Much of the speculation revolves around what the rumored arrival of Ellis means not only to Oakland’s plans for the defensive end turned linebacker but also to trade bait incumbent starter Derrick Burgess.
Ellis was selected eighth overall in the 1998 draft and played defensive end for the Cowboys for the first eight years of his career. When Dallas made the shift to the 3-4, the former North Carolina Tar Heel was moved to outside linebacker. In 2006, Ellis played in only nine games after suffering an Achilles injury but earned the NFL’s comeback player of the year award and a trip to Honolulu in 2007.
Since John Marshall is content on staying the course of the 4-3 – despite the recent AFC West trend of running a 3-4 – it would appear that Ellis will be playing end instead of linebacker in Oakland. The next step could be the trade rumors of Derrick Burgess finally coming to fruition.
Burgess is in a contract year, but has seen a steady decline in production, due mainly to injuries, since his 2005 Pro Bowl campaign when he led the NFL in sacks.
Both Ellis and Burgess will be celebrating birthdays in August, with Ellis turning 34 and Burgess being the younger of the two by three years.
Before anyone in the front office considers moving Burgess out of Oakland, a few things should be considered. To begin with, Burgess is in a contract year and both his trade value and price tag could increase with a bounce back performance in 2009. Ellis was cut loose by Dallas after the Cowboys added new linebackers through free agency and he asked to be traded. The Cowboys clearly found no value on the market for Greg, thus his release was the only option. At 34, the best years are behind Ellis and trading Burgess would most likely only yield a couple of late round draft picks.
All in all, the arrival of Greg Ellis would benefit the Raiders most by keeping Burgess in the fold to further inspire Tom Cable’s approach to building strength through competition. Budding second year end Trevor Scott is poised to establish himself as a starter but having two veterans on the roster will keep the competition healthy, adds depth and provides versatility as Burgess is not an every down player and Ellis is capable of playing multiple positions.
That 53 man roster in Oakland is getting tougher to make by the day. Just the way that Cable likes it.