The Oakland Raiders have been relatively inactive during the first 48 hours of the 2012 NFL Free Agencyfrenzy. But does Reggie McKenzie and company have something up their sleeve? The up-and-coming restored regime reduced its cap space to a league-low $639,966 on Tuesday evening after announcing it would be cutting ties with tight end Kevin Boss and 15 other players who were all on the 2011 roster.
Tight End State of Affairs
Replacing Pro Bowl TE Zach Miller with a four-year, $16 million contract, Boss finished last season with just 28 receptions for 368 yards and three scores in 14 contests. Former head coach Hue Jackson clearly wasn’t too keen on using tight ends effectively on offense. Nonetheless, the departure does make room for a good group of young players at the position to make their mark.
Oakland selected two tight ends in last year’s draft—David Ausberry and Richard Gordon—and both of them suited up sparingly. Former sixth-round pick Brandon Myers (’09 draft) is still under contract. The 6-4, 250-pound Iowa alum accumulated 16 catches for 154 yards in 2011 and has 32 receptions for 250 yards in three seasons with the Raiders.
Last year’s golden boy Jason Campbell—who watched the team trade the farm for Carson Palmer after seeing his season end with a broken right collarbone—quickly signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears to back up Jay Cutler and left Raider Nation with a sour taste since they were under the impression he wanted to start elsewhere, rather than presume a backup position in another destination.
Playmakers Packing Their Bags
Other free agents for Oakland have been very active. According to the Arizona Republic, WR Chaz Schilens visited with the Arizona Cardinals and also was scheduled to visit with the San Francisco 49ers, according to the Sacramento Bee. Michael Bush is also taking his talents to another team and has seen interest from the Cardinals, the Cincinnati Bengals and Chicago Bears.
Kamerion Wimbley looks to be headed on his merry way as well. The Raiders’ star linebacker received a five-year deal worth $48 million last off-season and became a force to be reckoned with, registering seven sacks and finishing 15th in the league with 31 QB hurries and knockdowns.
If Wimbley is on the roster by 4:00 pm EST pm on Friday, under his contract he is in line to receive $17.5 million in future salary. Included in the guarantee would be next year’s salary of $11 million. Oakland is believed to want Wimbley to stay with the team but at a reduced rate.
If he does get released, the team will still have to pay him $6.5 million. If nothing occurs between now and Friday’s deadline the Raiders will owe him an additional $4.5 million if he’s still on the roster. Zero progress of any kind has been made on restructuring his deal and it’s expected that he could be cut as quickly as you can say, “rubber baby buggy bumpers.”
Oakland continued its overhaul on Wednesday, releasing the likes of defensive tackle John Henderson and guard Cooper Carlisle, which followed the recent releases of Stanford Routt, Chris Johnson, Hiram Eugene and Kevin Boss.
In other news, the team has also announced it has tendered one-year deals to restricted free agent defensive lineman Desmond Bryant and three exclusive rights free agents in fullback Marcel Reece, defensive end Mason Brodine and cornerback Bryan McCann.
These deals solidify the Raiders have the right to match any contract offer to Bryant or receive compensation if he decides to depart. The three exclusive rights players can negotiate with other teams.
Last week, Oakland restructured contracts with quarterback Carson Palmer, defensive tackle Richard Seymour and safety Michael Huff to save more than $20 million against the 2012 salary cap, followed by the restructuring of linebacker Aaron Curry’s contract to keep him for next season. Curry was acquired last October from the Seattle Seahawks for a 2012 seventh-round selection and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2013.
This all made it possible for the Raiders to fit under the $120.6 million cap by the start of the free agency period on landed on Tuesday.
Coach Dennis Allen and GM Reggie McKenzie are already putting their stamp on the franchise in the first off-season since the passing of longtime owner Al Davis. Look for the them to continue to make daunting decisions and try to strengthen the team’s chemistry and discipline as the upcoming 2012 NFL Season inches closer.