By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, March 24th, 2008 at 5:36 pm in Oakland Raiders.
You want good news?
The Raiders have had the best offseason of any team in the AFC West.
There. That wasn’t so hard.
Of course, the Raiders are the only team that has done anything of note in the division, so bringing in DeAngelo Hall, Javon Walker, Gibril Wilson and even Kwame Harris and Drew Carter makes it a veritable landslide no matter what you think of how much they paid.
The losses _ wide receiver Jerry Porter, defensive end Chris Clemons, defensive lineman Tyler Brayton and quarteback Josh McCown _ were more than offset by the gains. They also managed to bring back Justin Fargas, Dominic Rhodes and Tommy Kelly, and the first two came at extremely reasonable prices.
Division play happened to be one of Oakland’s best areas of progress last season. Until faced with the murderer’s row final four of Green Bay, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and San Diego, Oakland’s back-to-back wins over the Chiefs and Broncos were one of the most positive developments of the past few seasons.
The Broncos have signed LB Boss Bailey, WR Keary Colbert, LB Niko Koutovides, S Marquand Manuel, S Marlon McCree, RB Cecil Sapp and C Casey Wiegmann.
Wiegmann has been a solid center for a long time _ possibly too long. Bailey never seemed to realize his ability in Detroit. Colbert is a No. 2 receiver at best.
The Broncos wanted no part of Walker, deciding the $5.4 bonus was too much for an unhappy player with a history of knee trouble. That risk was assumed by the Raiders at a much higher price. Denver might have second thoughts if Walker regains his form, because Brandon Marshall, the talented receiver who replaced him, has a serious right arm injury sustained in a mysterious accident.
Losing kicker Jason Elam will cost them a game. Based on recent history, it could come against Oakland.
San Diego remains the top team in the division, but they’re only significant addition is linebacker Derrick Smith, a solid if slow linebacker the 49ers didn’t want who could fit nicely as an inside linebacker. Gone is Michael Turner, a valuable No. 2 running back behind LaDainian Tomlinson.
More important to Tomlinson, fullback Lorenzo Neal was released. Count on Tomlinson to lobby hard to bring back his body guard.
As for the Chiefs, who look to be the worst team in the division by a considerable margin, they re-signed punter Dustin Colquitt, and have done little else.
Searching for QBs
Not surprising Quinn Gray signed with someone other than the Raiders. He has aspirations of being a No. 1 quarterback and JaMarcus Russell’s future begins in earnest this season. He’s got a better chance of beating out Sage Rosenfels and Matt Schaub.
But it leaves the Raiders in search of another quarterback to go with Russell and Andrew Walter. According to the Fresno Bee, Trent Dilfer has been contacted.
If that’s the case, he may be better suited as No. 3 and a mentor, because frankly, I’d take my chances with Walter if Russell went down.
Bad day across the bay
I was pretty dismissive of tampering charges in general a few weeks back after getting an up close look at it going right out in the open at the NFL scouting combine.
It’s bad enough that the 49ers got caught tampering. It’s even worse that they got caught tampering with a player they didn’t even get. Lance Briggs is still with the Chicago Bears.
Profootballtalk.com believes it’s the first enforced tampering charge since the Miami Dolphins lost a first-round pick when it hired Don Shula away from the Baltimore Colts 38 years ago.