The careful and cautious approach that the Oakland Raider front office has taken this off-season has been a refreshing departure from the miscalculated cash catastrophe of 2008.
Still, there is something that feels amiss.
As if lost in the euphoria of late season success, the desire of the team to build and not destroy has become a mantra of not tampering with an unachieved perfection. A blind man need not sit through a single game. He needed only to listen carefully in order to hear the moans of agony that bellowed from the drunken gut of Raider Nation over the past six years.
Three wins in the final six games were a signal of hope, but by no means was it a rapid return to glory.
Day after day, rumor after rumor floods the internet. Beat writers report their leads and bloggers follow suit to spread said rumors amongst a thirsty public.
None of these rumored free agent acquisitions have come to fruition.
Contract talks with Khalif Barnes began. Then reports of a pending agreement quickly went the way of the arrival of Terrell Owens in Oakland. Speculation and nothing more.
Each week, a new author pens a post on their website that describes a possible trade or contract negotiation which will never come to pass, leaving fans to wonder if there are that many bored Raider fans out there or if the front office is in need of someone to aid in closing deals.
I will refrain from taking shots at other outlets that have been quick to pull the trigger on publishing erroneous reports. My years of following Raider football tell me to remain patient while awaiting the higher purpose to be revealed.
Now there is but one question. When?
When will we begin to see the roster take shape for 2009?
It is clear that the youth movement has become the modus operandi for Tom Cable and his staff.
What is not clear, to faithful Raider fans, is what that entails. Are we to expect a team composed primarily of young players and draft picks to take the field in 2009? Is 2009 to be a year of building for the future? What happened to Tom Cable’s promise of a return to the playoffs?
Who will be playing safety now that Gibril Wilson is collecting checks in South Beach? Is Erik Pears going to be the new starting tackle? Are we to anticipate a rookie playing center? Is the staff gambling on Michael Crabtree to be available at #7?
Questions mount while few answers rise to the surface.
The blind hope is that all moves, or lack thereof, are being done in a precise manner. There is still plenty of time between now and the first kick of the regular season. Due to the lack of free agency news, one cannot help but wonder if there is a plan in place or a simple change of ideals in response to a near decade of demise.
Only time will tell. For now, hungry Raider fans are becoming accustomed to going to bed on an empty stomach night after night.