Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

Desmond Bryant Only Keeper Among Raiders Free Agents

Reggie McKenzie has abolished the Al Davis scholarship program. That’s bad news for freakish athletes who moonlight as football players. Good news for the future of the franchise as contracts will be handed out the old fashioned way – they’ll be earned.

Of the 10 Raiders set to become unrestricted free agents in just over 24 hours only one stands out as a man that has earned the right to be rewarded with a nice raise. I’m speaking of Desmond Bryant, the former undrafted defensive tackle from that powerhouse of college football, Harvard University.

To be fair Michael Bush has also proven himself worthy of a nice new deal but there is just no chance he’ll get it from the Raiders. So for argument’s sake we’ll just factor him out of this conversation.

As for Bryant, he’s proven himself to be a valuable commodity among the many talented players that decorate Oakland’s defensive line. His versatility was vital once Matt Shaughnessy went down last season. Among Bryant’s most impressive traits is his mean streak. That might sound like a given when it comes to a D-lineman but you’ve clearly never seen Albert Haynesworth play if you think that is the norm.

Bryant has a way of walking the line that Ndamukong Suh seems incapable of constantly crossing. As a Harvard grad you know the dude has a solid head on his shoulders plus he’s worked hard for every NFL down he’s ever played.

Unfortunately for Bryant his timing is just slightly off. No doubt Al Davis would have given him a contract no other team would offer. Nothing too crazy, we’re not talking Tommy Kelly money here. But a Hiram Eugene sweetheart contract could have been in the cards. Instead he’ll have to settle for something a little more sensible should McKenzie and Dennis Allen agree with my take.

Now I’m not saying Bryant has Tommy Kelly talent. He’s a good-enough lineman that can add depth to a defense, not be the cornerstone of it. But the Dez Bryant that isn’t a knuckle head banned from Dallas shopping malls isn’t likely to slack off once he gets his pay day. A hard worker from the moment he arrived, Bryant has proven himself time and time again earning more and more snaps with each year he’s been in the league.

With other men like Samson Satele, Chaz Schilens, Jarvis Moss and Jason Campbell among Oakland’s soon-to-be free agent list it says something that Bryant stands out.

Obviously Campbell has no reason to stick around. Not when he can get starter money and a starting gig elsewhere. Schilens has long been an urban myth but his best chance to show his true potential came last season and he failed to separate himself from Oakland’s talented pack of receivers. Satele has been solid but routinely is abused by stronger and more physical nose tackles. His job should be handed over to the Pro Bowler to be in Stefen Wisniewski.

That pretty much leaves Bryant as about the only solid contributor that won’t cost much to retain yet will still be a bargain no matter what the final number is that he and the team settle on. Of course it’s not like Bryant’s talents are some hush-hush secret. He will likely have other suitors out there too. Al Davis didn’t corner the market on overspending so some other team could be willing to give Bryant an out-of-whack contract. If that’s the case I couldn’t fault the man. I didn’t go to Harvard but even I know money talks.

Tags: Al Davis, Oakland Raiders, Raider Nation, Fans, Popular, Featured Albert Haynesworth Chaz Schilens Dennis Allen Desmond Bryant Hiram Eugene Jarvis Moss Jason Campbell Matt Shaughnessy Michael Bush Ndamukong Suh Reggie McKenzie Samson Satele Stefen Wisniewski Tommy Kelly

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