The Oakland Raiders have officially signed all of their rookies who were drafted in rounds 2-7 of the April 2011 draft. The last of the players to sign was Joseph Barksdale, who announced his signing on Twitter at 2:15 pm PST. Though they will be unable to participate in on-field practices until next Thursday, the rookies are going to attend meetings, weight training, and classroom type activities with the rest of their new teammates. Now the team will switch gears and aim their sight on free agents and restructuring contracts.
Kamerion Wimbley was nothing short of impressive in 2010 making the Raiders trade of a third round pick to the Browns well worth it. In 2010, Wimbley made just over $100,000 for each one of his nine sacks. Earlier in 2011, the Raiders tried to pick up an option on his rookie contract but were informed that they could not do so because the option was for $3.5 million, more than 30 percent above what he made the previous season.
So in fear of not being able to negotiate a contract before the brief February/March signing period ended, the Raiders slapped Wimbley with the franchise tag that would pay him the average of the top five players in the league at his position. It goes without saying that this salary is far above a 30 percent pay raise topping over $11 million, nearly four times the option salary. So you can certainly understand why the Raiders are currently trying to restructure Wimbley for a long-term deal with a lesser per year salary.
On the offensive side of the ball, we are still awaiting word on whether the Raiders, or anybody for that matter, have made a contract offer to tight end Zach Miller. My gut tells me he is going to remain in Silver and Black and my head tells me that the Raiders are just letting Miller and his agent put their feelers out to see what the going rate is on a tight end who just made his first Pro Bowl appearance. Miller is a valuable commodity in the Raiders’ offense and it’s highly likely that they will ultimately outbid any other team to retain his services.
One thing on everybody’s mind right now is what is going on with Nnamdi Asomugha? It appears that the best man-to-man cover cornerback in the NFL (whatever Revis!) has a lot of potential suitors. Rumor has it that the New York Jets have offered Nnamdi $12 million to come play the opposite side of the field from their Pro Bowl corner, Darrell Revis. But the Houston Texans have outbid everybody, offering upwards of $16 million per season. More than likely, the Raiders would go to the $12 million mark and match the Jets offer to keep Nnamdi in Oakland for a few more years, but if Nnamdi is expecting Texans money from Al Davis, he could be heading elsewhere.
One of the ways that the Raiders could counter the departure of possibly their best defensive player is to add Antonio Cromartie, with whom they have reportedly had talks. Cincinnati Bengals cornerback, Jonathan Joseph, is also an elite man-to-man coverage corner and is worth considering taking into account that the Bengals are signing up all of the Raiders former players, like Bruce Gradkowski and the recently added Thomas Howard.
Update: It was just reported by Adam Schefter that cornerback Jonathan Joseph has signed with the Texans. They must have grown tired of the Nnamdi waiting game.
In other salary cap news, according to an NFL Network report, the Raiders have released cornerback Chris Johnson and guard Cooper Carlisle. The release of these two players gives the Raiders nearly $6 million in cap space. The fact that there were only two players released by the team implies that they are not in as horrible of salary cap trouble as was initially reported. Please note that the Raider reporters at training camp have stated both of these players are currently on the practice field. Perhaps they are not informed yet.
The release of Chris Johnson also implies that they will bring in another cornerback of some shape or form. I definitely wouldn’t expect them to go into preseason with Stanford Routt, two second year players, and three rookies. That would be too brave, even for Al Davis.
One more thing off the top of my head: expect Michael Bush and Marcel Reece to sign restricted free agent tenders to remain in Oakland through the 2011 season. Bush has already received a first and third round tender and we will know more about Reece tomorrow when they are actually able to go in and sign contracts.
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