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A Good Sign

Finally this long week is coming to a close.  It has been interesting on many different levels: getting papers done, 50 degree weather one day, a few inches of snow the next, Mizzou won their 4th straight game going into this Saturday’s away game with Kansas State, but the worst of it all was the news that Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright will miss the season due to an elbow injury.

With all that though, I’ve got something else on my mind this evening. Things have been slow for football with free agency in the NFL on hold because of the wait on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement to go through. The deadline to franchise tag one player for each team was this week, and even though the franchise tag could take on a whole new meaning, it is still interesting to see how it would shakedown for each team. The obvious rolled through– who didn’t expect Peyton Manning to get the tag from the Colts??? In Oakland though, all the speculation leading up to it was TE Zack Miller tagged to keep the young talent. Interestingly enough though, it went to linebacker Kamerion Wimbley.

Wimbley’s rookie contract was expected to expire, but there was a buyback option worth $3.5 million that the Raiders looked to excercise. ESPN’s website reported that “… Wimbley’s agent, Joe Linta, said the NFL determined that deal violated rules prohibiting base salaries rising more than 30 percent in a year.”

The Silver & Black slapped the franchise tag worth $10 million on Wimbley. Oakland acquired the former Florida State Seminole from the Browns in a trade last off season.

It seems like a big leap giving a guy an additional $6 million for one season, but I believe it is the right move. Wimbley led the Raiders with 9 sacks in just his 5th season. At just 27 years old, he has the potential to be a team leader and contributor for many years to come.

That wasn’t the only smart move by the Raiders front office today. They also re-signed cornerback Stanford Routt to a 3 year, $30+ million deal, $20 million of it is guaranteed. A large sum of money once again, but seemingly well worth it. All of the fretting to this point in the off season came because Nnamdi Asomugha, arguably the best cornerback in the NFL, will be a free agent. Asomugha is well-respected by everyone in football– he was targeted just 33 times by quarterbacks all season. More than past years, but still a miniscule number. Of those 33 passes, 13 of them were completions, that is 39.4 percent. Routt was targeted 99 times and he also allowed just 39.4 percent of those to be completed. Pretty good numbers, especially since in 2009 he allowed over 60 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught.

It will be a sad day if/when Nnamdi Asomugha dons a uniform that is not silver & black, but it is reassuring to see another young guy stepping up to fill his big shoes.

There are still a lot of key free agents for the Raiders to sign. Other than Asomugha, Miller, Michael Bush, Robert Gallery and Michael Huff all need new contracts. I doubt all of them stick around, but the majority need to if this team will keep making strides and improve on 2010’s 8-8 season. Just last week defensive linemen Richard Seymour and John Henderson signed 2  year contract extensions. Hopefully the presence of those two veterans along with the Wimbley and Routt can persuade their teammates to sign back on with one of the most storied franchises in the NFL.

Because everyone wants to be the Autumn Wind

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