Waiting for the tag

As franchise tags pile up, still no word from the Raiders regarding Nnamdi Asomugha, who is expected to receive that designation by Thursday’s deadline.

Among those players who have been designated so far or have been told by their teams they will be tagged:

— Chiefs defensive end Jarred Allen. With his history of alcohol abuse problems, you could forgive the Chiefs for simply tagging him every year and paying him a hefty salary ($8.8 million this year) rather than break the bank with a signing bonus. Allen won’t be happy about it, however.

“If I play under the franchise tag, this will be my last year with the Chiefs,” Allen told NFL.com at the Pro Bowl.

— Ravens defensive end/linebacker Terrell Suggs. Suggs figures to be disgruntled as well. He was expecting the $8.8 million defensive end tender, and instead will get the $8 million tender of an outside linebacker. Seems foolish for the Ravens to get one of their best players upset over $800,000.

— Bengals offensive lineman Stacy Andrews ($7.5 million). A mild surprise, in that Justin Smith, last year’s franchise player, is now on the open market. Smith is coming off a two-sack season, but could make out in free agency since Allen and Suggs will both require two first-round draft picks to sign. Might be too rich for the Raiders blood.

— Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby. No impact for the Raiders, who have relatively inexpensive active linebackers in Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard.

— Eagles TE L.J. Smith. Colts tight end Dallas Clark could also get a one-year, $4.5 million tender. Zach Miller looked good enough that he may one day himself get a franchise tag.

— Panthers RT Jordan Gross. The Raiders need long-term solutions at both tackles, unless they’re convinced Paul McQuistan is the answer on the right side. Had Gross not been franchised, they probably would have at least placed a call.

— Tennessee DT Albert Haynesworth. Robert Gallery had an encouraging year as a left guard, but could do nothing with Haynesworth. Risky for the longterm because he produced in a contract year.

Green Bay hasn’t tipped its hand yet regarding defensive tackle Corey Williams, who would break the bank in light of Haynesworth’s tag.

Kiper call
For what it’s worth, longtime draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. was available by conference call Tuesday through ESPN and had a few thoughts regarding the Raiders.

Whether you like Kiper or not, his recall regarding virtually any prospect, no matter how anonymous, is remarkable. On his Web page, Kiper had the Raiders taking Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, but conceded the landscape may have changed with the signing of Justin Fargas.

“That’s the question. Fargas is a good back. You’ve got other guys in the mix as well,” Kiper said. “So you’ve got a lot of guys, the question is do you have a lot of average guys? Fargas proved to be better than average. I don’t think you necessarily have to take McFadden, and he could be gone anyway, depending on how the coin flip goes.”

Kiper said he rates Glenn Dorsey as the top defensive tackle in the draft, but said there are people who like USC’s Sedrick Ellis better.

“I could see Sedrick Ellis as a Raider,” Kiper said.

Kiper said McFadden’s problems with fumbling are an issue, but likes his overall skills set even if he is not the runner Adrian Peterson was last year.

Not everyone shares Kiper’s feeling about McFadden. The NFL Network’s Mike Mayock has Rashard Mendenhall of Illinois as his top back.

Kiper said the Raiders’ 19-61 record over the past five years may have its roots in the draft.

“I think it’s had a lot to do with it. You look back at it and say, `OK, how many of those guys actually became quality starters?,’ ” Kiper said. “I think you can always look at your football team, and if they’re lacking, they’re lacking because of the draft not being as beneficial as it should be.”

Aging wideouts available
If the Raiders wanted to go retro to the days when Jerry Rice and Tim Brown were on their last legs, Keyshawn Johnson wants to make a comeback and Muhsin Muhammad was released by the Chicago Bears.

With Jerry Porter scheduled to become a free agent, the Raiders are extraordinarily thin at wide receiver with Ronald Curry, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jonathan Holland, Todd Watkins, Drisan James and Will Buchanon under contract.

While no wide receiver attending the NFL scouting combine is thought to be a No. 3 or 4 selection, there are a few targets worth considering if the Raiders did what they never do and move back in the draft.

Cal’s DeSean Jackson is the most explosive and a dangerous punt return specialist Larger targets include Oklahoma’s Malcolm Kelly (6-4, 218 pounds) and Indiana’s James Hardy (6-6, 220). Michigan’s Mario Manningham is also considered a potential first-round pick. All are underclassmen, so none were scouted during the college all-star circuit.

Kiper thinks Kelly could be the first receiver taken by the time the draft comes around, and also said he thinks Cal’s LaValle Hawkins could be an early second-round pick or even sneak into the first round.

Will be headed to the combine Wednesday and will file daily blogs from Indianapolis . . .


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer