Under normal circumstances, returning the bulk of your roster from a team that finished with a record of 5-11 would appear to be a recipe for disaster. In Oakland, however, familiar faces are a welcome sight.
Over the last six seasons, the word “continuity” has been a fable in the East Bay.
Five head coaches in six years to accompany five different starting quarterbacks on opening day and countless roster moves have left Raider fans swimming in a sea of outdated authentic NFL jerseys.
While most NFL teams were pounding kegs of coffee in preparation for the February 27th free agency frenzy to begin, the Raider brass was sound asleep having already inked two of the most prized free agents on the market.
The re-signings of Pro Bowlers Shane Lechler and Nnamdi Asomugha happened in succession just prior to the countdown to 12:01am on free agent Friday.
In stark contrast to the 2008 spending bonanza, 2009 has been all about keeping it in the family.
Tom Cable manufactured a miracle of sorts in 2008. As the interim coach, he oversaw consecutive victories to end a Raider season for the first time since 2002. Raider fans need not be reminded that the 2002 edition of the Silver and Black was featured on football’s biggest stage, the Super Bowl.
Yesterday, six more signings were announced on Raiders.com. Of the six, five are returning players with offensive tackle Khalif Barnes being the lone new addition. The majority of the newest, old, Raiders to put ink on new deals were special teams contributors including return specialist Justin Miller and long snapper John Condo.
There have been but three new additions to the Raider roster (quarterback Bruce Gradkowski and offensive tackles Erik Pears and Khalif Barnes) to offset a total of seven departures.
Five players were given their out-right release (FB Justin Griffith, OT Kwame Harris, SS Gibril Wilson, DE Kalimba Edwards and WR Ronald Curry) and two signed with other teams (C Jake Grove and S Rashad Baker).
Also, there was one tragic subtraction from the Raider roster: linebacker Marquis Cooper. His roster spot will be filled, but what he brought to the locker room may never be replaced. He is still listed on the roster and you can expect every Raider to be donning a #95 patch on his jersey this season.
There is but one minor mystery of sorts with regards to cornerback Chris Johnson. Johnson, the man who made DeAngelo Hall expendable, was reported to be the first Raider to re-sign this off-season. As of now, his status has yet to be posted on Raiders.com. Maybe it is just an oversight. Maybe it is a sign that something is still in the works. As it stands now, he is listed on the roster but not on the transactions page.
There are still voids to be filled. The most glaring are at safety and center. Still other positions are in need of an upgrade such as defensive tackle and wide receiver. Expect the majority of these positions to be addressed in the draft.
Monday was the beginning of the first off-season workouts . Raider players converged on the team facility in Alameda, some greeting each other for the first time since the rousing victory in Tampa.
Second year defensive end Trevor Scott said of his return, “I just got in last night, but it feels good to be back and seeing all the guys.”
Raider fans can’t help but share those sentiments, Trevor. It’s good to see the same guys back in black for the upcoming season. We’ve never been more proud of a 5-11 team and we can’t wait to see the majority of that same team take the field again. Well, we’d like to see a few more new faces in some key positions, but all-in-all, these are good signs
With the core of the roster re-signed, a foundation has been laid and now the heavy lifting can begin to build a winner in 2009.
Topics: Bruce Gradkowski, Chris Johnson, Deangelo Hall, Erik Pears, Gibril Wilson, Jake Grove, John Condo, Justin Griffith, Justin Miller, Kalimba Edwards, Khalif Barnes, Kwame Harris, Marquis Cooper, Nnamdi Asomugha, Rashad Baker, Ron Curry, Shane Lechler, Tom Cable, Trevor Scott