With the CBA having expired and the process moving from the negotiating table to the court room, this officially just got messy. It could also drag on for quite a while, which means that the upward swing the Raiders were looking at just hit a huge snag.
Last season the Raiders climbed back to .500 football after seven years of futility, thanks in part to some new young stars. Several rookies shined for the Raiders such as middle linebacker Rolando McClain, defensive end Lamarr Houston, left tackle Jared Veldheer, and wide receiver and kick returner Jacoby Ford. They had all cemented themselves as the starters by midseason and were able to get comfortable in their roles.
Other 2010 rookies saw only limited duties: offensive lineman Bruce Campbell, cornerback Walter McFadden, linebacker Travis Goethel, defensive back Jeremy Ware, and safety Stevie Brown. They were all looking to build upon their rookie seasons and make a run at a starting job.
After not seeing the field one time in 2010, Bruce Campbell is expected to get a shot at starting at one of the guard spots. With Robert Gallery moving on and Cooper Carlisle a remnant of the zone blocking scheme, both guard spots could be up for grabs. But with the looming lockout, the Raiders gave reserve left guard Daniel Loper $2 mil per season to stay and Carlisle was retained as one of the only Raider offensive lineman who was still under contract after last season.
Travis Goethel had all the makings of some tough competition for Quentin Groves and Trevor Scott to start on the weak side.
Michael Huff is likely not coming back and Stevie Brown was hoping to have a shot at replacing him. However, the team paid Hiram Eugene like their intention is to give him the job.
Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware are in the most need of proving themselves. They played very sparingly last season and did not look good in those appearances. With no camp or preseason, it would be hard to trust either of them to play even nickel corner. With Nnamdi Asomugha probably not coming back, the two starting jobs will belong to Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson.
These young players need practices and preseason games to prove they are worthy of being starters. They would need to unseat the more veteran players who have already proven themselves. If a new CBA isn't reached until the season is upon us, the veteran members of this team will be given the jobs once play resumes.
This goes for the 2011 rookies as well. There is no way any team can be expected to throw a rookie out there without a whole training camp and some preseason games under his belt. What this means is the teams in the NFL that were good veteran squads will be in the best shape, and those teams like the Raiders who are young teams on the rise, will have a 2010 season do-over. All that upward momentum gets stalled... or turned back.
If a new CBA can somehow be reached by June, then the Raiders will be in good shape. After that, every day that goes by means it is less and less likely we will see any surprise starters come the season. That is not to say there won't be a changing of the guard by the end of the season. But this coming season this team was supposed to be building on what was accomplished last season, not going through it all over again.
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As always Levi, great post. And believe me when I say, "I hear you barking, big dog!" This is now my greatest concern. A good team needs the cohesion that only ota's can bring. Especially for a young team like the Raiders. And knowing that we will be drafting OL, CB, & LB with the intention that some of them will be expected to start right away only makes this situation worse. I just hope that the players will use this time off to stay/get in shape. I also hope that they connect with their teammates to work on reps, train, etc. This lockout is the worst thing for a young team on the cusp of greatness.