NFL labor talks gives the Raiders three more days to decide whether the quarterback is worth keeping for 2006
By Steve Corkran

Quarterback Kerry Collins became a convenient target for those seeking a reason for the Raiders' offensive inconsistency and the team's 4-12 record last season. Before long, he might take the fall for the team's salary-cap woes.

For now, Collins remains a member of the Raiders -- contrary to numerous unsubstantiated reports that said Collins had been released Sunday.

No sources were mentioned in any of the reports.

Raiders senior personnel executive Michael Lombardi and Collins' agent, David Dunn, denied the report and said Collins remains signed through the 2009 season.

Releasing Collins would free up approximately $9.2 million in salary-cap room for 2006. However, it also would leave the Raiders without a proven starter six months before the season opener.

The Raiders entered the day $14.8 million over the league-mandated $94.5 million limit. Three days earlier, the Raiders shaved $8.8 million from their 2006 salary cap by releasing defensive tackle Ted Washington, cornerback Denard Walker and guard Ron Stone. They have until Wednesday night to reach cap compliance.

Collins, 33, stands to make $6 million in base salary this season, in addition to a $2.5 million roster bonus. He earned $660,000 and $765,000 in base salaries the past two seasons. He has said he is open to renegotiating his contract, so long as he remains the starter and his salary is comparable to that of other starters in the league. The Raiders have said they are interested in retaining Collins.

On the surface, the Raiders' options at quarterback beyond Collins are limited to unproven veteran Marques Tuiasosopo and second-year player Andrew Walter.

Tuiasosopo, who turns 27 in 16 days, has started only two games in five seasons. Walter, 23, did not play at all as a rookie last season. Also, he is fresh from surgery to repair a groin-area injury he sustained in training camp last season.

Given that, the Raiders would have three options if they part ways with Collins: One, signing a free agent such as Drew Brees, Jon Kitna or Josh McCown; two, trading for a quarterback such as the Minnesota Vikings' Daunte Culpepper; or drafting a quarterback such as Vince Young or Jay Cutler, assuming either is available when the Raiders pick at No. 7 in April's draft.

None is a certainty and each comes with a sizable risk. For instance, Brees likely would cost at least as much as Collins is slated to make in 2006 and is fresh from surgery to repair damage to his right (throwing) shoulder. Culpepper, too, is rehabilitating from offseason surgery. Players such as Young and Cutler likely would need at least a year to get acclimated to the NFL and learn the Raiders system.

The Raiders won only seven of 28 games in Collins' two seasons. He replaced one-time fan favorite Rich Gannon three games into the 2004 season after Gannon sustained a broken vertebra in his neck.

Raiders managing general partner Al Davis said in January that the Raiders needed to find a way to score more points, especially given the additions of wide receiver Randy Moss and running back LaMont Jordan last offseason.

Instead, the Raiders scored more than 21 points only three times and averaged a paltry 18 in 16 games.

Collins was among the league leaders in most passing statistics through four games. However, he got benched in favor of Tuiasosopo eight games later, returned the following week, and finished with 12 interceptions and 39 sacks.
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