Part of the Bay Area News Group

Fins’ investment in Grove a gamble

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009 at 10:21 am in Oakland Raiders.

UPDATES WITH PEARS, FOWLER NEWS

Jake Grove did an admirable job coming back from microfracture knee surgery to reclaim the job as the starting center for the Raiders.

Chances are he couldn’t have imagined all his hard work would pay off so handsomely. According to the NFL Network, Grove signed a a five-year contract with the Miami Dolphins which guarantees him $14.5 million.

There was no chance the Raiders were going to come up with that kind of coin. And considering they have a better idea about his physical issues than Miami, it was the sensible move.

Grove is a smallish (by NFL standards) but tenacious center who will find the going rough against difficult matchups in the AFC East.

The Raiders thought him better than John Wade, the man they signed to be the center when they were rightfully concerned about Grove’s physical condition.

Wade remains under contract with a salary of $1.5 million this season, and the Raiders can go about the business of finding their center of the future.

Fact is, Grove missed 26 of 80 games because of injury since joining the Raiders in 2004 and played in 19 of 32 the past two years.

Cal center Alex Mack is one of the most highly regarded centers in the country, and the Raiders have a wealth of inside information on him courtesy of line coach Jim Michalczik, his position coach in Berkeley.

At No. 7 overall, the Raiders may be picking too soon to take Mack. Another local center, Stanford’s Alex Fletcher, has a background in zone blocking and would be available later.

The NFL Network is also reporting the Raiders are hosting two Seattle free agents, quarterback Charlie Frye and right tackle Ray Willis.

Frye is a lot like Bruce Gradkowski, a player with some NFL starting experience who would vie for a spot on the roster to back up JaMarcus Russell. Willis, 6-foot-6, 315 pounds out of Florida State, saw his most extensive time in 2008, playing in 16 games with 10 starts.

According to the Seattle Seahawks on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the club wants Willis back but expects another team to pay him as a starter.

NFL Network: Pears signed, Fowler to visit

More news from the NFL Network pipeline: The Raiders have signed tackle Erik Pears, a lineman who was not offered a tender from the Denver Broncos and will hope to land a roster spot in Oakland, and will meet with free agent center Melvin Fowler of Buffalo.

Fowler was not re-signed in 2009 after playing in 15 games with five starts. He started 32 games the previous two seasons.

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  • LAto theBay

    missed most of 08 because of an apendectomy, but solid as a 2nd year starter in a ZBS.

  • JHill

    Last season he started all 16 games at right tackle where he is a much better fit but he remained below average, especially in pass protection.”

    ——————————————————

    This doesn’t sound like a guy who fills our need at RT.

  • RaiderRockstar

    “much better fit at RT, but he remained below average, especially in pass protection.”

    …sounds like a potential replacement for Cornell Green

    ***

    BBB: sounds just like Conbread Green!

  • inonewordraider

    Good info on this willis guy. I’m all for adding any kind of depth on OL and letting them compete with guys like Wade, Paul Mcq, and Green. If we do our OL doesn’t sound so bad and maybe we can go for Crabtree (if there), LB or Dline.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/skew-t/166654980/ BART Bridge Blues

    I’ll take a “below average” RT, over the “absolute worst” RT. He also backed up Ryan Clady at LT, so he gives us some youth and flexibility.

  • RaiderRockstar

    LOL @ Jhill. sounds like we’re on the same page.

    Erik Pears = Cornbread Green. both undrafted former donks that can’t pass block to save their lives!

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    Willis does not sound like a ZBS player, I agree. I just hope Cable’s ZBS and Davis’s Power schemes can co-exist without destroying both.

  • Dakota

    Fowler the C we are looking at…he has played for the Browns, Viqueens and Bills. Drafted in 2002, 29 years old 6’3″ 310 lbs…hope that is not Al’s answer to our center problems….

    year team games starts

    2008 Buffalo Bills 15 5
    2007 Buffalo Bills 16 16
    2006 Buffalo Bills 16 16
    2005 Minnesota Vikings 10 9
    2004 Cleveland Browns 15 3
    2003 Cleveland Browns 14 10
    2002 Cleveland Browns 1 1

  • True Blue Fader Hater

    KoolKell Says:
    March 3rd, 2009 at 10:42 am
    Obviously the NFL believes the Raiders misuse their players. They’re making out like bandits with other teams.

    My take: it works both ways. Players that had good runs with other teams do nothing with the faderz. Bad management or bad coaching? :twisted:

  • RaiderRockstar

    I’ll take a “below average” RT, over the “absolute worst” RT. He also backed up Ryan Clady at LT, so he gives us some youth and flexibility.

    ***

    BBB: he spent last year on the non football injury list I thought? He didn’t back up Clady!

    He started 26 games for the donks though in 2006 & 2007…

    In 2006 he shared the right side of the o-line in Denver with who? Cooper Carlisle.

  • JHill

    I’ll take a “below average” RT, over the “absolute worst” RT.

    ——————————————————

    Can’t argue with that. I’ll be happy with a drastic reduction in false starts from that position. He shouldn’t face too many speed rushers on the right side.

  • its_boneless

    Heard that we’re interested in Orlando Pace. How bout we offer our 3rd for Pace and Tory Holt. This could then give us some flexibility to trade down and draft. I would hope they still would address the wr position then, with Hakeem Nicks or Darrius Heyward-Bey. Who know if it only a couple of spots down Crabtree could still be there.

  • Dakota

    Willis, Pears, Fowler = garbage in garbage out?

  • http://flickr.com/photos/skew-t/166654980/ BART Bridge Blues

    He started the season as Clady’s back-up in the pre-season, but had an appendectomy and ended on the NFI list. He is not the answer for our O-line (I am still convinced we need to draft Oher) but he is a more than servicable back-up, considering Henderson, McQuistan, and Greene are the only Tackles on our roster with NFL playing time.

  • LAto theBay

    these signings are for depth, I’d imagine.

  • http://raiders Oakglenn

    These signings are direct evidence the Raiders feel their offensive line needs to be upgraded.

  • http://raiders Oakglenn

    Let me rephrase that, these signings and the signing of Robert Felton and James Marten are evidence that the Raiders feel the offensive line was the most under performing unit on the team last year. When you have a Q like Jamarcus, it makes sense to protect your investment.

  • LAto theBay

    66

    yup

  • RaiderTay

    Im just happy to see the Raiders focused on the OL. That is encouraging in itself. Now if we can only see some DLs come in for a visit.

    Does Crabtree remind anyone else of Tim Brown? He plays a lot like him.

  • lefty12

    as long as we don’t break the bank,let’s bring in as many OL as possible.

  • RaiderTay

    Does anyone know if their are any descent NTs on the FA market??

  • hwnrdr

    Why do we always go after aging players. I know Al wanted to draft Pace back when, but come on now…12 years later isn’t exactly when we sign him. I don’t care if it came with Tory Holt.
    On a different note, who knows, he may have 1-2 good years left and could probably mentor our young lineman.

  • Turducken

    Stay away from Fowler. Unless they just want him as a backup. But he’s a bum. Overpowered too often.

  • RaiderRockstar

    Melvin Fowler did not allow a quarterback sack in the four years as a starter at the University of Maryland. He took over center duties in his redshirt freshman year, despite having practiced at that position for only 10 days before earning the starting job. He was a model of consistency, as he started every game (44) he played in for Maryland.

    ****

    In the last 3 years playing for Buffalo, Fowler has started 37 games and played in 46 of 48 games. 4 false starts, zero holding calls and 7.5 sacks allowed over that 3 year span.

    Jake Grove (in comparison) last 3 years playing for the Raiders. played in 35 of 48 possible games, starting 30 of them. 3 false starts, 3 holding calls and 10.5 sacks allowed.

  • http://contracostatimes NoMoreFargas

    Crabtree isnt as explosive as Timmy was, remember he return kicks in college an early with the Raiders. I pretty sure he ran a sub 4.4 at the combine.

  • RaiderRockstar

    Stay away from Fowler. Unless they just want him as a backup. But he’s a bum. Overpowered too often.

    ***

    more durable and productive than Jake Grove (who Miami broke the bank for). see post #74

  • CCRaider

    Isn’t today the day walker gets the roster bonus…Does this just mean he is getting paid again? Or is he guanteed it because of injury? Just wondering…If he stays I hope it doesn’t cost us a milion dollars a catch again?

  • http:www.loinsofwealth.com Terry Cloth

    Oakglenn Says:
    March 3rd, 2009 at 10:27 am
    Once guys start having microfracture surgeries, they are an absolute huge gamble. See Walker, Javon

    —————————————

    Once Oakglenn starts posting this blog becomes a huge gamble.

  • its_boneless

    hwnrdr,
    that would be my idea is for pace to maybe mentor all the linemen that are on the roster now. And put him on the right side. All we would need is a couple of years out of him till the new guy is ready. This would apply to Holt also cuz we all know that Walker is not the best picture of professionalism. Kinda would be like when we had Lincoln Kennedy. I thought he was washed when we got him.

  • http://contracostatimes NoMoreFargas

    I do laugh when i see some one write Crabtree isnt big enough or explosive enough to play the x wr. What about Jerry Rice ?

  • http:www.loinsofwealth.com Terry Cloth

    Ok, either we are crazy, or some of our “former” players were way overpaid.

    Crapalo Hall – foreskins
    Jake Grove – flipper
    Girbil Wilson – flipper

  • http:www.loinsofwealth.com Terry Cloth

    hwnrdr Says:
    March 3rd, 2009 at 11:40 am
    Why do we always go after aging players. I know Al wanted to draft Pace back when, but come on now…12 years later isn’t exactly when we sign him. I don’t care if it came with Tory Holt.
    On a different note, who knows, he may have 1-2 good years left and could probably mentor our young lineman.

    ————————-

    Lincoln Kennedy was considered the same. Old and washed up. He had a great career here and changed our Oline into one of the best during his tenure.

  • hwnrdr

    That is what I am hoping for Boneless. Pace was an all pro for a reason and not because he sucked like Kwame Harris. As for Tory Holt, a big upgrade imo compared to Walker (unless Walker can get over all the bad ordeals of the past and get his head screwed back on straight!!!). We shall see, though.

  • RaiderTay

    “Signing Grove gives Miami the center it believes it needs to combat the towering and imposing defensive tackles in the AFC East such as New England’s Vince Wilfork, New York’s Kris Jenkins and Buffalo’s Marcus Stroud.” – Adam Schefter

    …LMAO

  • http://PROFOOTBALLTALK.COM DIRT LOT FOOTBALL

    TERRY CLOTH POST-82 I THINK LINCOLN KENNEDY WAS CUT BY ATLANTA AFTER HIS INITIAL CONTRACT OF 5-6 YEARS SO HE WAS A LOT YOUNGER W/A LOT LESS MILES.

  • LAto theBay

    This is good news, IMO, Nation.

    We’re making an effort to shore up OLine and we’re not doing it the flashy, overpriced way.

  • http://raiders Oakglenn

    # NoMoreFargas Says:
    March 3rd, 2009 at 11:50 am

    I do laugh when i see some one write Crabtree isnt big enough or explosive enough to play the x wr. What about Jerry Rice ?
    ———————————————–

    People don’t realize Rice in his prime was one of the fastest guys in the entire league. I was watching him work out before a playoff game once and I could not believe how fast he was. I don’t think he clocked that fast a forty at the combine or whatever but he was hecka fast. Early in his career, how many times did you see guys run him down from behind. Not often.

  • hwnrdr

    How many years left you gys think that Pace and Holt have left? I mean I thought that Bruce wasn’t going to do anything for the 9ers, but he did.
    Terry Cloth: Kennedy was a beast when he was here. With the Wiz…wow…could we get that line back?

  • RaiderTay

    I dont want them to sign Pae, but I would love to get Holt. That guy gets you a lot of YAC.

  • Turducken

    Fowler is more durable, true. And he is a smart center. But trust me, I’ve watched the guy in Buffalo games and he is not strong. He gets pushed back and he cant move anyone off the line. The Bills rushing game was horrible – Marshawn did all the work himself. Even with Peters, Dockery and ol Langston on the line, they could not run the ball.

    Like I said, Fowler would be an OK backup, but nothing more.

  • JHill

    If this is the year we are supposed to compete for the division, with an eye towards consistent playoff participants the following year(s), I don’t want any older vets that we will have to replace in a year or so. Let’s make a decision on a young RT and C and lets get a line that will be together and stable for a long time.

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    Paci is held together by bondo,I do not want him

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    PacE

  • http:www.loinsofwealth.com Terry Cloth

    DIRT LOT FOOTBALL Says:
    March 3rd, 2009 at 11:56 am

    TERRY CLOTH POST-82 I THINK LINCOLN KENNEDY WAS CUT BY ATLANTA AFTER HIS INITIAL CONTRACT OF 5-6 YEARS SO HE WAS A LOT YOUNGER W/A LOT LESS MILES.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++=

    Possibly, however, he was still considered a bust / washed out player.

  • Turducken

    RaiderTay Says:
    March 3rd, 2009 at 11:55 am
    “Signing Grove gives Miami the center it believes it needs to combat the towering and imposing defensive tackles in the AFC East such as New England’s Vince Wilfork, New York’s Kris Jenkins and Buffalo’s Marcus Stroud.” – Adam Schefter

    …LMAO
    ———————

    That’s hilarious. Schefter should stick to reporting instead of scouting. There is no way Miami “believes” that.

  • http:www.loinsofwealth.com Terry Cloth

    4evaRaider Says:
    March 3rd, 2009 at 11:59 am
    Paci is held together by bondo,I do not want him

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Who cares if “you” don’t want him. He would be a good addition, even if it was in a backup role. Torry Holt wouldn’t be worth the money.

  • DarthPirate

    I actually think Fowler would be a worthy signing. He would be an upgrade over grove IMO.

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    I meant to say we

  • http:www.loinsofwealth.com Terry Cloth

    I would be an upgrade over Grove. Anyone would be.

  • hwnrdr

    Yeah, but isn’t the Rams trying to shop Pace and Holt for a package deal?