Nothing like waiting till the last minute, right? Despite there not being a CBA, the deadline for franchise tags is still Thursday at 1:00pm. Speculation was rampant about who the Raiders would use that coveted franchise tag on, but in the end they shocked everyone by placing it on a guy no one had predicted: Kamerion Wimbley.
It was just a couple days ago that Wimbley was informed that the Raiders would exercise the $3.5 million buyback option to keep him in Oakland for the final year on his contract. That was the move everyone expected to happen after he led the Raiders in sacks (9) just one season after the Raiders sent a round three pick to Cleveland to acquire him.
The surprise twist in this came when the NFL Management Council ruled that the buyback violated the 30% rule and therefore voided his contract according to Jason LaCanfora of NFL.com. So, just when the Raiders thought they had Wimbley locked up for at least one more season and could use the franchise tag on one of their other coveted potential free agents, they had to turn around and use it on Wimbley. The tag number for his position is around $10 million for the season.
It could be that the Raiders’ intention was to use the franchise tag on Stanford Routt which is why instead, Routt received a three year contract from the team. The deal is worth $31.5 million with $20 million guaranteed over the first two years of the contract. An expensive contract for sure.
The big money for Routt is not a surprise in some regard. Al Davis has long favored the speedy former round two pick. So much so that last offseason, Routt was given the highest franchise tender of first and third round pick compensation. At the time, no one could figure out why Davis thought Routt was worth that kind of tender. The big contract makes a bit more sense simply because we know Al Davis likes to reward his loyal players with big money deals and he likes his corners.
Which brings us to the corner who lines up opposite Stanford Routt: Nnamdi Asomugha. He is the biggest name set to hit the free agent market after his contract voided itself following last season. Every big money signing the Raiders make means it will be more and more difficult to afford the All Pro corner.
The Raiders made Richard Seymour the highest paid defender last week at around $15 million per season. Now they sign Routt and Wimbley at $10 million each for next season. That is $35 million tied up in three players which puts quite a strain on the possibility of giving Asomugha the kind of deal he is expected to receive, somewhere in the neighborhood of $16 million per season.
Other key players set to become unrestricted free agents are Robert Gallery and Michael Huff. Gallery was in the conversation when speculating who would get the franchise tag but as of yet there is no word of any kind on contract talks. On Twitter yesterday, Huff contemplated the possibility of no one getting the franchise tag. Today his tune has changed — mostly due to the big contract given to Routt. Huff said, ”Only thing left for me to (do) is hit this market and see what happens.” Quite a somber statement from a normally jovial Huff.
The remaining players who will probably be restricted free agents depending on the results of the CBA are Zach Miller and Michael Bush. Both will likely receive franchise tenders to remain with the team unless a long term deal can be reached before then. Miller and the Raiders have been working on a long term deal so that could come down the pipe soon as well.
UPDATE: Raiders have re-signed reserve running back and special teams ace Rock Cartwright and defensive tackle John Henderson. Henderson was signed to a 2 year, $8 million deal. Cartwright’s contract details have not been released as yet.