Raiders report: Inside slant


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Jan 22, 2006
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Raiders report: Inside slant

March 13, 2006
The Sports Xchange

Inside slant · Strategy and personnel · Notes, quotes

The extension of the collective bargaining agreement reached by the owners and NFL Players Association provided considerable operating room for the Oakland Raiders under the 2006 salary cap.

Instead of the cap being set at 94.5 million, it will be 102 million.

Just as important in Oakland's case was by removing 2007 as an uncapped year, millions of dollars worth of incentives to some players were removed from the 2006 ledger.

The combination of the new salary cap and removal of incentives magically transformed the Raiders from $11.3 million over the cap on March 5 to $653,000 under the cap on March 9.

The biggest gains came on the contracts of defensive end Bobby Hamilton $5,320,000 million cap figure to $1.75 million) and wide receiver Ronald Curry ($5.04 million cap figure to $1.64 million).

Quarterback Kerry Collins, who also had $1.75 million worth of incentives come off the books to drop his cap figure from $12,897,668 to $11,147,668, was released anyway on Friday. His figure had remained the highest on the teams.

If Collins had been on the Oakland roster five days after the start of the league year, he would have earned a $2.5 million roster bonus. The Raiders will now look for a better option through trade or free agency.

The Raiders were reportedly involved in talks with Minnesota regarding Daunte Culpepper, whose reputation as a big-play quarterback and familiarity with getting the ball to Randy Moss make him appealing.

On the down side, Culpepper is coming off knee surgery and has other suitors -- which could drive the compensation past the point where the Raiders would retain interest.

The Raiders' current top-three offseason needs:

1. Guard: For all the attention focused on the problems of tackles Barry Sims and Robert Gallery, Oakland's biggest problem on the offensive line was being susceptible to blitzes up the gut. Assuming the Raiders can get Jake Grove healthy and established at center, there is a need for a strong, young, athletic guard who can provide some push for a strong interior running game and also protect the passer.

2. Running back: There was LaMont Jordan and nothing else as the Raiders finished 28th in the NFL in rushing at 85.7 yards per game. His 1,025 yards rushing in 14 games out of 1,369 yards by the Raiders was 74.8 percent of his team's rushing yards _ the highest figure in the league. Zack Crockett, still a capable back, gained just 208 yards. The Norv Turner regime had little faith in Justin Fargas.

3. Safety: The Raiders could have drafted Ed Reed or Sean Taylor but didn't. They had Rodney Harrison in the building and didn't offer him a contract. They got one last great year out of Rod Woodson in 2002, but other than that have been lacking at safety since returning to Oakland in 1995, instead loading up on cornerbacks. Derrick Gibson, a top draft pick in 2001, was injury prone and not instinctive enough. Jarrod Cooper is a solid special teams player but a backup safety at best. DRAFT SCOUT SKINNY

There are those who wonder whether Al Davis for big talent, will be able to pass if Texas quarterback Vince Young drops to No. 7.

Young doesn't have the gigantic downfield arm of the prototype Raiders quarterback or the drop-back skill in a conventional offense that could unleash the full potential of Randy Moss.

But Davis has long been intrigued by those with a unique skill level, and Young qualifies on that front. Rich Gannon wasn't the prototype Raiders quarterback either, and all he did was win an MVP, set club passing records and author the only three good years the Raiders have had since moving back to Oakland in 1995.

Young would be a Super-Gannon, a quarterback capable of not only moving the chains with steady short gains but also breaking off backbreaking runs. And while Gannon was adept at measuring off a first down and getting it with a slide and an inch to spare, Young could be good for chunks of 20 and 30 yards.

No doubt Young's game against Davis' beloved USC opened his eyes and got him thinking.

Davis' scouting staff includes four men -- Jon Kingdon, Bruce Kebric, Kent McCloughan and Angelo Coia -- with more than 100 combined years of service to the Raiders.
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