Khalif Barnes and the Oakland Raiders share a dysfunctional yet productive relationship. Barnes is going on his fourth year wearing silver and black on Sundays, each season returning for a one-year deal. It’s as if both sides are afraid of commitment yet can’t imagine life without each other.
In his first two years as a Raider, Barnes was pretty much a non-factor. A training camp injury robbed him of competing for a starting gig his first year. Once healthy in his second season the veteran tackle saw action in 16 games, featuring heavily in Tom Cable’s triple-tackle sets yet he started only three games.
Finally in 2011 it all came together for Barnes as the Raiders were reward for their cautionary faith. He started all 16 games at right tackle and was a big reason why Oakland’s line was among the best performing units in the NFL.
Barnes earned a starting job coming out of camp and he embraced the opportunity, never looking back thanks to a season filled with consistency. For his troubles Barnes was rewarded with yet another one-year contract and the chance to compete all over again in 2012.
Such is life in the NFL. Barnes is obviously not seen as a long-term solution and thus will be battling to prove himself to yet another new coaching staff. Second-year man Joe Barksdale could give Khalif a run for his money but the vet should have the inside track on retaining his right tackle job. At 30 Barnes is getting up in NFL years but he showed there’s still plenty in the tank. And he’s not so old that another one-year deal won’t be on the horizon with another solid showing.