While the NFL continues to inflate our heads with lockout news, the fans wait in limbo for some other kind of news to happen. That will be the way it is until at least the end of this month, but we could see free agency happening some time in the beginning to mid-July range with the progress that has been made recently. This edition of Four Down Territory is filled with free agent talk. Plus we’ll talk about whether Trevor Scott is right when he says Hue Jackson is the chosen one and we’ll squeeze in a little AFC West news.
1st down – “Hue Jackson is going to take that next step to where we were and he’s going to take us to where we want to go and that is to win the AFC Championship and then win the Super Bowl,” says defensive end Trevor Scott. Can the Raiders win it all this year?
BA’s take: To make it plain and simple, no. There is no way that my brain will allow me to think that it is possible to come from the deepest depths of obscurity and win a Super Bowl a year after an 8-8 season. You have to have growing pains, get put to the test, and go through the ringer. Then and only then can you win it all. Look at the team that the Raiders are trying to emulate, the Baltimore Ravens. They go the playoffs consistently, but they have yet to win it all under John Harbaugh. I mean, I guess there is like a 0.1 percent chance, but I don’t think this is the year of the Raider. They are on the right track though.
Dizzle’s take: The Raiders have as much chance to win the Super Bowl this season as any team. Last season they took huge strides both in play on the field and overall confidence. They are a very talented team with the pieces in place to compete at a high level — a playoff caliber team. In today’s NFL, most teams that make the playoffs have as good a shot as any at going all the way.
2nd down – Is Michael Huff more valuable to the secondary than Nnamdi Asomugha?
Dizzle’s take: In a word, no. For the Raiders, there may be a bit of uncertainty at free safety if Huff moves on but that doesn’t mean there is no talent. Let’s not forget that Huff always had his flaws. His replacement, whether it be Hiram Eugene, Stevie Brown, or otherwise, may not be as good at some aspects of the game but better at others. I like Huff, so don’t get me wrong. I think the Raiders are better off with him than without him. But Asomugha’s only knock is the salary he will command. While that may be the essence of value to some, much higher premium is put on cornerback than safety in this league and by Al Davis especially. If Asomugha leaves, the uncertainty at corner is far more concerning especially in the demanding man coverage the Raiders deploy.
BA’s take: I think this is a really good question since it is based on worth for the price. Let’s face it, Nnamdi is overpaid. I understand the work he does during the week to prepare on Sundays, but frankly he’d get more work on Sundays if he wasn’t working so hard during the week. Plus, working hard comes with the territory when you are talking about being a professional and I’m sure Michael Huff is a hard worker too, otherwise he wouldn’t have started so many games since 2006. But let’s really break it down. Michael Huff calls the signals in the secondary, he led the team in tackles last year, and has been in the league almost as long as Nnamdi, so he has a lot of experience. In my opinion, he is more valuable.
3rd down – According to Philip Rivers, the Chargers have been working out for 11 straight weeks, four days per week, with a solid turnout each week. Does this spell trouble for the Raiders in 2011?
BA’s take: I don’t think it spells trouble for the Raiders, no. I think it could actually backfire on the Chargers, they might get sick of each other. Plus, Philip Rivers is probably running his mouth and exaggerating. But Jason Campbell has been working out with his receivers for just about that long anyway, and if there is an area that needs work for the Raiders it is definitely the passing game. I think having a quarterback in place who understands that is going to go a long way in helping them get better. Plus, the Raiders swept the Chargers last year, so they need the work more.
Dizzle’s take: The Chargers are not any more of a concern with more workouts than they would have been otherwise. The Raiders’ biggest enemies are the lockout and themselves. The constant workouts won’t do the Chargers much more good because they are a mostly veteran team anyway. The Chargers are not a team on the rise. They have been on a plateau for a while. Last year they slipped out of the playoffs after several years of early playoff exits. There is no reason to think that they will suddenly rebound without a rebuild. I just don’t see it. I could be wrong but even if I am, it will have little to do with them supposedly working out for 11 straight weeks. Players need an offseason.
4th down – Name 3 FA’s who would most help the Raiders this year
Dizzle’s take: I am going to take the politician route on this one and be non-committal in my response. The only big money the Raiders should be spending is in keeping Nnamdi Asomugha. Otherwise I see the team waiting to see who shakes out after the first wave of signings. They will most likely sign some supplemental players in the mid to low salary range to compete for starting jobs or as solid depth. I will have a more comprehensive list closer to when it looks like there will actually be a 2011 free agency. But at this moment, I will be boring.
BA’s take: I’m going to go with offensive tackle Matt Light, wide receiver Santana Moss, and outside linebacker Manny Lawson. I really want to say Chad Ochocinco at wide receiver, but he is not a free agent yet, the Bengals still have the option on his contract. For sure the Raiders still need help on the offensive line and I agree with what some of our readers are saying — that Light could play the left tackle spot for the Raiders and move Jared Veldheer to right tackle until he has a little more experience. They need help at wide receiver, a veteran presence to help tutor the young guys at the position, and Santana Moss can provide that plus give them much needed production. He knows Jason Campbell from their time in Washington and will not command a huge contract; that’s a win, win, win situation. Finally, Manny Lawson is not a great pass rusher, but the Raiders need a guy at Will that is versatile and can cover running backs and tight ends. Lawson may find a better fit for himself in the 4-3 as opposed to the 3-4 and I’m not sold on any of the guys already in this linebacker corps except for Kamerion Wimbley and Rolando McClain.