By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Saturday, February 28th, 2009 at 10:08 pm in Oakland Raiders.
UPDATE: A league source checked in with details of Isaiah Ekejiuba’s deal, which was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.
It’s for three years, $5.4 million. He got $1.25 million to sign. Cleveland the New York Jets were both in pursuit.
It’s believed to be the richest contract for a core special teams player. Ekejiuba played fewer than 10 snaps on defense all season.
Watched an entire hour devoted to the opening of free agency on the NFL Network and the only time I heard the Raiders mentioned was in reference Gibril Wilson, DeAngelo Hall and their double-dip free agency bonanzas.
Fifty-plus deals, hundreds of millions of dollars, not a Raider in sight . . .
With everything fairly quiet on the Raiders front, some speculation and opinion to keep the wheel turning:
– I sat in a Napa Marriott Hotel room one day with Jon Gruden, listening to him derisively refer to a Mo Collins-Darrell Russell practice matchup as a “brother-in-law block.” Translation _ they were giving each other a break.
It was the first thing I thought of when the Kansas City Chiefs got Matt Cassel for Mike Vrabel and the No. 34 pick in the draft. Bill Belichick was executing a brother-in-law block with ex-colleague Scott Pioli.
Detroit needs a quarterback and is at No. 33. Hard to believe they couldn’t have done better, shipping a younger player the Patriots’ way.
I happen to agree with the the assessment that with 10 wins under his belt (Tom Brady started the other) for a playoff-caliber team, Cassel has proven much more than Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford.
Vrabel, 34, is a throw-in with no more than a year or two left. He fit in with an established New England defense but not a terrible one in Kansas City. The trade was all about the quarterback, and Belichick gift-wrapped this one to the Chiefs.
– Dallas got backup quarterback Jon Kitna for Anthony Henry, a starting cornerback. Wonder if the Raiders had struck earlier if they could have gotten it done for Stanford Routt?
Kitna is extremely competitive, highly professional and always pushes the starter, but also knows his role. Would have been a perfect backup for Russell.
– If you’re a Raiders fan, you’ve got to love the whole Jay Cutler saga regardless of how it turns out.
Very soon, Broncos coach Josh McDaniels and Cutler will greet the media and invoke some or all of the Holy Trinity of athletes and sports journalism (misquoted, blown out of proportion, taken out of context).
But the beauty if the NFL Network is that you see what we see. If you’ve watched the Broncos post-game press conferences, your quickly realize that Cutler is a life-of-the-party quotemeister when he wins and a spoiled brat when he loses.
He gets a whiff of McDaniels’ interest in Cassel, and he responds accordingly.
That bodes well for AFC West opponents for close games in the fourth quarter.
– If the Raiders get serious about tackles Marvel Smith (Pittsburgh) and Khalif Barnes (Jacksonville), it’s reasonable to infer they believe the tackles they like best in the NFL draft will be gone by No. 7.
From a distance, it appears Virginia’s Eugene Monroe is the most athletic, mobile tackle on the board _ and it doesn’t sound as if he’ll be around.
While Barnes played left tackle with the Jaguars, some feel is he is better suited to playing on the right.
- Curious to see what T.J. Houshmanzadeh will “settle” for in the next few days. As reliable as he is, a 10-yard-per-catch wideout on a team often playing from behind becomes hard to justify when the dollars pile up.
– With Ekejiuba in the fold, the next special teams target could be Justin Miller, who returned a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns.
– It’s been more than two weeks, and the Raiders have still not confirmed the signing of cornerback Chris Johnson.
– I have a lot of respect for the job NFL Network analyst Adam Schefter does tracking down information. He was very good at it before he had the advantage of actually working for the NFL.
Same goes for Mike Lombardi. Even those former Raiders colleagues who aren’t fond of him begrudgingly admit his preparation and ability to have good information on virtually any prospect instantaneously were remarkable.
Yet you watch the NFL Network shows about the signings and every one is solid gold. Hole-in-one, birdie, hole-in-one.
Very little criticism has accompanied the signing of Hall by Washington. The deal the Raiders made to bring him aboard last year had its share of detractors _ including yours truly.
But now that Hall has gone elsewhere, it’s as if he’s become cleansed somehow.