Wednesday, March 05, 2008

At least I'm not a Raiders fan

Who's running the Oakland Raiders anyway? Is it Al Davis making these ridiculous deals, or some bonehead in the personnel department?

Throwing $50.5 million at mediocre defensive lineman Tommie Kelly induced chuckles from sportscasters and football analysts across the country, and $39 million for mediocre safey Gibril Wilson might have been even worse, but I contend that today's $55 million signing of WR Javon Walker is the worst of the bunch.

The deal pays him $16 million in guarantees - more than Randy Moss - and $27 million over the first three years (the same as Moss.) There isn't any way to justify this. Walker's stats last year: 26 catches, 287 yards, zero TDs. Moss set the NFL record with 23 TD catches - Walker only had 3 more catches total. Of course Walker was injured, so the stats don't tell the whole story, but injury history should diminish his value. He's had as many knee surgeries as my mother's had husbands, and there's no way I'm handing $16 million to a guy with duct tape holding his ligaments together.

In addition, Walker has now talked his way off two teams. An oft-injured malcontent is exactly the kind of player you don't sign to a long-term contract with huge guarantees. How about $5 million up front, with tons of incentives and escalator clauses? That's what a shrewd GM would have used as a template, not the highest WR contract in the league.

The Eagles need a #1 WR, and they offered Moss a bigger contract than the one he signed, but they didn't even have Walker in for a visit. There's not a gap between these two guys, but a chasm, and the Raiders will regret overspending on the lesser of the two.

Asante Samuel - unanimously regarded as the cream of this year's free-agent crop, and a Top-10 player at his position - signed a 6-year $57 million contract with the Eagles. For only $2 million less, the Raiders get an injury-plagued player whose mouth has produced more than his hands, who wasn't even the #1 WR on his previous team. The Broncos cut him because they didn't feel he was worth the $5 million they owed this season. But the Raiders? They're happy to pay more than three times that amount before he ever plays a game in silver and black.


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