What is Al Davis thinking?

So there were the Raiders, nine days removed from the first day of the offseason, without their head coach, the first to be in tune with players in the locker room since Jon Gruden, and staring down the barrel of free agents like Nnamdi Asomugha, Richard Seymour, Michael Huff, Robert Gallery, and others (the ones mentioned are former first round picks). Between just those four guys alone, there is something in the magnitude of around $40,000,000 in salary last year. That would surely not fit under any kind of new salary cap that would go along with the new CBA between the owners and the NFLPA. And there are 21 other guys who were with the team last year and not under contract this season.

As it stands to reason — and it is a legitimate question to ask — what is Al Davis thinking?

Since he won’t tell you himself exactly what he is thinking, I’ll tell you what I think he’s thinking. He’s thinking there might not be football in 2011 and he paid more than any other NFL team owner in 2010, to the tune of $150-plus million in team salary to end up with an 8-8 team. Now it’s a little easier to understand why 8-8 is so unacceptable.

If indeed there is a lockout in 2011, Davis will be in a better position than most owners, not paying a head coach and only having to pony up the dough for a half-squad of players. Genius — good play, Mr. Davis. But if there is football in 2011, then we could see a very different team than we saw in 2010. That could be almost tragic and not very genius at all.  

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What is Nnamdi worth?

Well, let’s start with the easy answer: a first round pick in 2003, and twenty-something if I remember correctly. He’s definitely worth that, even if the “draft insiders” didn’t know who he was when he was selected.

But what is he worth now, since he has only created one turnover in the last two years?

I’d say to have a guy that every quarterback in the league doesn’t want to throw at is priceless. But to have a guy that every quarterback in the league can just ignore… now that is a different story. The fact that Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson have caused 14 turnovers in the last two seasons speaks volumes of the fact that Nnamdi works too hard at what he does. And if Al Davis wasn’t such a “once a Raider, always a Raider” guy then I’d say Nnamdi might be headed elsewhere this year. Perhaps Nnamdi needs to go back to just being average and he’ll be able to make the kind of impact he’s been paid for over the last three seasons.

I think the best case scenario for everybody here is to give him something like a six-year $48 million contract. Yeah, you all think I’m crazy, right? Well I am, but since we know Nnamdi has enough money for himself, just give him the $8 million per year in his contract and agree to give the other whatever million dollars to the charities of his choice over the next six years. That way you get your man with a decent cap number and he still gets what he wants in return. I’m not aware of any NFL policy that says an owner can’t donate to charity, are you?

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Rumor has it that Rob Ryan is a hot topic of conversation inside the closed Oakland Raiders offices these days. I, for one, am not against a Rob Ryan return. I mean, yeah his defensive schemes (or Al’s) left a lot to be desired, but the entire Raiders organization has left a lot to be desired on the football field even before the arrival of Ryan in Oakland. My argument would be that Ryan did not have the talent that the current defense has, even without Seymour and Asomugha, the latter of whom actually was a part of Ryan’s defense.

The big question is, will he be the defensive coordinator or the head coach? And with Hue Jackson still under contract in 2011 as the offensive coordinator and only two coaching vacancies left, apart from the Raiders, Ryan should be considered a legit contender to be the Raiders new head coach — especially considering he had such a good report with the players on both sides of the ball during his last stint in Raiderland. Not only that, but he was in good with the boss and left on good terms.

In addition, clearly his brother Rex has made quite an impact on the New York Jets football team. You have to wonder if Davis made a mistake in hiring “Lance” Kiffin, the undiscovered wonder boy, over Ryan back when the job opened up in the first place, after Art Shell II. But historically Davis doesn’t hire a defensive minded front man. The last time he did that, the Raiders only won 100-plus games over a ten year period (John Madden). Who wants that?

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