By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Tuesday, March 5th, 2013 at 8:01 pm in Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders apparently aren’t bent on purging everything associated to owner Al Davis in 2013.
Safety Mike Mitchell, widely regarded as a major reach as a second-round pick (No. 47 overall) in the 2009 draft, is cautiously optimistic about returning to the team that selected him out of Ohio four seasons ago.
Mitchell, whose exuberance and willingness to hit drew mostly compliments from coach Dennis Allen last season, said he left the Raiders facility following the season feeling good about his chances of coming back.
“The fact that they’re showing interest in getting a deal done I think that says that,” Mitchell said by phone Tuesday night. “At the same time, it’s a business. Things change overnight. You never know how that’s going to play out. It’s good for me to leave (Alameda) knowing they want to bring me back and it’s good for me to them to be contact my agent trying to get a deal done. That’s reassuring.
“They’re men of their word. I’ve said that since day 1. I believe coach Allen and Reggie are good me and they’ve followed that up by what they’ve shown me in free agency. But still, it’s an extremely tough decision. I’m not even close to making a decision yet.”
To review, Mitchell’s solid senior season at Ohio University and a spectacular Pro Day caught the eye of Davis. The Raiders picked him in the second round, while some draft analysts _ including the highly respected Mike Mayock of NFL Network _ had him as a late-round pick or free agent.
Mitchell said he feels capable of being a starter in the NFL. Whether the Raiders can offer that, or whether they’re even intending on offering it, remains an open question. Strong safety Tyvon Branch signed a multi-year deal last season after being named the club’s franchise player. Michael Huff, who moved to cornerback in Week 3 last season, is slated to return to free safety.
Both McKenzie and Allen have talked of Huff’s contributions at corner and about looking forward to him returning at free safety. Huff’s most recent contract would make him difficult to release. He’s due $4 million in salary plus a $4 million roster bonus entering free agency, but the amount of dead money from releasing Huff would total approximately $9.5 million.
More likely, the Raiders would reduce Huff’s base salary and extend him even further into the future. The final two years of Huff’s contract _ 2015 and 2016 _ are voidable years.