AFC West: Carlos Rogers
The Oakland Raiders secondary should have a certain San Francisco 49ers feel to it this season as the Raiders signed their second cornerback from across the bay on Monday.
Carlos Rogers will join Tarell Brown, who signed on March 14. As it stands now, Rogers should be a starting corner opposite Brown and move inside in nickel packages, with last year's top draft pick, D.J. Hayden, coming in for Rogers.
"I don't want to say you can plug anybody outside, but being an outside corner is easier to learn," Rogers said in a conference call. "Nickel, you're dealing with the linebackers, you're dealing with the D-line, you're dealing with your corners and your safeties, so it's going to be a big part of what I need to do. I need to learn all the terminology and get the nickel spot down.
"I'm going to have a big opportunity to compete on the outside for a starting spot as a corner. For me, personally, my biggest role is going to be making sure I've got all the nickel stuff down."
He said he is excited to be reunited with Brown after being cut by the 49ers.
"It's going to be fun," he said. "We're two older guys that can bring experience, can bring leadership, can bring a lot of stuff to the table. I've played in a lot of different defenses and it's not hard to come over here and learn this defense and this terminology. We were a big part of the puzzle that turned San Francisco's defense around, so hopefully we can translate that over here and be even better.
"My focus is I want to continue to win and I want to continue to be a big part of helping to turn this organization around, like I did in San Francisco and continue to win and try to get to that Super Bowl and win it. I don't have any hatred for San Francisco. I had three great years of my career there."
Rogers is the 11th different free agent to sign with the Raiders since the new league year began on March 11. Oakland has also re-signed four of its own free agents and acquired quarterback Matt Schaub in a trade for a sixth-round draft pick.
Entering Monday, the Raiders had little more than $13 million in salary cap space, according to ESPN Stats & Information data.
"The Raiders have been one of the teams that have been more active in the offseason, trying to turn things around," Rogers said. "I see where this team is going and it wasn't hard to come here and finalize the deal. Especially playing with Tarell. And I have been good friends with Charles Woodson since I've been in college. It was easier to come here and play with them. Plus, I just have to move myself from one place to another, right across the bay."
This may be a reason: ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports when free agency opened Tuesday the Raiders had a league low $639,966 of cap space.
Now, that will improve when the release of tight end Kevin Boss kicks in. Oakland could also cut linebacker Kamerion Wimbley and defensive tackle John Henderson. So, Oakland (which already cut three other players and restructured the contracts of several players) will get some enough cap room to sign a few players and sign their small draft class.
But the question for rookie general manager Reggie McKenzie is this: Why didn’t he do all of his salary-cap shaving prior to free agency starting. Players are signing at a fast rate. I know Oakland is going to bargain shop, but there is no reason why it should give other teams a head start for any player. The Raiders’ don’t have a starting quality cornerback on the roster and top cornerbacks like Cortland Finnegan and Carlos Rogers are already off the market.
In other AFC West news:
- UT-San Diego reported that the Chargers want former practice squader Frank Summers to be the repair fullback. Jacob Hester, if he is re-signed, would spell Summers and play special teams.
- Add the 49ers to the list of the teams that want Oakland receiver Chaz Schilens. The Phoenix native is visiting the Cardinals on Tuesday and the Jets reportedly like him, too.
- NFL.com is reporting Seattle tight end John Carlson will visit the Colts in addition to the Chiefs.
- The Raiders reportedly gave defensive lineman Desmond Bryant a second-round tender in restricted free agency. It would be a shock if another team tried to sign him to an offer sheet.
If Carr goes to San Francisco, perhaps Oakland could get in on 49ers’ free agent cornerback Carlos Rogers. The Rams are talking to Saints cornerback Tracy Porter. He has been considered a possible candidate for Oakland, because he played for new Raiders coach Dennis Allen in New Orleans.
In other AFC West news:
Oakland free-agent Michael Bush tweeted that he has just arrived in Arizona. He did not indicate whether he is visiting with the Cardinals. However, with free agency open, it’s a possibility. UPDATE: Bush later tweeted that he is in Arizona to train.
NFL.com is reporting Kansas City quarterback Kyle Orton is getting interest from Washington and Dallas. The Redskins are expected to draft Robert Griffin III, so Orton would likely be a backup in both spots. Kansas City has said it would like to see Orton return and compete with Matt Cassel. If Orton doesn’t opt to stay, perhaps it is because he thinks Cassel will be the starter in Kansas City.
NFL.com is reporting Oakland receiver Chaz Schilens will visit Arizona and the Jets. Schilens is from the Phoenix area.
ESPN's John Clayton is reporting Washington is talking to Denver receiver Eddie Royal. That makes total sense. Washington coach Mike Shanahan drafted Royal in 2008, and Royal excelled under Shanahan as a rookie.
1. Defensive line: The Broncos could use a stout defensive tackle even if Brodrick Bunkley returns. They need a tone setter. Denver hasn’t taken a defensive tackle in the first round since 1997 when it selected Trevor Pryce. Perhaps this is the time that streak ends.
Possible fits: The Dolphins' Paul Soliai, Memphis’ Dontari Poe, Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox, Michigan State's Jerel Worthy.
2. Secondary: Denver is too old at cornerback and too young at safety, especially with Brian Dawkins likely not returning. I think the Broncos will look to add to their secondary.
Possible fits: The Redskins' LaRon Landry, Boise State’s George Iloka, Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick.
3. Running back: The Broncos want to add a running back to pair with Willis McGahee and will address this need either in free agency or early in the draft.
Possible fits: The Raiders' Michael Bush, the Chargers' Mike Tolbert, University of Miami's Lamar Miller, Virginia Tech's David Wilson, Boise State's Doug Martin.
Scouts Inc. take: "I also think that they need a lot of secondary help overall. I also think they really need a QB, but that is probably a discussion for a different day."
-- Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc.
Kansas City Chiefs
1. Offensive line: The Chiefs need a tackle. If they go for a left tackle, they can move Branden Albert to right tackle or they can get one. They might also be interested in a guard.
Possible fits: The Saints’ Carl Nicks, the Dolphins' Vernon Carey, the Eagles' King Dunlap, Stanford's Jonathan Martin, Iowa's Riley Reiff.
2. Nose tackle: The Chiefs have the makings of a strong defense, but they are missing a nasty nose tackle. They need to find one this offseason.
Possible fits: The Dolphins' Kendall Langford, the Ravens' Cory Redding, Soliai, Cox or Poe
3. Inside linebacker: The Chiefs could use one more standout linebacker to flourish in Romeo Crennel’s 3-4 defense.
Possible fits: Boston College's Luke Kuechly, Alabama's Dont'a Hightower
Scouts Inc. take: "Right tackle is far and away their biggest need. I would say nose tackle is second."
-- Matt Williamson
1. Cornerback: The Raiders currently don’t have any starting-quality cornerbacks on the roster.
Possible fits: The Saints' Tracy Porter, the 49ers' Carlos Rogers, the Cardinals' Richard Marshall, the Jaguars' William Middleton, Vanderbilt's Casey Hayward.
2. Linebacker: I get the sense that the new Oakland regime would like to find at least one new starter. I think they can get a cornerstone linebacker who can set the tone for the defense.
Possible fits: The Vikings' Erin Henderson, the Seahawks' Leroy Hill, the Bengals' Manny Lawson, West Virginia's Bruce Irvin.
3. Offensive line: The Raiders' offensive line is a work in progress and they may be looking for at least one new
Possible fits: Texans' center Chris Myers, Texans' guard Mike Brisiel, Miami of Ohio's Brandon Brooks.
Scouts Inc. take: "Cornerback is far and away their biggest need. I would put right tackle and interior offensive line second."
-- Matt Williamson.
San Diego Chargers
1. Linebacker: The Chargers desperately need a game-changing linebacker. It will be a top priority in the first round of the draft and in free agency.
Possible fits: The Texans' Mario Williams, Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw, USC's Nick Perry, Illinois' Whitney Mercilus.
2. Defensive line: The Chargers like youngsters Corey Liuget, Vaughn Martin and Cam Thomas, but could use a stud veteran in the middle.
Possible fits: The Seahawks' Red Bryant, Redding, Soliai, Washington’s Alameda Ta'amu.
3. Offensive line: The Chargers may have to make wholesale changes on the line because of Kris Dielman's retirement, and because center Nick Hardwick and left tackle Jared Gaither will be free agents.
Possible fits: Nicks, Carey, Stanford’s Martin, Stanford's David DeCastro, Wisconsin's Peter Konz.
Scouts Inc. take: "To me, the Chargers need a lot. Offensive line is a massive need. Some receivers would be nice if Vincent Jackson leaves. On defense, I think they could use a little something at every level, but their biggest two spots would be at outside linebacker and strong safety."
-- Matt Williamson.
Terry from Quantico, Va., wants to know if the Raiders could try to sign a veteran cornerback such as Carlos Rogers, Ike Taylor or Chris Houston as a free agent if Nnamdi Asomugha departs in free agency.
Bill Williamson: I think if the Raiders don’t pursue Asomugha, they may go with what they have at cornerback. That may be why they took two cornerbacks in the first four rounds of the draft. The Raiders spent big money on Stanford Routt and I’m not sure they can afford to sign another high-dollar cornerback. Perhaps if one of the top cornerbacks lasts on the market longer than expected and he becomes a bargain, Oakland could pounce. But that may be a long shot.
Andrew from Kansas City wants to know what we should expect from second-year Chiefs’ player Dexter McCluster in 2011.
BW: Kansas City coach Todd Haley expects McCluster to be a threat as a runner and as a receiver this season. He had 21 catches for 209 yards and he had 18 rushes for 71 yards. McCluster was also a returner during his first season. The key for McCluster is his health. He missed five games due to injuries as a rookie. If McCluster can stay on the field, he will be another weapon for a diverse offense.
Mikey from San Diego wants to know if I think Chargers’ safety Eric Weddle will leave in free agency.
BW: I think it is far from certain that Weddle will leave. I know it has been reported that Jacksonville could pursue Weddle. Look, if he hits free agency, a lot of teams will go after him. But we won’t know if he is restricted or unrestricted until after the lockout. The Chargers like Weddle and are interested in keeping him. So, it would be a mistake to assume Weddle will definitely be elsewhere in 2011.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday night that the Redskins are actively pursuing Denver quarterback Jay Cutler.
I have long heard that Washington would be in on the Cutler sweepstakes. The Redskins are one of the most aggressive franchises in the NFL. There are several teams pushing for Cutler but the Redskins can end this chase quickly.
A name surfacing around the league is Washington cornerback Carlos Rogers. He could be part of a package that would land Cutler in Washington. Whatever the package, is it is going to be complicated and it could involve multiple teams.
A source close to the situation said Wednesday night teams joining Washington in the Cutler sweepstakes include Chicago, Tampa Bay and Tennessee. The Titans' interest would be fascinating since they already have Kerry Collins and Vince Young. There are connections, though. The team's offensive coordinator, Mike Heimerdinger, coached Cutler in Denver and Cutler played at Vanderbilt in Nashville. Cutler (who attended an UFC event in Tennessee on Wednesday night) is a local hero there.
Meanwhile, the Cutler and Denver camps continue to throw verbal jabs. The Cutler side said the Broncos haven't tried to get in touch with the QB in recent days as the team said. In the team's release Tuesday night, announcing that it will pursue trading Cutler, it said Denver officials had tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with Cutler in a 10-day span. No matter what the truth is, it doesn't matter. The two sides are getting divorced. It's over.