The parade of players who liked what they saw last year, felt energized by coach Hue Jackson and wanted a part of the Raiders return to prominence began soon after last season ended.
From the point, Raiders managing general partner Al Davis put in motion a plan that targeted most of his team’s prospective free agents, with the notable exception of cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
Guard Daniel Loper, cornerback Stanford Routt, defensive tackle Richard Seymour, linebacker Kamerion Wimbley. One by one, the Raiders locked up players they valued and wanted for the 2011 season and, perhaps, beyond.
The process continued once the lockout ended, with the re-signings of free safety Michael Huff, long-snapper Jon Condo, offensive lineman Khalif Barnes, backup defensive end Jarvis Moss, special teamers Sam Williams and Bruce Davis.
Next up is tight end Zach Miller. People close to the situation paint a picture of Miller being told by the Raiders to be patient, wait for the Raiders to tie up other loose ends and free up the necessary salary cap room so that they can give him the kind of contract he deserves.
Most of that has taken place. Hence, coach Hue Jackson and others are letting on that the time is almost here for the announcement that Miller is back for a fifth season.
“Zach is still a free agent, and I’ve talked to him several times, and hopefully that situation will be resolved soon,” Jackson said. “Which way it’s going to go, nobody knows.”
Several players say they are confident that Miller will be back. Just to make sure, those players are in constant contact with Miller, just in case he gets any ideas from other teams banging on his door or ringing his cell phone.
“We’re trying to get him back,” Huff said. “I talked with him this morning. We need Zach, Zach wants to be here. I hope everything gets done.”
Barring a last-minute, jaw-dropping offer from another team, and a change of heart by Miller, he will be back in the silver and black, and likely in time to practice Thursday, the day veterans who sign new contracts are allowed to practice for the first time.
It’s all part of the master plan laid forth eight months ago or so.