A productive opening to free agency for Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders started the free agent signing period with a bang landing safety Gibril Wilson away from the world champion New York Giants. They also locked up their young defensive tackle Tommy Kelly with a long term deal and used the franchise tag to keep Nnamdi Asomugha. And from the addition by subtraction department, there is the departure of the underachieving chronic malcontent Jerry Porter. He’s the Jacksonville Jaguars’ attitude problem now, hope they have fun with that. Meanwhile, the Raiders are bringing Bernard Berrian in for a visit and have been linked to Kwame Harris. On a more bittersweet note long time Raider Barry Sims is now on the market.
 

Jerry Porter is gone. Eight years of unfulfilled potential and attitude
problems have left the building. The Raider Nation breathes a sigh of
relief, well most of it anyway. The writing was on the wall after the
incident last season where Porter made obscene gestures
at the Black Hole. Maybe afresh start will do him some good, but
probably not. He never stepped up his game to be the go-to receiver
after the departures of Tim Brown and Jerry Rice. Sure he had a few
highlight reel games, such as the 2003 snow game against the Denver
Broncos, but those were mixed in with long periods of sub-pedestrian
performances. He got a free pass from the Nation for his cry-baby act
because of the Tom Walsh so called offense. Not saying it would have
been a reincarnation of the Rams’ “greatest show on turf” but had
Porter gotten with the program, instead of acting the fool to get
sentenced to the bench and a certain other nameless receiver who wore
#18 and quit on his team, that offense might have had some chance of
being at least mediocre instead of pathetic.

Barry Sims was probably the only player in Silver and Black more hated
on by Raider fans than Stuart Schweigert over the years. (Yes, even
more than Josh McCown.) What was lost in the look at his negatives was
that he was a true success story in the Silver and Black. He was an
undrafted free agent who manned the left tackle position in Oakland for
three division championship teams and an AFC championship. True, he got
owned by Simeon Rice in the Super Bowl, but the Bucs knew the snap
count. He protected Rich Gannon’s blind side well enough though the
season well enough for Gannon to win MVP. After the Super Bowl debacle,
he developed a false start problem that plagued him for the remainder
of his career. He was a warhorse for the Raiders for many years, and
left it all on the field. He may not have been an All-Pro, but it was
never lack of motivation.

The magnitude of the contract given to Tommy Kelly has been the talk of
the league. In fact, pft even said that it was being laughed at. The
Raiders’ brass (Al Davis) must have faith that Kelly is ready to step
it up to the next level. Rob Ryan and Warren Sapp have both raved about
Kelly’s abilities, and if he plays up to that standard, his contract
may look like a bargain in two to three years. Granted, he could also
end up stinking up the joint and then the league will really be
cracking up. The thing to consider most about that deal is that the
Raiders locked up a promising young player to a long term deal. Its
really a double edged sword, because Al Davis is being criticized for
overpaying, but had he let Kelly walk then Davis would be criticized
for being cheap.

Gibril Wilson was a great pick-up in that the Raiders needed a safety
that is a solid tackler. I read a thread on a Giants’ message board
where they were lamenting the loss of Wilson, which really makes me
think that this was a great pickup. This was a signing that Raider X called back on February 5th,
when I did not even know Wilson’s name. This move is being celebrated
by the Nation almost as much for signaling a likely end to Stuart
Schweigert’s time in Silver and Black as they are the addition of
Wilson.

The Raiders kept Nnamdi Asomugha out of free agency with the exclusive
rights free franchise tag. That was a good move as they could see what
the market was going to bring for cornerbacks. Ashante Samuel’s deal
with Philly will likely set the basis for Aso’s long term deal. Once
the Raiders get that deal done, that will likely lower his cap umber
off of the approximately $10 million that it stands at now. They can
give him a fat deal with a signing bonus that will pro-rate over the
length of the contract. The Raiders will likely get that finalized
after the draft to insure that they will have the room to ink their
picks.

The Raiders would love to ink Bernard Berrian to be a deep threat
compliment to Ronald Curry. I would think that after being with Rex
Grossman, that he would be intrigued with catching balls from the
cannon armed JaMarcus Russell. Hopefully this deal gets done before he
goes to see other teams. He has already been to Minnesota and left
without a contract.

Kwame Harris is another free agent that the Raiders are reportedly
linked to. In fact, pft.com erroneously reported last night that he had
already been signed by the Raiders. The Raiders will need help at the
tackle position after letting Sims go.

About Patrick A. Patterson, Senior Writer

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