In an interview with ESPN.com on Thursday, Raiders left guard Robert Gallery made it clear that he will be leaving the Raiders after seven seasons with the club. Here is what he said in a statement:
"With the end of the league year coming today, and the few conversations I've had with the Raiders and Mr. Davis, we've come to a mutual agreement that it's time for me to move on with my career," Gallery said Thursday from his home in the Oakland area. "I appreciate the start that they and Mr. Davis gave me and I truly have enjoyed my time wearing the silver and black. I wish them well, I thank the fans, and I take away great memories of my time in Oakland."
Gallery was chosen second overall by the Raiders in the 2004 draft out of Iowa. The former Outland Trophy winner was considered a "can't miss" pick at the left tackle position after four years as a starter for the Hawkeyes. He started at left tackle his first three seasons in the NFL but struggled with an overall bad Raider team. He was moved to guard in 2007 and has played quite well since then. He was widely considered the Raiders' best offensive lineman for the last few seasons.
He and former head coach, Tom Cable, were very close and though he never stated as much, Gallery was most likely very disappointed at Cable's departure. His teammate Shane Lechler was not so quiet on the issue as he came out and publicly trashed the decision not to renew Cable's contract. In that statement Lechler mentioned Gallery as one of the free agents who would not return to the team. Turns out he was right.
Now the team will have some big shoes to fill. Reserve guard Daniel Loper played well in Gallery's absence last season when Gallery was out with an injury. But the team is not expected to settle for Loper if they can help it.
The most likely scenario would be drafting a guard in April. And if Penn State G/C Stefen Wisniewski is available when the Raiders pick in the second round, he is the odds on favorite to be the selection. Stefen is the nephew of former Raiders' All Pro left guard Steve Wisniewski. And with Gallery leaving, "Wiz kid" could even have his uncle's old number, 76.
But let's be completely clear here. Gallery has said he will be leaving the Raiders because of the few conversations he has had with Al Davis. As we know, talks can heat up at any moment and he could change his tune. But with all the new big contracts that have already been handed out, that prospect is unlikely.
UPDATE: According to the Oakland Tribune, Gallery was looking for a deal that paid him $8 million per year and the Raiders offered him $2.5 million. If that is true, it is a pretty big disparity.
Follow Levi on Twitter @LeviDamien or befriend him on Facebook.