Position group analysis: Defensive backs


Eighth in a series analyzing Raiders position groups as free agency begins (on the West Coast, anyway) tonight at 9 p.m.

Starters: CB Nnamdi Asomugha, CB Chris Johnson, SS Tyvon Branch, FS Michael Huff. Backups: CB Stanford Routt, S Mike Mitchell, S Hiram Eugene, CB Jonathan Holland, S Jerome Boyd.

Review: The Raiders were eighth in passing yardage surrendered, but part of that was because opponents were busy attacking the 29th-ranked run defense. Opposing passers compiled an 89.5 passer rating and the Raiders intercepted only eight passes. Huff had the best season of his career, Asomugha was avoided as much as possible and Johnson held up about as well as could be expected considering Asomugha was on the opposite side.

Branch, in his second year out of Connecticut, was second to Kirk Morrison in tackles with 124 _ more than any safety in the league. Depth was a problem. Routt had no interceptions, Eugene was overtaken by Huff and Holland and Boyd are projects changing positions, Holland from wide receiver, Boyd from college linebackers.

Contract status: Routt was issued the NFL’s most eye-opening tender, a first- and third-round designation that brings with it a salary of more than $3.2 million. Eugene received a second-round tender, his agent confirms. Everyone else is under contract.

What’s next: Do the Raiders have something up their sleeve with either Asomugha or Johnson in terms of a trade? Or is the mind-blowing tender to Routt simply another example of Davis seeing far more in a physical package than has manifested itself on the football field? It’s true Asomugha had a few rough years before he blossomed, but Routt has given little or no indication he is capable of doing the same.

Huff is due a $5.75 million salary that puts him with the elite at his position, and although he played much better, it’s a stretch to consider him Pro Bowl material. But at the NFL scouting combine, Cable went out of his way to say Huff had “arrived,” making it sound as if his salary is not an issue. It’s a big year for Mitchell, who showed promise toward the end of last season although Cable’s combine assertion that the second-round pick was “sensational” was a bit over the top.

It will be interesting to see what Mitchell can do if he keeps his hamstrings loose, gets in the kind of shape he wants and hits the ground running and hitting in July. Branch had some issues with angles and missed a tackle or three, but made more than his share and is the best looking young safety the Raiders have had in years _ very good for a second-year player they got in the fourth round.

Holland was on the roster primarily to return kickoffs, and the Raiders will look to replace him that area. That means he’ll have to make great strides as a defensive back to stick. Boyd will have had a full professional year under his belt as a safety, but the Raiders are more crowded at that position than they’ve ever been assuming Huff, Branch, Mitchell and Eugene are all still around.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • Here’s your chance to meet and greet the one and only RaiderDogg as well as many other Raider Blog All Time Greats! Here’s the info:

    Be sure and check out East Bay Sick next Saturday in Alameda, CA. KoolKell’s hood.

    These guys are always a killer show and of course nothing but ladies as far as the eye can see.

    Location:1700 CLEMENT AVE ALAMEDA CA 94501
    Time:10:00PM Saturday, March 6th


  • # KoolKell Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Richochet doesn’t believe my story, Check. Anything else?

    Those are YOUR words.
    I simply proved you’re a lying ass dog.

    As YOUR PROOF, you requested posters to go READ YOUR WEB SITE (not YOURS, it’s the brokers web site) where you posted that drivel..that is sad in and of itself.

    You sprouted off, acting all that, and I called you on it..like so many others did.
    I’ll say it again…you’re a loser.

    NO ONE WHO’S NOT A LOSER WOULD POST THAT IGNORANT CRAP..and certainly NEVER on a site that his prospective clients might read…that’s just plain unprofessional, and stupid, to boot.

  • Richochet

    You presume to know a lot about my business, are you in business?

  • Richochet

    You haven’t proved a damned thing. The only thing you’ve done is make a lot of ugly charges.

  • But Richochet, I must admit the venom in you is startling. My gawd man.

  • # Senior Beeecham Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Oh and I’m still waiting – but not expecting – you to someday use your little brain to think up a football topic you’d like to be schooled in.

    But after giving you 3 – count ‘em 3! – chances to come up with something, you were so paralyzed by fear you decided to hide in your cubicle. Poor little poodle … Must’ve been scary, huh?!
    Ah…the “feigning ignorance/confusion” reply.
    The offer was for YOU to broach a topic..so hey..no problem.
    Al…:) let’s discuss Al for starters, peanut.

    I think it’s scandalous on what Al did to the fans both when he came back to Alameda, on the signing day, as well as everything he did in 2002, both during Super bowl week, and following it.

    How do you view all of what happened?

    Oh..then we can discuss how Al drove off John Madden, and how their final year together went, including how the players felt about it.

    Oh..and what the hell..Al and the brigade of head coaches.
    What do you feel about all of Al’s butting in, what he’s done during practices, the over ruling calls he’s made to the different coaches?

    We’ll just start with that, peanut.

  • I’ll help ya a little beech…
    some players felt Al really screwed over Madden…
    any idea what I’m talking about?

    Oh..and some things happened during the SB week that really…really PO’ed a lot of people…both during and after…any idea what I’m talking about?

    head coaches? anything? hell…that’s easy stuff for ya..even your pathetic googling ass can find something on that…right, peanut?

  • kidseven

    Maybe mine it the minority opinion, but I’m very happy to see Routt stick around. I thought he played well last season. I think the Raiders ask a lot of their secondary, so naturally he was beaten on occasion, but I thought he was a luxury to have as an extra DB. And he might become and elite corner if he comes on the way Huff did this season. Davis has drafted the hell out of DBs of course, but I think the Raiders have the makings of a top-notch secondary this season. Now if they can just stop the run and get some pressure on QBs.

  • Richochet Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 12:32 pm
    Oh..and some things happened during the SB week that really…really PO’ed a lot of people…both during and after…any idea what I’m talking about?

    Enlighten me, I want to know what you are talking about. I don’t claim to know every behind the scenes story and what not and I am very interested…

  • RaiderRockstar

    Did Dakota’s wife have the kid already?


    Dogg: yes, a boy (I think)

  • 24

    It would not hurt to see Warren and Fargas cut. Both of them are easily replaceable. Fargas getting released would open up the door for Bush and McFadden but don’t be surprised if the Raiders went shopping for another back as well. The Defensive Line without changes could reshape itself like this…

    LDE – Shaughnessy
    LDT – Kelly
    RDT – Seymour
    RDE – Ellis

  • RaiderRockstar Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 12:42 pm
    Did Dakota’s wife have the kid already?


    Dogg: yes, a boy (I think)
    Sweet. Do me a favor and let him know that I said congratulations. I am not on here much any more and when I am he isn’t around. I appreciate it.

    Sh1t, I guess I could just send him an e-mail…

  • 24

    Laveranues Coles (WR) is available and would be a nice addition.

  • You here, Mistabrown? Another Republican politician bit the dust and got outed. Ashburn? DUI after leaving a gay bar. Ouch. Well, I guess not the “ouch” he was going to feel had he made it home with the “unidentified male” in the passenger seat.

  • RaiderRockstar

    Steve claims Kell was in the Civil War?

    ouch. LOL

  • Richochet, what happened between Madden and Davis?

  • RaiderRockstar

    NYJ did not tender DT Howard Green.

    get him in here for depth & competition. he’ll replace William Joseph …

    Kelly, Bryant, Green and the real NT we’re going to draft! booyah!

  • SteveAlford21

    RRs, I don’t CLAIM anything. The dental records still exist and Kell’s wooden teeth are a PERFECT match for those of an unidentified infantryman.

  • RaiderRockstar

    LOL @ Steve!

  • Senior Beeecham

    here it is again, so my little poodle doesn’t hurt his paws with all of his frantic reposting and cut and pasting –

    Wow, little Poodle, I’m impressed! You actually copped to failing to bring up any sort of topic in 3 attempts!

    That shows growth, little dude, something that does score points in your attempts to become my full time minion apprentice!

    First of all, just accept Al doesn’t consider the opinions of his fans in any of his business moves. So you’re wasting precious poodle energy getting worked up over him moving the team to whatever locale offers him the most attractive package. And he’ll stomp over anyone (except usually players) to get it.

    You ever heard of Idi Amin? Dictatorship has its price and the fans pay to live in Al’s kingdom. Don’t spend your days getting worked up about his injustice, it’ll just turn you into a bigger, wackier basket case.

    I’m not sure what you’re interested in learning about the coaching cavalcade that you should already know. No sane person could rationally explain how rapid turnover leads to team stability.

    Personally, I was hoping the Kiffin experiment would work out, mainly because the possibility of Monte installing a modern defensive scheme and Kiffin’s keen eye for college talent.

    Anyway, his meddling is mostly, if not all, to blame for the chaotic state of his team, its loss of financial value and league wide respect, not to mention his only way to buy free agents is by massive overspending.

    Hope that helps and gives you something to think about. Maybe next time we can discuss your favorite Raider merchandise purchases through the ages!

  • Osgood says Chargers are dumping Jamal Williams
    Posted by Mike Florio on March 4, 2010 3:48 PM ET
    Though Chargers special-teams standout Kassim Osgood has yet to launch his own OCNN-style Twitter journalism operation, the soon-to-be free agent has declared that the Chargers have cut nose tackle Jamal Williams.

    Osgood claims in a tweet that Williams, who was placed on injured reserve after only one game last season, is “officially gone.” In a later message, Osgood insists it’s true and points out that players share information with each other.

    As to his own situation, Osgood seems to be as intent as ever to leave, saying that a three-percent chance to play receiver in Siberia “is still a chance,” and that he has zero chance to play wideout with the Chargers, “and that is what they TOLD me.”

    So while plenty of guys who are eligible for restricted free agency are staying in San Diego, Osgood clearly isn’t — and Williams has been tossed out the door, too. If Osgood is accurate.
    Anyone interested in this cat?

  • 24

    Taylor Mays’ 40 time has become a big deal. If he actually runs a 4.2 (something) then Al Davis must be licking his chops. Maybe Al Davis trades Asomugha for a 1st round pick and gets Mays with either of the draft picks. Then he’ll move either Branch or Huff to corner and start Mays and Mitchell at the safety positions and keep Routt at the nickelback spot. I don’t know, his options are endless I suppose.

  • SteveAlford21

    Alright, Raiders fans… I’m leaving work for a bit. Try to keep the coups bloodless.

  • RaiderRockstar

    Dogg: i’ll take Jamal Williams & Kassim Osgood !!!

    goodbye Warren. goodbye Watkins.

    in other news … hello Boldin. goodbye Walker

  • 24

    RaiderDogg – I would absolutely pickup Jamal Williams. We could really use a true Nose Tackle to help clog up the middle. We could have…

    LDE – Shaughnessy/Ellis
    LDT – Kelly
    RDT – Jamal Williams
    RDE – Seymour/Scott

    You’d think our run defense would improve greatly…you’d think anyways.

  • RR

    I was talking about Williams but, now that you mention it, I would be cool with Osgood too. Good call.

  • 24

    yes in theory 😉

  • RaiderRockstar

    Jamal Williams turns 34 years old next month, but I think he’s still got another 2 years left in the tank.

    He had a triceps injury last year. At least it wasn’t a knee!

    at 6’3″ 348 lbs this dude is a beast

    go get him grandpa al !!!

  • 24

    Al Davis…spend that last little bit of money you have. Lets create a fantasy team. Lets win today. Sign Jamal Williams, trade a 3rd rounder for Boldin, sign anybody and everybody that looks better than a current start. Spend, spend, spend and lets go out there and overachieve by winning 6 games. COME ON!!!

  • I’m out for the day

    Everyone have an excellent day and I will see you all on Saturday!

  • 24

    Lets freakin see if its possible to keep a Head Coach for longer than 3 years. PROVE IT!!!

  • RaiderRockstar

    I would be cool with Osgood too. Good call.


    seems like a typical Al Davis move, doesn’t it?

    Osgood was undrafted, comes from a division rival he was unhappy with.

    6’5″ 220 lbs with blazing speed

    3-time Pro Bowl ST player

  • 24

    Al Davis has a soft spot for the special people.

  • Does anyone know if Richochet explained what happened between Madden and Davis on another thread? I want to read it. Sounds interesting.

  • RaiderRockstar

    SAN DIEGO (AP) The agent for Darren Sproles says the speedy little running back is staying with the San Diego Chargers.

    Gary Wichard says the Chargers notified him Thursday that they have decided to tender the restricted free agent a contract, which will be worth approximately $7.3 million. Another team would have to give the Chargers first- and third-round draft picks if they signed Sproles.

    The move comes six days after a source familiar with the situation said the Chargers had decided to allow Sproles to test free agency.

    Wichard says the tender will allow the two sides to continue talking about a long-term deal. The agent also says the Chargers realized there was “tremendous” interest in Sproles around the league.

  • snnyjcbs

    Huffs salary does not put him with the elite safetys in the NFL in terms of wages. Rolle the AZ safety is looking for 7 million to sign and they say he may get it.

    Huff has really come along this past year and if he can build on last year looks like a keeper. Branch which is a much better young safety than all but the people in the NFL are aware. Murphy after injury came on strong over the last 4 or 5 games being used in all the packages.

    As for Routt not showing he can do what Nnamdi did, the same thing could be said about Nnamdi before he did it. In todays NFL your third corner is a starter and they better have speed or you will be eat alive by the many teams that like to spread you out. You can never have enough corners and I expect the Raiders to take a corner at some point in this years draft.

    One last point, only the Raiders know what or what may have been offered for Routt in a trade. Many were stunned when the Ravens gave up a high draft pick for Washington that they used as a starter. The Raiders thought more of Routt in keeping him over Washington.

    No team in the History of the NFL has drafted, developed or fleeced another club out of more Hall of Fame or future Hall of Fame Corners than the Raiders and Al Davis. Most clubs in the NFL have never had 1 HOF corner let alone have them by the bunch.

    Nnamdi drafted and turned from safety to corner, future HOF? Lester Hayes drafted and turned from safety to corner, future HOF. Mike Haynes robbed from New England, HOF, Willie Brown robbed from Denver, HOF. Charles Woodson drafted, Jack Tatum drafted future HOF.

    There are others I left out that were also very good. My point is that I will look to Al Davis and the Raiders to make the choice on corners over many no nothing fans and media bloggers any day of the week.

    Last ask Denver how important speed is in a good NFL corner. They gave away a 1st round pick to take a corner that had great coverage skill in College but was slow with little speed. He was a bust last year and a liability in coverage, when it comes to corners no team has done it better or more often than Al Davis and the Raiders.

    And that is documented fact.

  • RaiderRockstar

    I’d take Laveranues Coles on a cheap 1 year deal.

  • Nnamdi21

    kidseven Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 12:38 pm
    Maybe mine it the minority opinion, but I’m very happy to see Routt stick around. I thought he played well last season….


    It is.

    He didn’t.

  • Nnamdi21

    RaiderRockstar Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 1:19 pm
    I’d take Laveranues Coles on a cheap 1 year deal.


    The ex loves Seattle so I’ve seen just about very game the last few years and Nate Burleson, except when injured, has really kicked azz.
    Plays with intent and authority.
    IF we snag a FA WR.

  • El Tato


    “The Ravens have extended a low (original pick) tender to restricted free agent QB Troy Smith.

    Smith could probably give a number of weak starting QBs a serious run in training camp, and should intrigue teams because the compensation level to sign him is only a fifth-round pick. Clearly, Baltimore isn’t committed to him as a long-term backup. The Ravens may use a mid- to late-round pick on a QB.”


    New Raiders OC Hue Jackson was Ravens QBs Coach las season. I wouldnt be surprised to see us trading for him.

  • Nnamdi21

    Ufk U up the ar-se EA sports. Madden sucks anyway…

    EA Sports to jack up its customers.


  • RaiderRockstar

    only the Raiders know what or what may have been offered for Routt in a trade. Many were stunned when the Ravens gave up a high draft pick for Washington that they used as a starter. The Raiders thought more of Routt in keeping him over Washington.


    the Raiders only got a 4th rounder for Fabian Washington. Former 1st rounder with 3 years NFL experience. He was 23 years old at the time of that trade and the Ravens just put a 1st round tender on him yesterday

    Routt was a 2nd rounder in 2005 (same draft). now has 5 years NFL experience and a reputation for being nothing more than a toasted nickel back. The Raiders thought so much of him that they gave up a 2nd rounder for DeAngelo Hall and handed him a $70 million contract. then after Hall was released Chris Johnson (not Routt) took over. then they gave CJ a 4 year deal with starter money last offseason!

    yeah. i’m sure teams are banging down the door to get a track star with zero cover skills for a 1st & 3rd. LOL

  • Senior Beeecham

    BTW, Ricopet, while you’re paralyzed, shivering under your desk too afraid to type, I came up with something that just maybe will calm you down –

    I, your Master Beeecham, leave an open offer for you to send your kids into the blog for some of my personal teaching lessons next time there’s something you’re unable to explain to them.

    I always enjoy the satisfaction of training my future minions at a young age!

    And Krappy – any word on the East Bay Sick show? Old tool, I know you aren’t seriously considering getting yourself injured this weekend!

    Hell Yeah!

  • Nnamdi21

    El Taco, Troy Smith is going to be a really good starter where ever he ends up. I pray Oakland will take him, but doubt it.

    The kids a winner. May not have the rocket arm or be tall as Russell, but he’s a leader of men and hard worker who can play ball.

  • 24

    El Tato – I would certainly hope the Raiders give up a 5th round pick for Troy Smith.

    Shoot…A 3rd round pick for Boldin and a 5th round pick for Troy Smith could realistically improve our offense.

    Cut Justin Fargas and not we’re talking.

  • 24

    I meant…now we’re talking.

  • 24

    The Jets just cut Lito Sheppard. Resciend the tender on Routt and go sign Sheppard as our nickelback. Hes only 28. PLEASE!!!

  • RaiderRockstar

    I’d take a chance on Troy Smith for a 5th rounder. but at what cost? He’d have to sign a contract with us and then the Ravens would have the option to match or let him walk & take a 5th in return …

    2 years, 2 million?

    probably more than he’s making now and he’d be able to compete for a starting gig!

    hard to justify paying him more than that with the 9.5 million due to Russell and 1.7 million due to Gradkowski

  • Madden (video game) sucks because the NFL signed an exclusive agreement with EA Sports. No competition. And, despite the far fetched raves I’ve heard from fans of the new Madden, I think it’s worse than last year. The graphics look more animated, with cheaper fonts. They’re cutting corners on their product, they’re going to charge more for it, and gamers who want a fresh new NFL game every year are stuck with it because they have no competition.

  • mcskinnnylegs

    24 Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 1:10 pm
    Al Davis has a soft spot for the special people.

    yup thats how we got the retard russell