After issuing tenders to Pro Bowl TE Zach Miller, RB Michael Bush and long-snapper John Condo last week, the Oakland Raiders stirred more noise and unlit the fuse on Monday, refusing to tender QB Bruce Gradkowski, which makes him an unrestricted free agent once the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is in place. Gradkowski, a fan favorite who also possesses great character in the locker room, most likely won't be back in Silver and Black at the start of next season.
Last season Gradkowski went 1-3 for the Raiders. He endured some struggles along with way until injuries kept him off the field of play. Nonetheless, he did unveil a terrific game and super comeback in Week 2 against St. Louis.
He came into the picture in his first year, as he took the wheel from the incompetent JaMarcus Russell. As one of the biggest busts in NFL history departed, Jason Campbell arrived to bring in some serious competition for the starting job with Gradkowski.
Former head coach Tom Cable mismanaged the QB position in 2010, turning Campbell into a heart warmer character and Gradkowski into everyone's favorite son. The attributes ultimately got neither of them anywhere near leaders of the team, as Oakland finished 8-8 overall, despite undefeated in the AFC West.
In his 2-year career as a Raider, Gradkowski produced 2,066 yards, 11 TDs, and 10 INTs with a 53.7 percentage of completions and a 73.7 passer rating.
Last month Hue Jackson announced Campbell will be the Raiders starting quarterback in 2011, so Monday's release shouldn't really cause your jaws to drop to the floor. Just long enough for the person closest to you why you have a surprised facial expression.
The five-year pro could come back to Oakland, but it's not too likely and is free to test the market as soon as a new CBA is settled (presumably this Friday).
The Raiders will only have one other quarterback on the roster in 2011, J.T. O'Sullivan, unless the team decides stock up through the Draft and/or free agency.
I can remember Bruce Gradkowski sparkling the crowd as chants of "Bruce, Bruce, Bruce" came from the stands in Oakland. Bruce Almighty was a true fan favorite—whether he was the starter or coming off the bench—he gave Raider Nation something to cheer about the last two seasons.