Beat writer Jerry McDonald spoke with Raiders tight end Zach Miller by phone earlier this afternoon. Miller sounded relieved to shed his player rep hat in favor of a football helmet. The question is, which helmet will Miller be wearing this season?
Note: The communication was actually through e-mail, not on the phone.
Miller declined comment on the upcoming free agent frenzy, in which he figures to be a pretty hot commodity. Free agency kicks off Tuesday, with the Raiders and the league’s 31 other teams free to negotiate with anyone they so choose. However, no deals can be finalized until 3 p.m. on Friday.
“I am happy we have reached a settlement that is a significant step in the process of reaching a long-term agreement benefiting fans, players, and clubs,” Miller said. ” It was a tough process, and I give credit to all the fans that were patient throughout the process. The end result is great for football for the next 10 years. We are excited to get back to playing the game we love.”
Naturally, the Raiders would love to see Miller in a Raiders uniform for a fifth season and beyond. It’s unclear what Miller wants to do. He is certain to have a lot of suitors. Miller led the Raiders in receiving each of the past three seasons, and he is regarded as one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the league.
Here’s an interesting thought, were the Raiders to lose Miller: Sign 10-year veteran Todd Heap, who reportedly was informed by the Baltimore Ravens on Monday that he will be released as soon as teams are allowed to purge players from their rosters.
Why Heap? For one, he still has plenty to offer. He caught 40 passes for 599 yards and five touchdowns last season. Also, Raiders head coach Hue Jackson is familiar with Heap’s ability from their days together in Baltimore.
Also worth noting is that Heap is a player the Raiders coveted in 2001. Then-coach Jon Gruden and several other Raiders front-office types believed Heap was the player the Raiders were going to draft in the first round. Ultimately, Raiders managing general partner Al Davis opted for safety Derrick Gibson.
Coincidentally, Miller and Heap attended Arizona State, and Miller has said in the past that he patterned his game after Heap.