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Digesting the Wilson deal

This one, I get.

Any free agent acquisition is a gamble, but the signing of Gibril Wilson is worth the risk.

As stated last night, I’m fine with Tommy Kelly getting every dime he can get, but wonder about the wisdom of committing a guaranteed $18.125 million and more than $25 million over three seasons to a player who either has been part of the problem on defense or not special enough to raise the level of those around him.

The rest of the league can’t believe what the Raiders put out to retain Kelly, and maybe they’re right. Then again, no one else had Nnamdi Asomugha as a first-round draft pick, either _ some teams didn’t have him in the top three rounds. So it’s not out of the realm that Al Davis could be right.

But while Kelly’s deal is open to question, Wilson’s signing (six years, $39 million, $16 million guaranteed) is an aggressive move which addresses a chronic weakness in the Oakland defense.

Other than the last great season out of future Hall of Famer Rod Woodson in 2002, it’s been difficult to watch the Raiders’ safety play since they returned to Oakland in 1995. And that’s from the press box, without a rooting interest. Hard to imagine how tough it’s been for Raider Nation.

There have been considerably more whiffs than big hits, precious few interceptions (12 by safeties in 80 games since 2002) and very little in the way of the sort of intimidation Jack Tatum made famous.

Back in 2003, after the San Diego Chargers cut Rodney Harrison, the Raiders had their nemisis in for a visit. Tatum endorsed bringing him aboard, but Davis was lukewarm and Harrison went to New England and played a role in two championships.

Davis thought Harrison might have been near the end of the line. Wilson doesn’t have the rep of Harrison, but he is much younger and a physical presence. Whether he plays strong safety or free safety doesn’t matter. From here, it looks like the Raiders signed a football player, rather than a specimen.

A Raiders official told me that Wilson has more tackles than any safety in the league over the last four years. Tackles aren’t an official stat, so who knows if it’s true. What is true is Wilson played championship football for the Giants and played a role in attaining that championship.

He wasn’t Larry Brown, intercepting passes thrown directly to him by Neil O’Donnell. Nor was he Desmond Howard, breaking free on returns but offering next to nothing as a receiver.

Wilson had eight tackles and a pass defensed against Green Bay in the overtime championship game win. He was an integral part of a defense that shut down the most prolific passing offense in NFL history against New England in the Super Bowl.

During Super Bowl week, Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo talked about how Wilson adapted when moved from free safety to strong safety, asking him to model himself after Philadelphia’s Brian Dawkins.

“I remember giving him a whole collection of film on Brian and he studied it and has fallen into that position quite well,” Spagnuolo said. “The free safety in that system has to be a tackler, an active guy, an aggressive guy and that’s what Gibril is.”

Admittedly, it’s easier to look good as a safety with the kind of push the Giants were getting with their front four. The Raiders’ hope is that Kelly becomes Justin Tuck, Derrick Burgess is Michael Strahan and Jay Richardson takes a quantum leap in Year 2. Then if Terdell Sands can resurrect his game and a draft pick or two comes around . . .

All that happening is unlikely, but Wilson’s signing remains a positive move by Davis to address an area that has seen too many Marquez Popes, Anthony Dorsetts, Derrick Gibsons and Darren Carringtons over the years, and too many missed tackles the past three years by Stuart Schweigert and late-season replacement Hiram Eugene.

A few years back, I thought the Raiders made reasonable calculated gambles in signing LaMont Jordan and Burgess to positions of great need. Jordan didn’t work out as well as hoped, Burgess was a success. But it was worth taking a shot. I feel the same way about Wilson.

More impressions on the free agent frenzy:

– Back on Feb. 1, I made the case that the perception of dysfunction in the Raiders organization wouldn’t necessarily affect their ability to get free agents because what players were really after was money. Write the checks and they will come. At least one agent I respect disagreed, and thought it would be tough for Oakland to be a big player.

A little more than 24 hours into free agency, I think we have an answer. The $34 million in guarantees plunked down on Kelly and Wilson have free agents taking notice. Now all the Raiders have to do is pick the right ones.

– Maybe Jerry Porter will excel in Jacksonville, but he always did his best work in Oakland in a supporting role. It may be a reach for Jaguars fans who think he’s their new Jimmy Smith.

– Word is Chicago wide receiver Bernard Berrian could come to town if he gets out of Minnesota without signing a contract. Could be wrong, but he looks like a slightly younger version of Porter from here. An upgrade from what is on hand, to be sure, but don’t get crazy with the money.

– Another “talent” available is Javon Walker, who was released by Denver. But Walker tends to be high-maintenence when things don’t go his way, and the Raiders seem to bring out the worst in those kinds of players these days.

– Miami’s signing of Josh McCown makes you wonder if they’re thinking of drafting Matt Ryan, whether it’s at No. 1 or later if they trade down. McCown isn’t a consistent enough passer to lead an offense for 16 games, but teammates flock to him and he doesn’t mind being a mentor.

McCown is one guy who looked at the Lane Kiffin situation and decided he might be better off elsewhere. But it’s doubtul the Raiders were going to be in the financial ballpark anyway with what he got in Miami.

– Philadelphia delayed its visit with Chris Clemons as it was busy signing Asante Samuel, but Clemons is scheduled to take a physical today. The Clemons camp feels it got lowballed by the Raiders after the Kelly deal.

– So Randy Moss is on the open market. He could still end up a Patriot, but right now all the hearts, flowers and happily ever after talk during Super Bowl week looks pretty staged.

– Center Jeremy Newberry remains in play for the Raiders, and Tom Cable would like him back.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • Yalls Trippin

    Bob, we’re going big in FA, this year. Al’s pocketed the dradle, and he’s diggin deep. Don’t be suprised to see the TWO top WR in FA end up here after the weekend.. When have the Raider’s ever had a problem signing FA’s, even with a tight cap space…Dark lord is working it as we speak…

  • Yalls Trippin

    Lester- -Trading down would be nice, and I agree, but when in Raiders history has it ever happened?

  • http://none Bob Marley

    I was wondering about Stroud too, but he´s 30 already and has missed 12 games the last 2 season…

    If cut, look at him but giving up something for him? I´d say no thanks.

  • dick v

    Ian scott would be a nice addition now that they have committed to Kelly.

    I agree with Tom that the Kwame Harris signing will complete the line additions for the year. Kiffin and Cable used up this years pick on Mario Henderson, and Mquistain played LT in College. I am guessing that Henderson, Mquistain, and that guy from NE will compete for LT, while Kwame Harris will start RT. Carlisle is at RG. Newberry, Morris, or Grove at center. Gallery at LG to complete the starting five.

    Kiffin and cable have to make it work with either Mquistain or Henderson because they banked their futures on it.

  • RaiderDell

    Bob Marley

    WR list:

    Remove: Kelly Washington-resigned by the Patriots yesterday.

    Remove: Jabar Gaffney-resigned by the Patriots

    Source Boston newspapers, Patriots.com

    Your list will grow with more WR’s soon to be released.

    There are more WR’s that will be released soon, wait and be patient.

  • dick v

    Bob PFT says Stroud wants a big raise from his currrent 5 million a year salary. i think that prices us out of the stroud sweepstakes.

  • dick v

    I would like Sam Baker in round two a lot, but the Raiders would have to get someone like Ian Scott in FA to make it work.

    I like the idea of bring back both Bay area WR in Berrian and Stallworth. As well as having both Gholston and Kearse in the fold, but that might be too much money.

  • Swiss Raider

    I still think Stroud is worth it to trade for him, but speaking of cut: Al should cut LaMont or Rhodes or even both like Tom Flores mentioned before. That would create some capspace and we would be able to throw more money in the FA-market. The RB-market is just overfilled, so we won’t get anything for them in a trade and Bush could take the place behind Fargas.

    I like Burgess a lot, but to trade him is not a bad idea, because you got to give up something to get better. Let’s see what Al & co. will do in the following hours and days

  • Jhill

    Routt is the guy opposite Nmandi. He deservedly played in front of Fabes last year. Outside of that play against GB, I thought he was outstanding. 6’1 with all that speed? Why are we looking to replace him?

  • LesterHayes#37TheJudge

    Trippin: I know the talk is the Raiders have never traded down, but I’m not sure how accurate that is. Anybody on this blog have that info close-at-hand, or is it an assumption?

    Regardless, I contend that nothing the team has done in the past should make us believe we can accurately predict what they’ll do this time. Al’s making the moves he thinks the team needs, and I’m sure he’d trade down in a heartbeat if the right offer came along.

    I wouldn’t be surpised to see them try to move up into a top-5 spot by dangling some of their picks… especially if they sign Javon Walker to fill a WR position.

  • tom flores

    geez I didnt realize how long that was….I do ramble at times…

  • RaiderDell

    Tom

    In between breakfast bites, I’m still reading your post.
    Does it end?

  • LesterHayes#37TheJudge

    Oops….I wouldn’t be surpised to see the Cowboys try to move up into a top-5 spot by dangling their picks…

  • M.I.A. Raiders aka Vernon Gholston at #4

    I am extremely happy that everyone here jumped on the Gholston bandwagon which I have been voting for way before the combine! Everyone thought I was crazy. Everyone thought it was a reach.

    Well, Gholston, ladies and gentlemen is the missing puzzle to what now appears to be a very formidable defense!

    Pound the Rock. Stop the Run. Back to Basics Baby!

  • RaiderDell

    Tom

    Good post, best part below.
    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    either way, if we follow my lead..we are defintely going to take our division…and that is exactly why Al Davis is spending money this year…he knows that Denver has faded..and KC isn’t even close…SD has Norv Turner…a very conservative coach, straddled with an injured QB and RB scarred from their loss in the play-offs and likely having lost their back up RB Michael Turner.

  • http://none Bob Marley

    Dell

    Ok, thanks for the update.

  • M.I.A. Raiders aka Vernon Gholston at #4

    POSTED 12:05 p.m. EST, March 1, 2008

    BILLS HOSTING JOHNSON

    As free agency gets into its second day, the Bills will soon be sniffing around a second receiver to pair with go-to guy Lee Evans.

    According to Adam Schefter of NFL Network, receiver Bryant Johnson is on his way to Buffalo for a visit.

    Johnson was the front end of first-round back-to-back draft picks by the Cardinals in 2003. He has been overshadowed by Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald.

    The guy taken right after Johnson by the Cards, defensive end/linebacker Calvin Pace, is expected to sign with another team soon.

  • Yalls Trippin

    Lester – I wouldn’t be suprised if Al had a deal with JJ for McFadden in place. A Barber trade, their first and second…Really would suprise me. Just don’t count on it, that’s all I’m saying. I’m going to stick to Al never trading away a first rounder.He’d rather, I dunno, draft a kicker or punter than do that..lol

    We will hit FA hard. Acquire both top recievers. IN comes Burgess boy Kearse. That will put Gholston and Long out of the picture. We will either have McFadden or Barber in the line up next year. I do see Sam Baker in the second, but not before getting Kwame Hrris for insurance…He was a trainwreck for the niners, but a ZBS fit…

  • M

    The Raiders will be a running football team yes, but who exactly will be getting the carries? I like the Huggy Bear Jr.-Crash Test Dummy, but he will not hold up. Love Michael Bush’ potential, but he has not played in two years. Rhodes has the goods, but as an every down back? The soonest Lamont gets cut could not be too soon for me.
    Lots of Rbs in the college pool, who’ll emerge on our side?
    I fear that Chris Johnson (who according to Blackholepriest could rectify both RB and WR needs) will be gone by the time our 2nd round comes around.

    Good morning.

  • Yalls Trippin

    Dell, lets not forget that jacked up ass toe either..

  • Yalls Trippin

    An unnamed coach in the organization has commented that he is “Very Excited” about Michael Bush this year..

  • http://none Bob Marley

    I have to say I respectfully disagree with Tom Flores….

    ”We are stilll desperately in need of an OLB that’s a fact”

    So, we sign Briggs for 6 million a year or whatever he´s asking for.

    That means on passing downs, you take out either Morrison or Howard who have shown that playing the pass is one their stenghts.

    Considering today´s pass happy offensive tendencies that means a whole lot of downs, I´d rather get a MLB to play the run and leave our young guys on the field on most plays.

  • R8DR4LFE 75

    Just hear me out Gholston,Briggs,Nhamdi,Wilson, plus the new look D/T position if we have one.Morrison to the outside with howard.If that doesnt stop the run or at least strike fear in the eyes of an offense.What do you think.The next thing to do would be to come up with a nickname for the defense.How about “RUN AT YOUR OWN RISK” a bit long i know but i like it

  • M

    Trippin,
    I’m excited to have M. Bush display what he’s got as well. Could be the diamond in the rough. That’s the case then Rb is taken care of for a few years.

    Marley, your assessment is as usual. On point.

  • http://none Bob Marley

    I believe Al Wilson is still out there, I was pulling for the guy about a month ago and then forgot about him, I´ll take him for way less money than Briggs a 1 or 2 year, incentive heavy deal might do it.

  • Yalls Trippin

    I think he was hoping Briggs to replace Robert Thomas, not The Firm…I’d say bring in a cheaper guy like NE’s Lua, and make him play the run hard, leave the Pass up to the big boys..

  • LesterHayes#37TheJudge

    I say stay away from McFadden — this guy’s only 20-years-old, and he’s already spoiled and out of control. He may have crazy skills, but imagine what he’s going to be like when he can LEGALLY party wherever and whenever he wants. Another me-first attitude, this prima donna needs to go somewhere else.

    Stay away from McFadden, and hope Michael Bush is everything he could’ve been before his unlucky break. If Bush is healthy, the team’s set at RB. If not, they can get a potential starter later than the #4 spot — which again, I would be shopping feverishly.

  • http://none Bob Marley

    M…I´m sure it´s not, but thanks.

  • R8DR4LFE 75

    Well it’s almost 10′oclock gotta get some $hit done today chat later

  • tom flores

    I have often sai that trading down was the right move considering we have so many “need” positions to fill on this roster and was nearly beheaded and told that Al Davis had never traded down..so I assumed it was true…

    as far as trading Burgess or any other Defensive stud right now…I don’t see it happening. The possibility of a capless NFL is looming larger every day. If that happens Al Davis is gonna stock up like the old days…and be dominant once again in FA…he will hock the team if need be…sell a portion to make that a reality…(oops done that already)

    I like getting younger guys because younger guys are generally more coachable, have higher motors and more to prove. Picking the right ones is the key to our success while maintaining a few vets for stability.

    We picked up guys in the draft and off the waiver wires to fill in at WR and O line..we probably pick up another one in round 3 and 4 we have to go WR in round 2 to get top quality there rounds 5 and 6 are gonna be LB and WR again and round 7 another DT or DE

    Of course I think we all know that Al Davis is picking Gholston in round 1 if he cant trade down…all he has to do is watch Merriman and the rage fills in his blood…Gholston or C.Long if available…

    anyway as I said earlier Miami is taking Matt Ryan or C Long and Lambs are taking Jake Long to replace Orlando Pace…ATL is the wild card …Matt Ryan replaces the “Vick” experience and Dmac with his off field issues gets a pass from ATL…so they take Dorsey…

    that leaves us with Gholston…Ellis is a reach but a possibility…we are set at DT thats why I truly believe its Gholston or Dmac…Al Davis doesn’t care how many bitches you impregnate as long as you save enough leg strength to run two TD’s a game hahaha. Besides Al may want sloppy seconds….

  • M

    Does anyone really have any clue at all about Mario Henderson? Never heard any word at all about the kid.

  • Yalls Trippin

    Lester – Bush’s health is absolutely 100%. If it makes you feel anybetter, Fargas got 1009 yds. on 222 carries with the exact same rod in his leg…

    -I agree on McFadden. Just don’t rule him out as an AL move. Al could care less about off the field stuff. Just Win Baby..If anything, we need to draft a Brian Westbrook prototype for RB depth. We need a speedy screen guy to compliment the rest..

  • http://none Bo Jackson’s Hip

    The one thing the Raiders are is unpredictable. I mean Al Davis is…

    What I mean by that is whatever the “cookie cutter” media “logic” is, we usually go in a different direction.

    Some of these moves work and others obviously don’t.

    The can’t miss and safest pick a couple of years ago was Gallery….anyone else remember?!?!

    Well he isn’t exactly heading to the HOF.

    Trust your team and hope for the best!!!

    RRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIDDDDDDEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRSSSS!!!

  • M

    Trippin,
    last week or so someone, perhaps DSM, I can’t recall, listed Justin Forsett as exactly the same size as Westbrook. And Forsett does have the heart and hands.

  • EXLARAIDERSEASONTICKETHOLDER

    AD does care about the off field issues. Remember he got burned with Robo Mr. Reefer and nude surfer QB Todd Marinovich.

  • Yalls Trippin

    M – I like gettin all the cali guys in here. It makes sense…No more whining okey ass Randy’s..Forsett will freefall due to his size..

    Raiders are talking to J. Walkers agents right now….

  • Brown81

    Yeah, don’t forget about B. Robbins. The off-field stuff will always come back to haunt you in this day and age.

  • Yalls Trippin

    Marijuanovich!! How could I forget!!

    The antithesis – The Tooz, Alzedo, Jano, Washington…

  • M

    Hope Javon Walker is over the self-centered-itis which afflicts so many WRs in the league.

  • http://none Bob Marley

    M…

    I read somewhere that Henderson used to be a 380 pound guy who didn´t play football until, I think, his second year in High School, he started as a senior at FSU and the only opinion I have found was from Casserly who said:

    ”OT Mario Henderson played well against first-round picks Gaines Adams and Jarvis Moss in college. I liked this pick in the third round”.

    When you consider Adamd and Moss were the top pass rushers in that class, it gives me hope.

    Other than that, I don´t have a clue, never saw him play.

    Oh and of course, Cable called him soft or something like that last year.

  • tom flores

    Yalls trippin

    thats right Briggs to replace Robert Thomas and Sam…why would I sit Morrison during pass plays ??? He has quietly turned into the rockstar of our defense…I am just saying we are looking much improved at D Line after drafting Gholston and bringing in Kearse at DE and SS Wilson..now lets solidify our LB core and set the tone…

    I guarantee that this is AL Davis’ nod to Ryan…giving him the players he needs to either put up or shut up…

    If he can’t coach his way into the top ten with this group he better pack his bags !!!

  • Einstein

    If Gibril Wilson is so good, why didn’t the Giants attempt to match the offer?

  • LesterHayes#37TheJudge

    You bet Al worries about off-the-field stuff, because it can keep his players off the field.

    The team would’ve never picked Jamarcus (and guaranteed all that money) if he had the reputation McFadden’s got. DMC might actually be a great guy, but it isn’t worth $30 Million to find out.

  • Yalls Trippin

    Maybe last year was build up the O, now it’s sure up the D, and a couple of finishing touches..

    Tom – I like your thinking there. Let’s not give up on Thomas yet, tho. He does have motor. A good rotational guy, IMO.

    This is make it or break it for Ryan. Al had to know he wasn’t working with a full deck last year…

  • Brown81

    Einstein, I suppose you could ask that question about any free agent, right? My guess is that it came down to $$$.

  • M

    Thanks Marley Esq.,
    maybe the kid will develop some determination in himself, toughen up and seize his opportunity. Or maybe he is just a wasted pick as is so common for all teams.

  • Einstein

    Brown81 – Possibly.. or is it the Giants didn’t think he was worth that much? Just wondering…

  • tom flores

    Marinovich ….that was a nightmare that had to scare AL Davis to death when he picked JRuss at number 1…

    but he did it…and now its time to help him out with a supporting cast !!!

    can anyone whisper…”Play-offs”…well if Big Al keeps it up…it may turn inot a roar this year !!!

  • Yalls Trippin

    Einstein – Giants have to pay big to get Strahan back. I peeked in on a Giants board, and they’re all chewed up about it. He’s not the best coverage guy..

    But tell me the last time you saw hits from the S position like this…Rod Woodson??

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asDp_CO2R8g

    BAWLIN!!!

  • Einstein

    Tom Flores – Play offs? Are you f’n kidding me man? You are whispering playoffs? We don’t even have a number 1 receiver yet.