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Digesting the Wilson deal

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, February 29th, 2008 at 9:44 pm in Oakland Raiders.

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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  • http://none Bob Marley

    The thing with Henderson is that he costed us 2 third round picks, he better step up, I´m not saying I expect him to become Walter Jones by week 1 but at least make a serious push for a starting job.

    He´s our 3rd rounder in this draft, that´s gonna be about the 67th pick, there are 6 to 8 OT´s ranked as 1st or 2nd rounders

    Long, Clady, Williams, Otah, Baker, Cherilus and possibly Nicks and Collins.

    It´s likey they will all be gone when the 3rd round starts, so we would have to consider wether Henderson is a better prospect than the remaining crop of OT´s that would actually be there at the time of our lost 3rd rounder comes up.

  • Eugene

    Couldnt we trade down. Maybe offer our #4 pick for a reciever and a higher pick? Berrian and Stallworth are visiting today. I wouldnt mind either one but, I would love to pry Fitz away from Arizona somehow

  • EXLARAIDERSEASONTICKETHOLDER

    Yall
    Lyle Alzado was not paid the big bucks AD is investing. He came from Denver, and the others were in a different money era. None would be paid today,s big bucks if it came to character issues.

  • http://none Bob Marley

    Tom Flores…

    ”thats right Briggs to replace Robert Thomas and Sam…why would I sit Morrison during pass plays ???”

    Because on pass plays you don´t have 3 LB´s on the field, you have to sit at least one, sometimes 2.

  • Brown81

    Einstein, I see you working. Good question. But, from what I understand, he was the best safety available in FA and the Raiders have a HUGE need to improve their safety play. I think the Giants didn’t feel like paying him what they knew he could command on the open market. Maybe they feel like they have someone to replace him. I dunno, but he’s an upgrade over Stu and Eugene.

  • Yalls Trippin

    Ex – You’re right..Comparing today’s market with that of decades ago is a Strech…Gotta protect your investments by investigating character…

  • CopenhagenFan

    Gholston all the way. He and Burgess will make the QB “go down hard”……and we suddenly have a complete secondary now.

    I’d say we have to go with Warren (who showed good flashes, especially in the game against Indy where he DOMINATED), Sands, who needs to get it in gear and Kelly. Screw it…these guys should get the job done!

    I like Tom Flores’ post. I too thought of getting both Berrian AND Stalworth. Brilliant.

    And while we’re at it, why not pick up Lance Briggs and make a push for the playoffs?

  • Einstein

    Brown81 – I completely agree. I just have a bad taste in my mouth from recent playoff/Superbowl aquisitions. i.e. Larry Brown, Desmond Howard. I am on board with this signing, I was just wondering about a few things. I agree the need at the position is worth it.

  • dick v

    Henerson, Mquistain, and possibly Kwame have to show and prove. I think mquistain is LT and Harris will be the RT. It is still a shaky tandem at tackle but it is better than Barry Sims and Cornell Green.

    Mquis… played well at Rt last year and really solidified the right side after struggling initially against the Titans. He got a lot of the extra help from Zach Miller, Fargas, and the FB’s but he seemed like a football player. I am hoping he makes the transition to LT. The idea of Harris protecting Russell’s blind side turns my stomach.

  • EXLARAIDERSEASONTICKETHOLDER

    Yall,
    Played the link twice. WOW!

  • http://none Bob Marley

    Hey Einstein post 242…

    You came up with the Najee Mustafa-Huff comparison which was great because I love references to obscure former players…got any for Wilson?.

    How about Derrick Hoskins?..Johnnie Harris?.

  • Einstein

    Interesting note: None of the other three teams in our division has done anything in the market so far, unless cutting and losing players counts… i.e. Neal, Turner, Walker. etc… dumb bee otches.

  • Brown81

    Einstein, I hear you. The L. Brown/D. Howard deals killed me. I think this will wind up a little different though. Both of those guys fell into the SB MVP while Wilson simply had a solid season and hit HARD. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and go get a solid WR.

  • Einstein

    Rasta Man – The only comparison I want for Wilson is Eric Turner or Stacey Toran. May they both RIP!!

    Dan Land? :-)

  • JH

    Bob ….I have heard a number of good offensive line coaches over the years say that you should not give up too soon on young linemen as it is a hard transition from college to the NFL…So maybe there is hope for a guy like Henderson…I think he is getting some great coaching at this point from Cable.This is the first time in awhile that the line has not had to learn a new system so that should help but it also means that excuse for poor play goes off the table.

  • pirate arrgghhhh

    mark my words, Chris Clemens is a one hit wonder.

    undrafted
    three years w/ Redskins, couldn’t crack lineup
    released
    picked up by Raiders
    a 240 lb DE and people wonder why the run defense sucked
    sure, he had 8 sacks. A few were garbage sacks, or credit where pressure came from Sapp or Burgess and Clemons was the one there to make the tackle.
    If Clemens had Tyler Brayton on the other side instead of Burgess, does anyone really believe he’d get 8 sacks.

    I’m glad he’s gone. The Eagles are suckers is they pay him.

    That’s the problem with looking at football stats. People see Clemens with 8 sacks and think he must be great. People look at Huff and see 1 int and think he’s a bust. It’s just crazy.

  • Yalls Trippin

    Ex: The kid’s a hitter no lie. Major upside too.

    I will say it again and no more. We will aquire two of the top WR FA…

    Berrian
    Walker or Stallworth

    As well as DE Kearse..

  • CopenhagenFan

    What about Seattle Tackle Sean Locklear?!

  • CopenhagenFan

    Pirat good post! One good thing to say about Clemmons was is that he was better than Quintin Moses!

  • Yalls Trippin

    Kearse aint no tweener DE like Clemons. Bringing in an aging vet only tells me AL is seriously trying to make a run

  • http://none Bob Marley

    Einstein…

    Dan Land…lol, don´t forget his benchwarming sidekick Torin Dorn.

  • Einstein

    Rasta Man – Torin Dorn lmao.. You just “one up’d” me bro… hehe

  • Scottish Raider

    Is there any news on the reported Ebenezer Ekuban visit?

    He missed all 2007 with a pre-season achilles injury and the Broncos aren’t battling to keep him. If he has recovered completely, Ekuban could be a nice pick-up. He was actually a 1st round pick for Dallas in 1999.

    I still like the idea of trading Burgess for picks and replacing him with Gholston. I am not sure about having both Burgess and Gholston in the same line-up, as neither is great at stopping the run. Richardson, or possibly Ekuban, would have to defend the other side.

    The cutting of Sims was a surprise. I know he had a big roster bonus due but I thought we would keep him for another year. We are only saving $200k by cutting him now. It does now look that we will be drafting a OT at the top of the 2nd. Hopefully Baker, but Nicks, Hills and Collins will all be around.

    As we are chasing both Berian and Walker, it suggests that we won’t take a WR until Day 2. There should still be some good prospects left at the top of the 4th, including Bess, Arrington, Dexter Jackson, etc.

    So, the latest Scottish mock is:

    Round 1: Vernon Gholston DE
    Round 2: Sam Baker OT
    Round 4: Adrian Arrington WR
    Round 6: Jasper Brinkley ILB
    Round 7: Adam Hill C

  • dick v

    Another Reason the Raiders should aggressively pursue players like Berrian and Stallworth is because the way the defense is built. The Raiders defense is built to get after the QB, not stop the run. Indy’s defense is built in a similar way: speed rushers, small quick Dt’s, fast but small LB who have trouble shedding the Guards, but they run the cover two which requires more physical corners. Also Bob Sanders plays like an extra LB and get back quickly against the pass.

    If Indy had an offense similar to ours, they would struggle against the run like they did in 06. The fact that Payton and Co. keep pressure on opposing teams by scoring and Indy plays ahead the over whelming majority of the time allows Indy to get away with this miniature defense.

    The Raiders have the run game, but are way lacking in the receiving corps. The biggest problem with the Wr corps is that they can’t get down field. Both Stallworth and Berrian get down field very quickly which will open up the offense.

    Granted Jamarcus is still going to be a few years away from being able to tap potential, but if he doesn’t even have the tools to get it done, how will they now if they can even open up the offense.

    Last year the Kiffin new with out a doubt that he could not open up the offense. The possible additions of Harris, and deep threats like Berrian or Stallworth would be like taking the Raiders offensive engine from a four cylinder to a V6. If Jamarcus ain’t ready for that is another story, but at least it can open up a little bit more if needed unlike last year.

    The departures of Sims and Porter are addition by subtraction if you ask me.

  • Einstein

    BM – Derrik Hoskins, Eddie Anderson?

  • CopenhagenFan

    I’d rather have Chris Canty from Dallas than Ebenezer or The Freak.

  • frozen

    I think Henderson only cost us this years 3rd and last years 7th
    ————————————————–
    Bob Marley Says:
    March 1st, 2008 at 10:15 am
    The thing with Henderson is that he costed us 2 third round picks

  • raiders2

    Correct me if I’m wrong I’m not quite sure but hasn’t it been said that Gholston’s best fit is as a 3-4 edge rusher?

  • dick v

    Whats up with Shane Olivea from SD. He is a solid offensive tackle. I Haven’t heard much interest about him, but it seems like he would give the Raiders another option. I know he is a RT and there are a lot already, but I would like to see a solid competition at lT with the guys on the roster and someone like Olivea.

  • Einstein

    Bob Marlery – What about the perrenial play from Deral Boykin and Darren Carrington?

  • Scottish Raider

    Raiders2, Gholston could certainly play the edge role in a 3:4, but he does have the speed and strength to play DE in the 4:3. Unlike Chris Long.

  • pirate arrgghhhh

    another thing I don’t understand is people advocating trading F.Washington. The logic goes, we’ve got Aso and Routt looked pretty good, so we don’t need F.Wash and maybe can get a mid-round pick for him. Insanity.

    Remember, you need AT LEAST three quality CBs. First, what happens if Aso or Routt get injured (remember, this is football, injuries happen often). Who steps in? C.Carr? a joke, he’s a kick returner, not a starting cb. Maybe you like ultra-raw John Bowie. I’m certainly not ready to throw the job on his lap. Chris Johnson? yeah, that inspires confidence.

    I could go on, but it’s completely nutty to advocate trading one of our three corners. We desperately need all three.

    On top of all this, look at F.Washington. Everybody knows how Al Davis loves freakish athletes. Al Davis traded up from the 2nd to the 1st round to get F.Wash. That’s how much he wanted the guy. Did whatever it took to get him on the team. F.Wash had a legendary combine, 4.27 speed. Al Davis drooled all over himself.

    Now, say what you want about whether F.Wash has lived up to your personal expectations, but Al Davis is the only one who matters and this isn’t the kind of guy Al Davis gives up on after two years. Consider LB S.Williams. Another Al Davis favorite. Any signs of giving up on him. He didn’t give up on Aso, Fargas. The fact is, Al Davis drafts guys he likes and gives them a chance to develop. Some say he keeps them around for too long (T.Brayton, D.Gibson, etc.).

  • dick v

    Gholston is a great fit for the 3-4 because of his speed and potential to drop into coverage. That being said his pass rushing ability and speed would also make an amazing edge rusher like Burgess, and Dwight freeney. Teach him that bull rush that freeney has and he would be a great fit in the 4-3. The Raiders have to get better on offense for that to work because until the offense can open, opposing teams will continue to pound on the Raider defense. A 260 pound edge rusher will only be another body that will get pounded on, and one more reason not to throw the ball against the Raiders to go along with Namdi, Routt, Fabian, Huff Wilson, Burgess, Morrison, and Howard. Burgess, Morrison, and Howard are all weak at the point of attack, and my guess is that Gholston would be as well.

    Bottom line the Maturation of Russell and the Raider passing game is desperately needed in Oakland.

    Bernerd Berrian makes the Raiders marginally better at passing, which any improvement at whatever cost is badly needed.

    WR have the biggest wash out rate of any position in the draft. The Raiders don’t need draft a rookie that will have to be developed over the next couple of years. A vetran will alow the Raiders to speed up the maturation process.

  • http://none Bob Marley

    Einstein..

    Don´t mess with Eddie Anderson, he was a good player, don´t you think?.

    Frozen

    A third rounder was spent on him last year and we gave up this year´s third in that trade…right?.

    I might be wrong but that´s what I think happened.

  • pirate arrgghhhh

    signing Kearse reminds me of Denver signing Simeon Rice last year. Fond memories, sounded good at the time. I personally don’t think it’s the direction in which we want to go.

  • Einstein

    BM – Yeah Eddie was solid, great tackler, great hitter, hands of stone though…

    Dick V – in regards to wash out receivers as it related to the Raiders, I think Tim Brown was the last receiver we drafted that was worth a damn…

  • Einstein

    Bryant Johsnon anyone?

  • pirate arrgghhhh

    Javon Walker-WR- Broncos Mar. 1 – 12:51 pm et

    A third of the league is interested in WR Javon Walker.
    At least 10 teams, including all four NFC East clubs, have been in contact with Walker. The 49ers, Bills, Bucs, Panthers, Raiders, and Vikings are also interested, but no visits have been scheduled yet.
    Source: ESPN.com

  • frozen

    Maybe you’re right, but I thought the only 3rd we spent on him last year was the one we got from the Patsies in exchange for this years 3rd and last years 7th
    ===============================
    Frozen

    A third rounder was spent on him last year and we gave up this year´s third in that trade…right?.

    I might be wrong but that´s what I think happened.

  • pirate arrgghhhh

    I think V.Gholston obviously could play 3-4 rush LB or 4-3 DE. He played DE at Ohio St. It’s not like he’s too small (6’4, 258, compared Burgess at 6’2, 260).

    Size might worry me if he’s the kind of guy that would get pushed around easily.

    But just look at the combine. He was stronger in the bench press than all other DLs, stronger than all the huge DTs with 4 inches and 40 lbs on him.

    The only one who matched him was LT Jake Long. J.Long is 6’7, 315 and had 37 reps. Gholston at 6’4, 258 had 37 reps.

    Plus add to that 4.67 speed, best vertical leap, best long jump.

    This is the kind of guy we need at DE. All that being said, I’d rather have C.Long, but I really don’t believe he’ll be there.

  • tom flores

    crap…the whiners got Justin Smith…he was on my a list for DE ahead of Jevon Kearse…

  • tom flores

    I missed the Lambs announcement did anyone hear who they just signed ???

  • Joe Raider

    1.I am pleased @ the Gibril Wilson signing, I think it means the end of Schweigert as opposed to Huff. This was a big time move.
    I am not entirely convinced the Tommy Kelly deal happens if GB doesn’t slap the franchise tag on C. Williams,but they did and I think Kelly can step up. Jacksonville is going to be really upset with Porter over the next 2 seasons, he have never stepped up to be the #1 WR he brags that he is. He is all mouth and no effort.Good riddance, hello Bernard Berrian (Donte Stallworth would be ok as well)! The last thing I have is I honestly don’t think McCowns signing with Miami has much to do with the Kiffin rumors. It looks to me to be identical to the last 2 off seasons for Josh. I think it is partly a matter of money as was stated above, but mostly I suspect Miami gave him some kind of indication that he would at the very least be able to compete for the starting QB job, if not be the starter on opening day. I think that is the bottom line, he would’ve stayed to mentor JaMarcus but Miami offered him more cash and the prospect of starting. In 2006 he signed with Detroit for that reason, and in 2007 he agreed to the trade to Oakland to be the starter. Hell, go back to his leaving AZ, because they drafted Lienart and he had no chance to start. Again see the Detroit Lions reference. He believes he is going to start at QB for the Miami Dolphins in 2008, that is why he is going there. Never mind the reality that is is not starting QB caliber.

  • tom flores

    pirate

    I think if we draft Gholston we get Ohio State bookends with Richardson/Gholston and if we sign Jevon Kearse we have pro bookends with Kearse/Burgess until the kids from Ohio State develop…

    follow that logic and Early Doucet at WR or Dorsey at DT gives J Russ a teammate with which to build confidence with in the pros…

    either way, after the FA signings I am expecting Al Davis to pull off ..I AM IN !!!

  • tom flores

    2nd round could be Trevor Laws too…either guy takes care of my concerns…either a totally dominant defense and ok offense

    or a good defense and better offense….

    I prefer a dominant D in ’08 and a good O with progress and hopes for the 2009 draft to complete the offense with “playmakers” at WR…and beasts on the O line. We are two dratfs away from a deep run if all goes according to plan this season…

  • SalvadoRaider

    So whatever happened to: “No free agents want to come to Oakland because of all the turmoil?????”

    First day of free agency and arguably the top safety signs with us YET, “no free agents want to come to Oakland” because AL DAVIS is such a dictator. PLEASE!!!!

  • DOCLEW 28

    How the hell do you know that McCown looked at “the Kiffin situation” and decided to go elsewhere? Did you talk to him? Were you there at his meetings in Miami? Or are you just making this crap up like you guys usually do? I’d guess it was the latter to keep up this negative spin on how things are since no one talks to you people on the record.

    I don’t know why I keep reading this blog crap.

  • WhowantssomeCJ

    Bernard Berrian to sign with Vikings – announcement forthcoming.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    what about Fabian Washington’s legal troubles?

  • Bill

    Jerry,

    Chris Clemons signed with Eagles today in a five year deal. It was reported on the NFL network.

    Do you know what’s going on with Cooper Carlisle?