At 12:01 am on Friday, February 27th, 2009, the free agency tornado touched down on the NFL. Amid the chaos and swirling rumors Oakland, California, has been the eye of the storm.
The Raiders have taken a patient approach in their spending this off-season. Each day, another story appears to link the Raiders with a possible trade or a meeting with a free agent fielding job offers. To date, there has been but one acquisition during the free agency period.
Offensive tackle Erik Pears was signed away from AFC West rivals the Denver Broncos . He joins quarterback Bruce “The Big” Gradkowski as the lone new additions to the Raider locker room thus far.
All other contracts that have been tendered have been re-signings. Shane Lechler and Nnamdi Asomugha were the first two that fell in line and most have followed the lead of the two Raider Pro Bowlers.
Guard Cooper Carlisle, tight end Tony Stewart and linebacker Isaiah Ekejiuba all re-upped with the Raiders yesterday.
For the record, cornerback Chris Johnson was the first to re-commit to excellence but his deal – and a few other Raiders rumored to have been re-signed – has yet to be officially announced on the Raiders website.
This is a clear sign that when Tom Cable took a final look at the men he went to war with in Tampa back in December that he liked what he saw so much that he is staying the course. There are still many roster needs to be addressed. Just don’t expect them to come via the multi-million dollar route taken a year ago.
Instead, one can anticipate a meticulous and calculated approach to continue through the draft and into the pre-season.
These aren’t Lane Kiffin’s Raiders. These are Tom Cable’s Raiders. Where a belief in building with whatever tools have been left in the box is the philosophy. Cable is an old school ball coach. His presence in the organization was felt across the NFL when DeAngelo Hall was ejected from the East Bay only half way through the 2008 season.
Since then, there have been a plethora of exits offset by few arrivals. The trimming of the roster has been the biggest news to escape the halls of Oakland Coliseum in 2009.
Jake Grove has been the lone Raider to leave by choice. He inked a deal with the Miami Dolphins yesterday. The rest had their sit down with the Two Bobs. Gibril Wilson and Kwame Harris both learned that during the Cable regime there will be no tolerance for malcontent players nor will a poor job performance be rewarded with a paycheck for sitting on the bench.
The message is clear: Perform or go home.
While most of the locker room subtractions have been either expected or openly rejoiced, there has been one that has brought tears to the faces of teammates and fans alike.
Marquis Cooper was a late addition to the Raider family in 2008, but his presence within the locker room was long overdue.
Today, Tom Cable spoke to the media in regards to the tragic events that have affected the organization.
Back in November, the Raiders were in need of a linebacker to be used primarily on special teams. Cable remembered a guy he saw play at the University of Washington by the name of Marquis Cooper. When the Raiders first contacted Cooper he was out fishing off the coast of Florida.
Cooper accepted the invite and two days later was in Oakland.
Cable described Cooper’s arrival by stating, “We brought in three or four guys. The rest of them were out of shape and struggled through the workout. Marquis went from drill to drill asking ‘what’s next?’ “.
Cooper was an NFL journeyman who bounced from team to team. His nomadic career became the selling point that ultimately lead to his arrival as a Raider. Cable said he wanted a veteran who had “survived” the NFL.
Marquis, his constant smile and tireless work ethic played a vital role in the Raider revival that occurred late in the season. When Cable took over he inherited a locker room in shambles.
“We went through tough times in adjusting”, Cable proclaimed, “Marquis was instrumental in changing the attitude.”
Cooper’s influence was not limited to the locker room.
“He had an immediate impact on special teams and was given two game balls”, Cable stated.
Tom Cable refused to discuss any speculation surrounding the events that unfolded over the weekend in the cold waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Instead he offered his opinion on the current state of affairs that might give some hope to a grieving family and also assures Raider fans that we’ve got the right man in charge.
“You guys know me”, Cable said to the reporters in the room, “I look at the glass [as] half full. Until they find a body, I’m going to keep hope alive.”
These are tough times for Raider Nation. The past six years of misery have suddenly been put in their proper perspective by the tragic loss of a brother. The one silver lining in this gray cloud continues to be Tom Cable and his calming grip on the wheel of a ship traversing turbulent waters.
Topics: Bruce Gradkowski, Chris Johnson, Cooper Carlisle, Deangelo Hall, Erik Pears, Gibril Wilson, Isaiah Ekejuiba, Jake Grove, Kwame Harris, Lane Kiffin, Marquis Cooper, Nnamdi Asomugha, Shane Lechler, Tom Cable, Tony Stewart