Tag:Oakland Raiders
Posted on: March 6, 2012 2:32 pm
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Report: Randy Moss 'lit it up' at Saints workout

Moss reportedly looked 'like the old Randy' on Tuesday. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Monday night, CBSSports.com's Ryan Wilson passed along a report that Randy Moss, currently a free agent, would be working out with the Saints on Tuesday. Some interesting reports have surfaced surrounding Moss since then.

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For starters, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Moss has a pair of other tryouts lined up for next week. And more importantly, Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com reports that Moss "lit it up" in his workout with the Saints.

"Hearing from multiple sources re Randy Moss workout today he lit it up. Was told he ran about 45 routes and 'looked like the old Randy,'" Glazer tweeted on Tuesday afternoon.

If this is accurate, it's fascinating. And not just because no one expected any good news out of New Orleans for a while, hey-o. Moss has already rebounded once in his career from a season where he looked to be finished as an NFL player (in 2006, with the Raiders) to post record numbers the following year (in 2007, with the Patriots).

So it's not unfathomable that he could do the same thing again. Sure, he's several years older and took a year off of football this time. But Moss' game is predicated on speed, and if his speed is back and he's able to torch defensive backs on vertical routes, he's going to draw interest from teams in the NFL.

And even if the reports of Moss performance are being overblown a bit, he should still expect to hear his phone ringing more often in the coming weeks.

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 5:30 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 5:46 pm
 

Report: Raiders will franchise Tyvon Branch

This means RB Michael Bush could be headed for free agency. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

The Raiders have informed safety Tyvon Branch that he will be franchised, the NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reported Thursday. Branch was the Raiders' leading tackler in 2011 and if the organization does tag him it will mean that running back Michael Bush, at one time thought to be a franchise-tag option, will hit free agency unless the team re-signs him (Bush was fifth in our Eye on Football free-agent RB rankings).

As CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Eric Gilmore explains, Branch can expect to earn $6.2 million under the franchise tag, which is $2.2 million below the going rate for franchised safeties in 2011. The new collective bargaining agreement comes with a new formula for determining the position-by-position tag value.

Branch was selected in the fourth round of the 2008 draft out of Connecticut. In related news: he ran a 4.31 40 at the combine. (We were shocked too.) His pre-draft scouting report explains how the college cornerback ended up as an NFL safety:

"Despite his impressive 40 time and success as a kick returner, Branch struggles changing directions. An instinctive, physical defensive back, Branch is best suited to playing cornerback in a two-deep scheme or making the transition to free safety."

Turns out, it was the right move. Branch has started every game since 2009, and had 109 tackles, four passes defended, a sack and an interception last season.  And CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco writes that Branch "should have been on the Pro Bowl team last year. He had an impressive season at a weak position in the NFL. It makes sense for the Raiders to keep him."

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 3:13 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 3:17 pm
 

Raiders might make Wimbley cap casualty

Oakland wants Wimbley to take a paycut, but he's already said he's not interested in doing so. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

As general manager Reggie McKenzie continues to make the Raiders a less-expensive (and possibly less-talented) club -- already, Oakland has purged cornerback Stanford Routt – it sounds like there’s a big-time conflict coming between the club and linebacker Kamerion Wimbley.

According to NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora, the team will cut Wimbley if the two sides can’t renegotiate his deal.

While the Raiders try to get under the salary cap, at this point, they’ll have to pay Wimbley $11 million for next year, including $6.5 million guaranteed (in August, he signed a $48 million deal).

Wimbley has been a valuable member of the Browns and Raiders defense since Cleveland selected him in the first round of the 2006 draft, averaging 61.5 tackles and seven sacks per season.

As the Raiders blog points out, though, Wimbley has the leverage, writing, “This is classic contract standoff. Wimbley has Raiders by the throat. They both want him and don't want his contract. Team using media.”

But if the Raiders do decide to let go of Wimbley, who said he’s not interested in taking a paycut, so they don’t have to pay him, there likely won't be a shortage of teams who are willing to compensate him for playing.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 3:22 pm
 

TJ Graham guarantees 'sub-4.3' 40 time at combine

TJ Graham reps NC State with a Wolfpack sign. (Will Brinson, CBSSports.com)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Wide receiver T.J. Graham produced loud numbers -- compiling 1,713 total yards on receptions (46) and kick returns (44) -- for NC State in 2011. But he'll make a bigger noise over the weekend if he follows up on a guarantee he made at the combine to run a sub-4.3 second 40-yard dash.

On Friday, we asked Graham what he expected his time to be over the weekend.

"Sub 4.3," Graham told CBSSports.com.

Thinking we might have misheard, we asked him to confirm that number. Since, as Rob Rang noted on yesterday, only 10 guys have gone sub-4.3 since 2000.

"You guaranteeing that?"

"Yup," a smiling Graham said.

40 times aren't the end-all, be-all obviously. But look at the wideouts on Rang's list of players who have gone under 4.3 seconds: Jacoby Ford, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jerome Mathis, Mike Wallace and Johnny Knox. That's a reasonably productive group of guys; if you want to argue that speed doesn't really count for anything, you'd have some work to do.

None of this means Graham is going to vault up draft boards if he posts a low number. And he could fall if he whiffs on the guarantee (especially with the Raiders not having a first-round pick this year). But Graham, the 219th overall prospect according to Rang, could certainly leapfrog some of the 27 wide receivers ranked ahead of him if he goes particularly low over the weekend.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 1:43 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 2:27 pm
 

Stanford Routt signs three-year deal with Chiefs

Routt tackles his new teammate Bowe. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Less than two weeks ago, Oakland made the decision to cut cornerback Stanford Routt. Less than two weeks later, he's a member of the Chiefs, one of the Raiders AFC West division rivals, Kansas City announced on Monday.

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According to multiple reports, Routt's deal is for three years and worth $19.6 million.

"Stanford has a proven record of success in the NFL," Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said in a statement released by the team. "He’s a talented player that has spent seven seasons in the AFC West, so he is familiar with us and our division opponents. We are excited to have Stanford join the team, and we are looking forward to getting started."

Routt was cut by the Raiders because his contract was simply untenable to new general manager Reggie McKenzie (or perhaps we should say "out of whack"?).

As our own Josh Katzowitz noted last week, Routt drew plenty of interest on the open market, as a talented cornerback available well in advance of most free agents being able to sign with teams on March 13.

Oakland's not off the hook, though. Multiple reports indicate that Routt's new deal will not offset the $5 million Routt was scheduled to receive from the Raiders in 2012, so the cornerback will be getting two paychecks.

"We are excited that we were able to come to terms with Stanford,” General Manager Scott Pioli said. “He is a talented player, and as we have said in the past, we are always looking to add competition at every position year-round. Stanford’s experience and level of play will make him a solid addition to our defense."

Perhaps the most interesting part of the addition of Routt to the Chiefs is what it means for would-be free-agent cornerback Brandon Carr. Carr was a strong possibility to get the franchise tag, but the Chiefs signing Routt means that wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is a much more likely target now.

Carr will then hit free agency at the ripe old age of 25 and likely draw a ton of interest from teams in need of a cornerback.

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Posted on: February 17, 2012 2:54 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 3:38 pm
 

Bengals hire Hue Jackson as assistant

JacksonBy Josh Katzowitz

Whatever faults you  might find with Bengals owner Mike Brown -- and I haven’t been ashamed in pointing them out -- you never can begrudge the man his loyalty. And he made another example of that today as the Bengals have announced they’ve hired former Raiders coach (and former Bengals receivers coach) Hue Jackson as an assistant helping the secondary and special teams*.

Jackson, you might recall, was fired only one season into his Oakland tenure after leading the team to an 8-8 record and trading first- and second-round picks to the Bengals for quarterback Carson Palmer.

*It should be noted that Jackson doesn't appear to have ever coached defense, though he did work with special teams when he was at Cal State-Fullerton in 1990 and the World League's London Monarchs in 1991. So yeah, this totally seems like a loyalty hire.

After Al Davis’ death and the hiring of general manager Reggie McKenzie, Jackson’s stay with the Raiders was doomed. Particularly after he tore into his team following a Week 17 loss, saying he was pissed off and disappointed. “I’m going to take a stronger hand in this whole team, in this whole organization,” Jackson said at the time. “There ain’t no way that I’m going to feel like I feel today a year from now. I promise you that."

Well, that’s totally true now, because Jackson should be in Cincinnati in Week 17 of 2012.

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It’s a place where he spent 2004-06, helping mold Chad Ochocinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh into two of the better receivers in the league. And while he had the Raiders in the race for an AFC West title this year -- until, that is, a guy named Tim Tebow emerged for the Broncos -- McKenzie decided to bring in his own coach after the season.

“A the end of the day, I didn’t win enough games, didn’t get to the playoffs,” Jackson said in January. “Once Mark (Davis, Al’s son) saw where the franchise was, after he hired Reggie, he gave Reggie the opportunity to bring in his own coach.”

There has been speculation on who actually brokered the trade that seems like it’ll pay off awfully well for the Bengals -- Jackson now says he only helped bring the Raiders and Bengals together and that those on a higher pay-grade made the final decision.

But now, Jackson is in the strange position to see how the deal works out from the opposite side of where he was when he first helped make it.

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Posted on: February 14, 2012 9:07 am
Edited on: February 21, 2012 9:59 am
 

What players will get franchise tagged in 2012?

Brees reportedly won't be happy if he gets tagged. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Monday February 20, NFL teams can begin to apply the franchise tag to players. They can do so up until March 5 at 4 p.m. ET. For those that don't know, the franchise tag is a method of keeping players from hitting the open market. Previously, the franchise-tag number was generated by averaging the top-five salaries at a position to determine a number for that position.

This year, the franchise tag value will be a percentage of the overall salary cap figure for the previous five years. As such, NFL.com (the league's official website, making the figures trustworthy, one would hope) the following figures, plus figures from last year that we've included:

Position 2012 Franchise Tag Value*
2011 Franchise Tag Value
Quarterback
$14.4 million $16.1 million
Running Back
$7.7 million $9.6 million
Wide Receiver
$9.4 million $11.4 million
Tight End
$5.4 million $7.3 million
Offensive Line
$9.4 million $10.1 million
Defensive End
$10.6 million $13 million
Defensive Tackle
$7.9 million $12.5 million
Linebacker
$8.8 million $10.1 million
Cornerback
$10.6 million $13.5 million
Safety
$6.2 million $8.8 million

*The only instances this doesn't apply: when a player already made more than the franchise-tag value, or when a player receives the franchise tag for the second-straight year, in which case tagging said player would cost 120 percent of their previous base salary.

Aside from the asterisked exception above, it's clearly much more cost effective to utilize the franchise tag on a player in 2012 than it was in 2011. Wide receivers like DeSean Jackson, Dwayne Bowe and Marques Colston might not be tag candidates at $11.4 million. At $9.4 million, they certainly are.


With all of that in mind, let's look at some possible franchise-tag candidates, in order of likelihood to be tagged.

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees, Marques Colston or Carl Nicks

The Saints are all but guaranteed to use their franchise tag. Brees is a free agent and there is a zero percent chance that they let him walk into free agency. This is an absolute zero; losing Brees would not only be a disaster for the franchise in terms of winning, it would result in riots on Bourbon Street.

Various reports have emerged about where Brees and the Saints stand. (His agent, Tom Condon, is involved in a small contract situation surrounding Peyton Manning in Indianapolis.) As CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote last week, "the road could be rockier than initially thought" when getting Brees a new deal.

If the Saints can't get a deal done by the tag deadline, they will use the tag on Brees and sort out a deal later. If they can negotiate a deal with Brees before then, either Colston or Nicks will likely get tagged. My money's on Nicks, who could be a steal at less than $10 million given his age and his performance on the interior line the last two years.
DeSean might finally catch that money. (Getty Images)

Philadelphia Eagles: DeSean Jackson

Reports are already rolling in that Jackson will be tagged and that the team will seek to trade him once they place the tag on Jackson. Philly better be comfortable rolling with D-Jax if they can't find a suitor, though, because the wide receiver is a good bet to swoop in and sign his tender quickly. The $9.4 million represents more than triple what Jackson's made in his entire career thus far, and you can bet he'd like to see some guaranteed money.

Worst case, of course, is that Philly ends up giving its top playmaker one more "contract year" at turning in a big performance before hitting free agency. $9.4 million is a lot to pay for a wideout, but it's better than a) doling out a big contract to someone new and/or a malcontent, or b) letting Jackson walk for nothing in return.

Chicago Bears: Matt Forte

The rumors of Forte getting tagged began long ago as the Bears said they simply won't let him get to free agency. And they can't: Mike Tice replaced Mike Martz, but that could mean Chicago becoming more dependent on Forte's skills as a rusher and pass-catcher.

Forte said he's OK with the franchise tag provided it leads to further contract negotiations. Those appear to be more successful this time around, without Jerry Angelo on the other side of the table. But if Forte struggles early in his return from injury (an MCL sprain) things could get dicey.

Regardless, he's a steal at $7.7 million in 2012.

Baltimore Ravens: Ray Rice

Another no-brainer for the team here: Rice is one of the most dynamic backs in football and accounted for a large chunk of the Ravens offense. Rice's league-leading 2,068 yards from scrimmage accounted for 38.2 percent of the Ravens 5,419 yards, to be exact.

Rice lead the team in rushing ... and receptions. The Ravens need him and it's unfathomable that they'd let Rice walk. He probably won't be happy about playing for $7.7 million in 2012 and it seems obvious that Ozzie Newsome would like to lock down a guy who's averaged just shy of 2,000 yards from scrimmage in the three years he's been a starter for the team.
Will Welker's drop hurt his value? (Getty Images)

New England Patriots: Wes Welker

Welker's taken a lot of grief for his now-infamous drop in the Super Bowl. But just because the guy missed one catch doesn't mean we should forget what he's done for the past five years in New England: Welker averaged 111 catches and 1,221 yards per season since arriving from Miami.

Here's where it gets interesting though: Welker will be 31 when 2012 begins. He's considered a "slot" receiver. But he reportedly wants to be paid like an "elite" receiver. (It's, uh, kind of hard to blame him.) Lots of people think Welker wouldn't be as successful without the Patriots system, but how successful would the Patriots be without Welker?

In other words, we might be headed to an old-fashioned standoff, where the Pats use the franchise tag on Welker (it's all but certain they will, mainly to avoid him landing with an AFC East rival), and Welker refusing to play. Our Rapid Reporter Greg Bedard's speculated as much previously, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Welker sit out the first few weeks if the Pats aren't willing to give him a long-term deal.

Washington Redskins: Fred Davis

Davis had a big year in 2011, catching 59 passes for 796 yards in just 12 games (with Rex Grossman and John Beck throwing him the ball). He missed four games when he was suspended under the NFL's substance-abuse policy. But that actually works in Washington's favor here, since they can commit just $5.5 million to Davis without any fear of long-term blowback.

Buffalo Bills: Stevie Johnson

I spoke with Johnson at the Super Bowl and he said he'd be amenable to playing under the franchise tag in 2012. And it's hard to imagine Buffalo letting one of the more talented and underrated receivers in the game simply walk away. Johnson, depending on the market, could be one of the top wide receivers available.

Given the nature of Buffalo's weapons on offense, $9.4 million isn't all that steep for someone who's produced as steadily as Johnson has over the past two seasons. He took a small step back in receptions, yardage and touchdowns in 2011, but part of that can be attributed to the injuries to Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the Bills late-season swoon.

And if he's willing to ditch the penalty-inflicting celebrations? He's worth it.

Bowe's a fan favorite in KC -- for good reason.(Getty Images)

Kansas City Chiefs: Dwayne Bowe or Brandon Carr

This is quite the conundrum for KC: does new coach Romeo Crennel, recently promoted from defensive coordinator, push to keep the 25-year-old defensive back, or does he sit back while the franchise lets Carr walk and hangs onto it's top wideout?

Bowe quietly put together another monster season in 2011, catching nine more balls than he did in 2010 and only three yards less. Granted, he found the end zone 10 times less this past season, but chalk that up to the Chiefs stupid-easy schedule against the pass in 2010. Oh yeah, and because he was catching balls from Tyler Palko for a quarter of the season.

Bowe's a better value at his franchise cost ($1 million less) I suppose, but Carr will be harder to retain in free agency, because of the nature of cornerbacks on the open market.

Atlanta Falcons: Brent Grimes or Curtis Lofton

The Falcons, not so quietly, have a ton of guys up for free agency this year. Grimes, Lofton, defensive ends John Abraham and Kroy Biermann and center Todd McLure lead the list. One of Grimes or Lofton surely will get the franchise tag.

For the same reason as listed with the Chiefs, Grimes makes the most sense -- he'll simply be harder to retain in free agency. Lofton would be $2 million cheaper but Grimes is more important to the Falcons defense. A logical move might be to feel out contract negotiations with both players (provided the Falcons want to keep both of them anyway), work out an extension with one as quickly as possible, franchise the other defender and look to cut a deal with them down the road.
It's hard to put a price on Avril's pass rush. (Getty Images)

Detroit Lions: Cliff Avril

Avril's made no bones about the possibility of being franchised, and isn't happy with the notion. But the franchise tag actually doesn't exist simply to keep a guy around for another year without paying him big money. It's to keep a guy around while you work out a long-term contract.

That's what Avril, who will turn 26 in April, wants, and it should be what the Lions want too, given their dependence on a strong pass rush on the defensive end of things. At $10.6 million he would provide nice value. Provided he played the whole season anyway.

Indianapolis Colts: Robert Mathis

Chuck Pagano's a defensive guy, and even though he's coming into a rebuilding project, it's hard to see he and general manager Ryan Grigson passing on a shot to keep a talented pass-rusher like Mathis around for one more year at a reasonable rate.

Mathis probably said it himself over the weekend on Twitter when he noted that "The #TAG is an honor but personally if i was tagged now id feel they didnt want me but just have not found my replacement yet." Prepare to be honored sir.

Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Spencer

According to one report out of Texas, the Cowboys are at least considering franchising Spencer. The logic isn't that the outside linebacker, drafted 26th overall in 2007, is a monster and worth $8.8 million next year. He's not.

But Spencer might be worth holding onto if the Cowboys don't believe they can fill that spot with a reliable enough player through free agency and don't want to force themselves into selecting an outside linebacker early in the draft and forcing him to play.

Giving Spencer that sort of cash at least provides a safety net for Rob Ryan's defense.

Green Bay Packers: Jermichael Finley

Finley's case is a fascinating one. At $5.5 million, the tight end is a no-doubt-about-it franchise tag choice. But what about at $9.4 million? I ask because Finley's reportedly ready to argue that he's actually more of a wide receiver than a tight end, based on the number of snaps he takes from a wide receiver position. (He may want to remove the words "best tight ends in the league" from his website then.)

The Packers don't seem ready to give Finley a long-term deal yet, but they're also not willing to let him go. That tune could change if Finley's awarded the same price as a wide receiver in arbitration.
Wallace's RFA status is a concern. (Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Wallace

Wallace is actually on a restricted free agent, but as Wilson pointed out on Tuesday's podcast, there's been a lot of discussion in Steelers-land about the possibility of using the full-blown franchise tag on Wallace regardless of his status.

Here's some hypothetical logic: the Steelers use the non-exclusive tag on Wallace, the Patriots, with two first-round picks in the coming draft, negotiate a deal with Wallace and force the Steelers to match said deal or take one of the picks from the Pats. The pick isn't that high and Wallace is a stud, so Pittsburgh, who wants to lock down Wallace anyway, would be letting the Pats (or whomever) negotiate for them.

Lest you think this is silly, look no further than a guy we already talked about: Welker. The Patriots obtained him via trade, but only after the Dolphins used the restricted tag on Welker. After they did, the Pats negotiated with Welker to work in a provision in his contract that would include a monster bonus if he played X games in the state of Florida (AKA "a poison pill"). The Dolphins caved and simply dealt Welker to the Pats instead of trying to play chicken.

The downside is that the Steelers would be forced to paying $7 million extra in 2012 for their No. 1 wideout. The upside is not getting poison-pilled by an AFC rival who'll then hijack the Steelers for the deep threat they need. Hypothetically speaking of course.

Oakland Raiders: Michael Bush

The idea of paying Bush more than Darren McFadden's been bandied about, and it makes sense given Run-DMC's injury history. It doesn't make sense when you consider that new GM Reggie McKenzie would suddenly have a ton of money committed to two running backs. But here's an idea: tag Bush, trade McFadden and then give Bush a new contract. You keep him off the market, you recoup some of those Carson Palmer draft picks and you keep the back best suited for Greg Knapp's zone-rushing attack.

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Posted on: February 13, 2012 10:11 am
Edited on: February 13, 2012 10:33 am
 

Randy Moss: 'I wanna play football'

Moss did a USTREAM chat Monday and said he wants back in the NFL. (USTREAM.com)
By Will Brinson

There's really nothing more surprising in life than finding yourself watching Randy Moss do a live USTREAM chat at 10:00 a.m. on a Monday morning. Except for this: Randy Moss announcing that he wants to return to the NFL while chatting live with fans on USTREAM.

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"I wanna play football," Moss said Monday morning. "Your boy is going to come back here and play some football, so I'm really excited. I had some things I had to adjust in my life."

It just so happens that Monday is Moss' birthday, so he gave back to fans by hopping on the Internet and holding a live chat. He seemed genuinely surprised by the fact that 100-plus people were watching around 9:45 a.m. ET, but was straight-up shocked when the number swelled to over 500 by the end of the hour, thanks to various people like our own Mike Freeman sending out links on Twitter.

Moss' live chat was both bizarre and entertaining. At one point, he pulled out a bag filled with all the hair he recently cut off and said it smells like "sauerkraut."

But, again, the most important thing is that Moss said he's coming back to football in 2012. Or, at least, wants to come back to football. There are teams (the Vikings, Raiders and Titans most notably) that can be crossed off the list.

Perhaps the Patriots are too much of a stretch for Moss. But there will be someone interested in taking a flier on Moss, particularly if he's as motivated as he sounded on Monday morning. On his birthday. During a USTREAM chat.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com