This is a special lockout ending, free agency facing edition of four down territory. By this time next week, the NFL will be well into the throes of free agency. We have heard conflicting reports about whether free agency will begin on July 25 or July 28. But either way, the NFL and NFLPA* are agreeing to terms, and the business of football will be starting in the coming days. So let's get to it.
1st Down – Reportedly the Raiders are considering releasing right guard Cooper Carlisle to save cap space. The move would save them $2.1 million this year. Is Carlisle worth keeping?
Dizzle's Take: I do think he is worth keeping but I would not be surprised at this move. He is a holdover from the zone blocking scheme days. He is also getting up in years. He was one of the few Raider offensive linemen who were still under contract following last season. If they do release him, it means they will be hoping second year guard Bruce Campbell can step up and replace him or they are moving Samson Satele to right guard. They put an original second round tender on Satele after last season which shows they are interested in keeping him. Hue Jackson mentioned during a draft interview that Satele was valuable for his ability to play both center and guard so I have a sneaking suspicion he will be taking Carlisle's place if Campbell is either not ready or plays at another position. I also would not eliminate the possibility that the Raiders could attempt to restructure Carlisle's contract.
BA's Take: To be honest, I'm not sure releasing Carlisle for such a low amount makes a lot of sense. The team is already losing Robert Gallery and perhaps Langston Walker if he decides to retire. If they add Carlisle to that list they are basically handing the offensive line over for growth and development this year which could turn out well or turn out costing them a few games. It's risky, but it's business, so if they truly believe they can replace their starting left and right guard this year, then I see them making this move without hesitation.
2nd Down – Jay Richardson was released last preseason mostly because of an injury. He started 22 games and accumulated 82 tackles, seven sacks, a safety, and a pass deflection in his three years with the Raiders. After a playoff run with the Seahawks last year, what are the odds that Jay Richardson plays for the Raiders in 2011?
BA's Take: Richardson came into the 2010 camps with the intention of starting and for all intents and purposes, he very well could have if he had not been injured. Here's a guy who was a third round draft choice and was developing nicely, I thought. I was a bit shocked to learn that he had been cut from the final roster to be honest, especially since he claimed he'd be ready for the season opener. But again, it is a business and if you have 53 other guys who are healthy, you have to make some tough choices. That said, if the Raiders find themselves in need of a defensive end, I don't think they will hesitate to call Richardson.
Dizzle's Take: That is an intriguing possibility. He would be a solid backup at the defensive end spot. The Raiders have two fantastic starters in Matt Shaughnessy and Lamarr Houston but they are in need of depth behind those two. I think Richardson returning to the Raiders is very much in the realm of possibility. There are certainly worse options out there and many more expensive options as well.
3rd Down – Nnamdi Asomugha could cost a team $19 million in 2011. Nobody is giving the Raiders even the slightest possibility of re-signing him and the Bucs and Texans appear to be the frontrunners in the sweepstakes.
Dizzle's Take: I don't see Nnamdi making $19 million next season. Not with the new lower salary cap. I expect he will be offered a contract that will have him making similar money to what he would have made last season had his contract not voided. It will most likely be a backloaded contract that has him making $16 million next season, $17 million in 2012 and $18 million in 2013. With performance incentives, of course. I am still not on board with the idea that he won't be coming back to Oakland. I think the Raiders have just as much of a chance as any of the teams interested in him.
BA's Take: I just can't see the price tag for him getting that high – I honestly think it is exaggerated. On top of that, I don't think that Asomugha is interested in the money factor as deeply as everyone would like to think he is. His number one goal is to play for a winner and neither of the above mentioned teams has proven to be that. The Texans are a consistent .500 team in spite of their explosive offense and you can never tell if the Bucs are coming or going. I think he'd take less money and stay in Oakland over both of those destinations now that the Raiders appear to be headed in the right direction.
4th Down – When this CBA is settled at the owners meeting Thursday, teams will have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to re-sign their players from last year. There are reports that the Raiders will be $12 million over the cap when this deal is finalized. Will we see players restructuring contracts to help get their teammates from last season back again in 2011?
BA's Take: It's not often you hear about this type of thing with professional athletes. Most of these guys want their money and they want it now. For example, the way Stanford Routt has been flapping his jaw this offseason, you'd think he was on the cusp of the Hall of Fame. But he's only had the one good season, and many fans didn't even want him back last preseason. I can't see him taking a pay cut even if the whole world thinks his deal was too big. But I could see both Kamerion Wimbley and Richard Seymour taking one for the team. However, this should be more about Tommy Kelly, Darrius Heyward-Bey, maybe Darren McFadden taking pay cuts to fit their boys in and make up for some of those lackluster seasons. Keep in mind that it would be restructuring that could make up the difference in the future for them, not a release or an altogether new contract.
Dizzle's Take: I have heard differing reports on where the Raiders stand as far as the cap. John Clayton has the figure at over $14 million over. Last calculations I did, they weren't near that. But every season Clayton and others say the Raiders are in cap trouble and yet every year they manage to get under the cap while still signing free agents. Al Davis will sign whomever he wants to sign and worry about cutting and restructuring before the season deadline. This is what he does best. Several current Raiders under contract will be restructuring their deals. Also, the new deals will be arranged for a low cap hit this season and bonuses strung out through the life of the contract. There will also be players who are cut just prior to the deadline and re-signed afterward. In addition to that, there are some $7-$10 million in exemptions that will be announced once the CBA is ratified. Those exemptions are designed to not hogtie teams after an uncapped 2010 season. Everything is going to work out.
A lot of people say Nnamdi Asomugha could take less money to stay in Oakland. But what they don't realize when they say that, is that also applies to a championship contender too. As much as I hate to say this, but Pittsburgh has Ike Taylor as an unrestricted FA and James Harrison is acting a damn fool right now and they struggled against the pass last season. Why wouldn't Nnamdi take less money to team up with Polamalu?
Thanks for the spelling clarification, Levi. I have never professed to be the world's greatest speller, especially with out of the norm names like Nnamdi...Note the spelling. Glad I could provide entertainment to DARKKUSH, who always enjoys giving a jab at someone else's expense. Too bad Kush's financial sense isn't as good as his incoherant rants. For a complete idiot, he is rather funny...
I have just read this and think this is extremely interesting..
I mentioned it a month or so ago but I would love to bring Mankins in the S&B... he would become the #1 FA target for us. He grew up in CA and went to Frenso! He could be interested in coming back!
I honestly believe that there will be a team that pays Asomugah 19 to 20 million per year. How could they not??? He is the best cornerback of his generation, is a huge stand up guy, is an incredibally positive influence in the locker room, and is a true role model. Nnambi Asomugah is the epitomy of a franchise player every team dreams of having, and kudos to the team that has the guts to pay him the money he well deserves. If the Houston Texans are the lucky team that signs him, then they will become an immediate playoff contender, as well as the Bucs. If I was Al Davis, I would immediate re-structure the contract of Routt and Wimbley and do what it takes to bring Nnambi back. Losing him will negatively affect the Raiders more than most people think or realize...
@Spartacus If Nnamdi Asomugha re-signs with the Raiders, you will have to stop misspelling his name. You have always refered to him as Nnambi (often Nambi like Bambi) Asomugah. It is a "d" in his first name not a "b" and the "h" comes before the "a" in his last name. Had to get that out there. It has always bothered me.
@Spartacus I think he is going to be an Eagle next year. Eagles have problems of the defensive side of the ball and in getting Nnamdi, with Samuel on one side they will have the best combo in the league. They are also not afraid of spending money. They are very close to being serious championship contenders and Nnamdi would surely take them up another level.
haha thank you LD. hilarious. NAMBI NAMBI where are you?
HOW CAN THEY NOT you say Spart? well, LD just gave a good reason. the LOWERED SALARY CAP MAYBE? any contending team out there couldn't afford to pay 18 million a season to one guy and stay under the cap. why? because if you're a contending team, most likely you are already paying up the ass for the great players on your team. the dream of that last big contract theory may not mean so much to some players as winning. In fact, i know that's how Aso thinks. he has that kind of class.
and thank you Levi for the last paragraph. A work of art. Al Davis will get things to fit under the cap before the deadline, as always. i didn't even think about the fact that he has a long time to figure it out before the deadline. he shoots first and asks questions later... he just needs to listen to his HC on who to spend the money on.
Personally, to guarrantee a great OL ... i think Blalock and Gaither should be brought in here. yes that's right, two OL . why? because like you said, we have so many OL not under contract, plus we don't know what we have with B. Campbell, Barksdale, or even Wis II OR VELDHEER for that matter with his questionable pass blocking. who knows how well these guys would gel together in the first half of the season? they could be putrid and Campbell could get hurt. here goes another top 5 pick in the 2012 draft at that point! I just don't want to see it happen.
a dependable and contending OL = Gaither-Blalock-Wis II-Barksdale/Campbell/Loper(good TC battle)-Veldheer
not so dependable = Veldheer-Campbell-Wis II-Loper/Barksdale-Henderson/Barksdale
Just bringing in a guard and LT of that caliber will give our QB and the rest of this offense what it needs to win against the stingy defenses of the NFL. our run game will REALLY explode this year. it could have been an illusion last year that our running game got so hot... we faced a lot of soft defenses where they ran against. when we faced tough ones, DMAC got clobbered and Jason couldn't do it with his arm. that's a fact. So basically, it's going to be hard to be a top 10 offense in 2011, the strong defensive schedule proves it. Al needs to break the bank if(and when) he loses NAMBI on guys that will last him a decade... and that's the big boys up front.