The relationship shared between Khalif Barnes and the Oakland Raiders can’t be described as dysfunctional. The two seem to get along just fine. Barnes played surprisingly well at right tackle last season so it only makes sense they would welcome him back next year.
What makes this relationship more like a friends-with-benefits type deal is that every year there seems to be a wait and see approach. The Raiders won’t offer Barnes anything more than a one year contract. Barnes doesn’t seem willing to seek secure employment elsewhere. So why not just stick with what you’ve got until something better comes along?
Barnes clearly likes playing for the Raiders. He’s stuck it out despite being pretty much an after thought until the franchise finally moved on from the disasters that were Cornell Green and Mario Henderson. With no other options in sight, Oakland had no choice but to give Barnes a shot at right tackle.
Wouldn’t you know it, the SoCal native went out and had himself an impressive year in 2011. Among the many question marks looming in the wake of the lockout, Oakland’s O-line was thought to be one of their biggest unknowns. Thanks to the efforts of Barnes, the Raiders were among the league’s best at protecting the QB and running the ball.
Though the coaching staff has changed, the offensive line is remaining mostly the same. Stefen Wisniewski will slide into his natural position at center now that Samson Satele is in Indy. Cooper Carlisle looks likely switch to left guard in order to allow newly singed Mike Brisiel to play on the right side. Otherwise Jared Veldheer will still be holding it down at left tackle with Barnes opposite him on the right side.
Khalif Barnes gets respect for going into each of the last three seasons with nothing more than the promise of a one-year contract. However if Bruce Campbell or Joe Barksdale aren’t looking like they’re ready to step up then isn’t it time the Raiders ante-up and give Barnes something more than an open ended audition?