Every season since Derrick Burgess was signed by the Raiders, the question has come up about his contract. And every year, the Raiders and Al Davis have brushed it aside with little regard.
The Raiders acquired Burgess from the Eagles prior to the 05 season and signed him to a thrifty five year deal. His first season in Oakland he burst on to the scene with 16 sacks and made the pro bowl. He immediately asked for more money to closer match the kind of production he had on the field.
The Raiders, of course, balked at the idea. The thought was that they wanted to see him duplicate that kind of performance before they threw more money at him. Afterall, Burgess was seen as injury prone during his days in Philadelphia which is why the Eagles let him go in first place.
The next season, despite starting every game (he started 12 games in 05), his sack totals went down to 11. Staving off injury and getting double digit sack totals is a great thing for any player and it earned him a second trip to the pro bowl. He then promptly asked for a new contract again. This time he earned it. But the Raiders balked again. This was not a big surprise either considering Burgess signed a five year contract and most teams won’t give a player a raise before he has played out at least half of his contract.
The next season the injury bug caught up with him. He only missed two starts but in many of the games he played, he was clearly not 100% and his sack totals went down again to just 8. This had him tied for the team lead with Chris Clemons who left in free agency to the Eagles, ironically. Burgess again asked for a new contract and again was given the brush off. It was even more frustrating for him considering Al Davis went on a spending spree signing the likes of DeAngelo Hall and Gibril Wilson to huge contracts.
Then during the season, Burgess was further plagued by injuries. He started only ten games and just like the season before, even in the games he played, he looked ineffective. He finished the season with just 3.5 sacks. He had less sacks than journeyman Kalimba Edwards and rookie Trevor Scott who were tied with 5 sacks each.
Now there are a few options for the Raiders at this point. They can trade him, try to give him a new deal (it would have to be incentive laden), release him, or just let him play out the last year of his contract and then walk.
So here is how everyone wins in this situation:
1. If the Raiders had given Burgess a big contract after his first or second season, they would have been paying big money to a player that has been injured a good portion of the last two seasons and whose sack totals have gone down every season since his great 05 season. WIN for the Raiders.
2. Also, if the Raiders had given him that big contract, it would have been back loaded as most contracts are. Then after last season the team would have likely cut their losses by releasing Burgess because his huge contract would have made him untradeable. So he would never have seen the big money he hoped for, would have to chance the free agent market as an injury prone player again and still would not have gotten a lucrative deal. WIN for the Raiders and for Burgess.
3. The Raiders signed Burgess to a nice low priced 5 year deal, got two great seasons out of him and one ok season. So they essentially rented him in the prime of his career. And though the Raiders didn’t have success in those years it is still a…WIN for the Raiders
4. The Raiders have their demands on the table which is reportedly a second rounder or a third and fifth rounder. Either way, it would be good compensation for a player who is seemingly no longer in this team’s plans. WIN for the Raiders.
5. If the Raiders sign Burgess to a new deal, it will not be anything close to what he was hoping after his first, second and third season because the injuries have been piling up and his totals have been going down. WIN for the Raiders.
6. The Raiders can stand pat which means that Burgess will be in a contract year which is always good news. He will no doubt be busting his ass to earn a nice paycheck in free agency. WIN for the Raiders and for Burgess.
7. If the Raiders release him it will be because there is a youth movement going on in Oakland and Burgess would be in the way of that. There is pretty much NO chance of this scenario happening. There is interest out there for Burgess, even if it is not for as much as Al Davis wants, a trade would be much more likely. But if the Raiders were to release Burgess, it would mean that there are great options to replace him. And Burgess could go and try to get a deal he wants with the team he chooses. WIN for the Raiders and Burgess.
The way that Burgess has been handled has actually turned out to make smart business sense. And typically, smart business decisions like this lead to wins that mean the most:
Those wins on the field of play.