The Raiders continue their string of value aquisitions with the signing of former Viking OL Marcus Johnson. This is the fourth new offensive lineman aquired by the team this offseason. The other three being OT Eric Pears, OT Khalif Barnes, and C Samson Satele. These signings should go a long way to shoring up the problems that this unit has had the past few years. Through competition, depth and position upgrades, the coaches will no longer have to simply settle for the lesser of the evils but rather have to make some tough decisions come the cut-down date. That is a good problem to have.
A former second round pick for the Vikings, Johnson was part of that infamous 2005 draft class that yielded very few quality picks in the first round. Johnson was the last holdover for the Vikings from that draft. Every other Viking pick from that class was either traded for low round picks or released prior to last season. They had two first round picks that year because they performed surgery to remove their cancer traded away their number one receiver to the Raiders (remember him?) for the #7 pick which they used to draft WR Troy Williamson. Then last offseason they traded Williamson to the Jaguars for a low round pick. I think both the Raiders and Vikings would like a mulligan on that deal.
Johnson’s career began well as he started 8 of the 14 games in which he played, including the opening four at right tackle for the Vikings. Coach Mike Tice thought enough of Johnson that he even said the rookie reminded him of Hall of Fame guard Randall McDaniel at one point.
Then in 2006 and Johnson started 10 games at right tackle. After that he fell out of favor and the next season he did not start a game. And in 2008, Johnson was active for only seven games and did not make a start. He was obviously expendable and when he became a restricted free agent, the team let him walk.
Now the hope is that perhaps Cable and Michalczik can find something in this 6′6″, 328 pound offensive lineman, who can play right tackle and right guard, that shows he fits into the zone blocking scheme. Cornell Green will probably not be on this team next season and Cooper Carlisle was inconsistent last season. If Marcus Johnson can compete at either or both of those positions, that would help considerably.