AFC West: Chad Ochocinco

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Chad Ochocinco is being released by the New England Patriots, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

I can feel the questions flooding my mailbag now. Let’s sandbag this baby.

Johnson
No, I don’t see Ochocinco as a fit with any of the AFC West teams, particularly the team that would reunite him with his former quarterback. Ochocinco is cooked. He is 34 and his production has slipped dramatically.

I know what some people are going to say: Ochocinco has a history with Carson Palmer and the Raiders don’t have a veteran receiver. Plus, the Raiders reportedly were interested in trading for Ochocinco last summer before the Bengals dealt him to the Patriots.

But Palmer and Ochocinco had their tense moments as well. As with another former Palmer teammate, Terrell Owens, I don’t think it be worth the Raiders’ time to pursue Ochocinco. Plus, one of the reasons the Raiders liked Ochocinco last year was his relationship with then-head coach Hue Jackson, who is close with Ochocinco. Jackson is now an assistant with the Bengals.

I just can’t see the appeal for the Raiders when it comes to Ochocinco. Why take a declining vet (with a history of being a distraction) and take away repetitions from young players?

I think the no-go on Ochocinco has to apply in Denver, Kansas City and San Diego too. All three of those teams are fine at receiver and if they want to add someone, there are better options with less baggage.

Final Word: AFC West

September, 30, 2011
9/30/11
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NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 4:

Ochocinco could have been a Raider: Chad Ochocinco is headed to Oakland with many people wondering if he will ever help the New England Patriots. He has barely contributed to a high-powered offense and he had a crucial drop in the Patriots’ loss at Buffalo last week. Ochocinco could have been a Raider. The Raiders asked permission to talk to Ochocinco in an attempt to acquire him from Cincinnati shortly before he was traded to the Patriots this summer. Oakland coach Hue Jackson coached Ochocinco in Cincinnati and the two remain close. Oakland considered Ochocinco as a veteran presence on a young receiving crew. It was probably a good thing Ochocinco went elsewhere. The Raiders are young at receiver, but they have a load of talent. With Ochocinco’s career likely on the downslide, his presence could have gotten in the way of the development of the group.

[+] EnlargeOakland's Denarius Moore
Kirby Lee/US PRESSWIREThe athleticism of Denarius Moore is a big reason why hopes will be high for Oakland's offense next season.
Never give up, Chiefs: The game in Kansas City on Sunday between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chiefs is a game between two 0-3 teams. It may not create a lot of interest, but it may be worth tuning into after halftime. Craziness could happen. The Chief showed their only fight of the young season in the second half at San Diego last week. After not converting a first down in the first half (it was the first time that has happened in the NFL since the 2009 season according to ESPN Stats & Information), the Chiefs scored 17 second-half points in a 20-17 loss. The Chiefs scored a total of 10 points in the first 10 quarters of the season. To further give the Chiefs confidence, the Vikings have been horrid in the second half this season. The Vikings have blown double-digit halftime leads in all three games.

It’s him again, San Diego: The San Diego Chargers will have to deal with Brandon Marshall again. This time, he’ll play the Chargers as a Dolphin. He tore up San Diego as a Denver Bronco before the receiver was traded to the Dolphins last year. In 2008, he torched former San Diego cornerback Antonio Cromartie for 18 catches and 166 yards. In total, Marshall, who has 17 catches this season, has 45 catches in six starts against San Diego.

Broncos have never been a big cheese in Wisconsin: The Denver Broncos head to the Dairy State to play the world champion Green Bay Packers with the hopes of returning in a good mood. The Broncos are 0-4-1 against the Packers in Wisconsin, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Denver has also never won at Miami or Baltimore. Besides Aaron Rodgers and company, the Broncos have history going against them Sunday.

Expect an offensive explosion in Oakland: Last team with the ball wins in Oakland on Sunday? Could be. The Patriots lead the NFL with 1,621 yards in three games. It is the most yards any team has compiled through three games, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Yet, the Patriots’ defense is giving up yards at almost as large of a pace. New England has allowed an NFL-high 1,406 yards this season. It’s the fifth most yards allowed by a team at this point of the season since the 1970 merger. The Raiders have scored 69 points in the past two games. This one could be fun.

AFC West notes

August, 7, 2011
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He is not Randy Moss or Chad Ochocinco but the Raiders added receiver Derek Hagan to this roster. He has 85 catches in five NFL seasons. The Raiders looked into both Moss and Ochocinco earlier in camp as they considered giving their receiver group a veteran presence. Perhaps Hagan will stick. The Oakland Tribune thinks the 2011 Raiders will look a lot like the 2010 Raiders.

There is a chance second-round pick Stefen Wisniewski could play guard if former starting center Samson Satele wins that job. Wisniewski is supposed to be the starter at center. Its clear Oakland coach Hue Jackson is trying to identify the best offensive players on the team and then he‘ll worry about exact spots later.

Meanwhile, Denver left tackle Ryan Clady is not feeling the effects of last season’s knee injury at all.

Darrius Heyward-Bey’s injury status is making folks in Oakland wonder. The team isn’t saying much. Meanwhile, Heyward-Bey, the No. 7 overall pick in 2009, might be getting passed by other young receivers such as fifth-round pick Denarius Moore, who has been a star of Oakland’s camp.
Meanwhile, Denver left tackle Ryan Clady is not feeling the effects of last season’s knee injury at all.

What's next for the Raiders?

August, 2, 2011
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The Oakland Raiders will certainly have to add another receiving weapon for quarterback Jason Campbell after star tight end Zach Miller signed with Seattle.

He was Campbell’s favorite target and the Raiders’ most reliable receiver. He led Oakland with 60 catches for 665 yards last season. The Raiders have several young receivers, but they could use a reliable, veteran presence at either tight end or receiver.

The Raiders’ starting tight end now is Brandon Myers. He has potential, but he is more of a blocker than a receiver. He has 16 catches for 99 yards in two NFL seasons.

Al Davis could pursue Giants’ tight end Kevin Boss. He is a solid player who is from the West Coast, but the Giants have shown some interest in bringing him back. Boss is no Miller, but he could help Oakland. Other free-agent tights include Alge Crumpler and Bo Scaife.

Oakland could also look to sign a receiver. Among the receivers available are Malcom Floyd, Braylon Edwards and the Giants’ Steve Smith. Once the Raiders get their salary-cap situation completely taken care of, I could see them try to get an established veteran.

There are indications that they were already looking at receivers. Tuesday, on “SportsCenter,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Raiders were only one of the teams that ‘mulled’ pursuing Randy Moss before he announced his retirement. Schefter indicated Moss, who had an unsuccessful stint in Oakland in 2005-06 wasn’t interested. Last week, the Raiders sought permission from Cincinnati to talk to receiver Chad Ochocinco before he was dealt to New England.

The Raiders nearly signed Baltimore left tackle Jared Gaither during the weekend, but he still has back issues that caused him to miss all of last season. If the Raiders still want a veteran left tackle, they could pursue Bryant McKinnie. He was just released by the Vikings.

With Miler out of the picture, the Raiders have to do something and there are plenty of options.

Meanwhile, Miller told the Oakland Tribune why he chose the Seahawks. The Raiders just weren’t offering much.
The Oakland Tribune had two interesting nuggets about the Raiders. They wanted Chad Ochocinco and they are the first AFC West team to have signed all of their draft picks.

The Oakland Tribune wrote that the Boston Herald reported that New England, San Francisco and Oakland all asked permission to talk to Ochocinco before Cincinnati traded him to the Patriots.

It’s not a shock. Ochocinco and Oakland coach Hue Jackson have a history together and it was known in league circles they’d like to work together.

Most importantly, it shows the Raiders are interested in adding a veteran receiver and they want outside help. Maybe Ochocinco was a special circumstance since Jackson is so comfortable with him. But I think we need to keep an eye on the Raiders when it comes to veteran receivers.

Meanwhile, the team signed third-round pick, tackle Joe Barksdale. That means the entire Oakland draft class is signed and ready for training camp. The Raiders have a reputation for getting their rookies signed quickly, and this is just one less thing for Oakland to worry about as it starts camp.
The San Diego Union Tribune reports San Diego running back Darren Sproles will soon decide between playing for the Chargers, Saints and Eagles. I don’t think the Chargers are going to offer the moon, so Sproles is probably looking at a smaller deal than expected. The Chargers could use him, but I think the team is also OK if he leaves.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Adam Schefter said San Diego receiver Malcom Floyd may be the next receiver to go off the board after Santonio Holmes and Sidney Rice have agreed to big-dollar deals. Schefter reports Minnesota, among other teams, may make a run at Floyd. The Chargers likely will not match a huge deal for Floyd.

The Chiefs just announced they signed six draft picks. They are: Allen Bailey, Jalil Brown, Ricky Stanzi, Gabe Miller, Jerrell Powe and Shane Bannon. UPDATE: Agent Joe Linta just told me second-round pick Rodney Hudson has agreed to terms with the Chiefs.

Here is another connection between defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin and the Chiefs. It would be a great fit.

The Saints have agreed to re-sign left tackle Jermon Bushrod. He had been connected to Kansas City.

Denver signed second-round pick Rahim Moore and now have signed its top three picks.

The Lions have some interest in San Diego inside linebacker Brandon Siler.

The Bears will release tight end Brandon Manumaleuna. The Chargers liked him when he was there. If he could come cheaply, I could see him coming back to San Diego. The Chargers missed him.

Guess we can forget that Chad Ochocinco-Hue Jackson reunion. The receiver is headed to the Patriots. Jackson coached Ochocinco in Cincinnati and the two remain close. Just a thought, but maybe the idea of New England getting another receiver will make the Jets ramp up their effort to sign Nnamdi Asomugha.

The Broncos have their eyes on one of John Fox’s former players to fill a key need.

UPDATE: The Bengals agreed to terms with former Oakland starting linebacker Thomas Howard. He was a backup last year and he was not in Oakland’s plans.

Evening AFC West notes

March, 30, 2011
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There wasn’t a major AFC West presence at the pro day workout of Washington quarterback Jake Locker, according to NFC West blogger Mike Sando.

Sando mentions that San Diego’s Randy Mueller was there. I wouldn’t read much into that. Mueller is based in the Pacific Northwest and there were other prospects there.

While Sando didn’t see any of the Denver brass there, the Broncos are expected to get a closer look at Locker in a private workout later this week. Denver is looking at several quarterbacks prior to the draft, even though it is expected to concentrate on defense.

Sando reports that Locker performed well at his pro day. He may have cemented himself as a first-round pick.
  • The Football Outsiders look at the aggression rate of NFL coaches. Not surprisingly, Kansas City’s Todd Haley was near the top of the list. Haley has earned a reputation for being one of the most aggressive coaches in the league.
  • The Kansas City Star reasons that Chad Ochocinco’s soccer stay in Kansas City doesn't mean he will play football in Kansas City. I agree. I don’t see the pairing.

Weekend AFC West notes

March, 6, 2011
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Let’s catch up on some AFC West weekend headlines:

Several Chiefs’ players are planning to get together on their own next month if there is a lockout. I think it’s a great move by these young Chiefs. They know they have a good thing going in Kansas City and they are planning to do what it takes to not fall too far behind. That’s a sign of a mature group of players.

Here’s a report that the Panthers are not sold on the idea of taking a defensive tackle No. 1, and are considering taking a quarterback. Denver, which has the No. 2 pick, is watching this closely. The Broncos are considering several defensive players for their pick.

Here’s a report that says the Vikings considered trading for Denver quarterback Kyle Orton, but now is off that idea. I say, let’s wait and see what happens when the new CBA is complete and players be traded. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vikings had interest in Orton again.

Oakland tight end Zach Miller hopes to stay in Oakland. I don’t think he has anything to worry about. One way or another, I expect Miller to be a Raider in 2011.

The Chargers and potential free-agent safety Eric Weddle are playing a talking game. I wouldn’t read much into this. I know the Chargers want to re-sign Weddle, and I expect them to pursue him pretty hard.

Here’s an opinion that suggests new Chargers safety Bob Sanders slapped the Colts in the face by going to San Diego. I don’t buy that at all. The Colts cut Sanders. What is the guy supposed to do? Not go get another job?

Add the Jets and Dolphins to the teams Bengals’ receiver Chad Ochocinco would like to play for. Earlier this offseason, Ochocinco talked about a reunion with Oakland coach Hue Jackson. Here’s the bottom line on Ochocinco: He’d play anywhere for the right amount.

UPDATE: Veteran San Diego inside linebacker Stephen Cooper expects he’ll test the free-agent waters. Fellow inside linebackers Kevin Burnett and Brandon Siler are also potential free agents. The Chargers will likely bring in one or two inside linebackers in the offseason.

Talking with Hue Jackson

February, 24, 2011
2/24/11
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Random thoughts from Hue Jackson’s media sessions at the NFL combine:

Jackson said he isn’t sure if he is going to hire a defensive coordinator. He said he will look at candidates, but he also said he likes his current defensive staff. There is a chance Chuck Bresnahan could be named the coordinator.

Jackson said he is ultimately the offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and special teams coach.

Jackson said that he is excited about his new staff and he thinks it’s going to be one of the best staffs in the NFL. He is particularly excited about having former Raiders Steve Wisniewski, Rod Woodson and Greg Biekert on the staff.

Jackson's eyes lit up when asked about Wisniewski’s nephew, Stefan Wisniewski. It is clear Jackson will consider taking the Penn State center/guard.

Jackson said he expects big things from second-year receiver Jacoby Ford. It's obvious Ford will be a starter. Jackson praised the Raiders’ young receiving crew and he said he is not sure the team needs a veteran receiver.

Jackson was asked about pursuing Cincinnati’s Chad Ochocinco. Jackson was careful not to break any league tampering rules and he said he couldn’t address Ochocinco. Yet, he did say the two were close.

Once again, Jackson pumped up quarterback Jason Campbell and said he believes Campbell can lead the Raiders to the playoffs.

Jackson said the Raiders will remain a 4-3 defense, but because they have so many defenders who are good fits for the 3-4, he said multiple sets will be used.

Jackson said he will continue to move toward being a power-blocking run team; the team will still use some zone-blocking schemes.

Jackson said he has been in touch with running back Michael Bush since his arrest for a DUI. He said Bush is doing well.

As he has been known to do, Jackson gushed about Oakland owner Al Davis. He said he doesn’t foresee any potential issues working for Davis and said he often picks Davis’ brain.
Add another intriguing veteran receiving option for Oakland in free agency.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting the contract of Washington receiver Santana Moss will soon void, making him an unrestricted free agent this year.

I could see Oakland showing interest in Moss. The Raiders need a veteran receiver to go with their young set of receivers, and Moss has connections to Oakland.

He played with Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell and for new Oakland offensive coordinator Al Saunders in Washington. I’m sure Campbell would love to have the reliability of Moss on the field in Oakland.

There has been speculation that, if he becomes available, Oakland could pursue Cincinnati’s Chad Ochocinco. He played for Oakland head coach Hue Jackson in the past and they are close. That makes sense, but so does a potential pursuit of Moss now that he will be free.
Had Carson Palmer asked to be traded a year ago, the Oakland Raiders likely would have been at the top of the list of logical destinations for the unhappy Cincinnati quarterback to land.

Now?

The timing just isn’t right.

While Jason Campbell has yet to prove that he can be the long-term answer in Oakland, Palmer doesn’t appear to be a better option at this point.

Last year, though, would have been a different story.

Palmer played for Hue Jackson early in his career in Cincinnati and Jackson is credited for helping develop Palmer. Jackson -- who was promoted to head coach last week by Oakland -- was hired as offensive coordinator last January. The Raiders considered several quarterback options last offseason as they decided to move away from JaMarcus Russell. The Raiders finally decided to trade for Campbell, 29, on the final day of the draft last April.

If Palmer was available in March, I bet he would have been reunited with Jackson.

Now that Palmer, 31, might be available, the Raiders likely won’t be looking for a veteran quarterback. I could see the Raiders drafting a quarterback to develop, but I don’t see a veteran being brought in to compete with Campbell.

Palmer’s Cincinnati teammate Chad Ochocinco might be available, and an Ochocinco-Jackson reunion seems more likely than a Palmer-Jackson reunion. Oakland needs a veteran receiver to help its young receivers, and Ochocinco could be the guy.

Chat wrap: Ochcocinco in Oakland?

January, 20, 2011
1/20/11
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The possibility of Chad Ochocinco joining the Oakland Raiders was broached Thursday in our AFC West, which was held earlier Thursday.

Ochocinco could be leaving Cincinnati. Oakland could use a veteran receiver and Ochocinco played for new Oakland head coach Hue Jackson with the Bengals. The two maintain a good relationship. It could be a good fit.

I think this will surely be a storyline to follow this offseason.

Other subjects broached in our chat were John Elway’s challenge in Denver and the upcoming draft for the Chiefs and Chargers.

Hue Jackson: moving forward

January, 18, 2011
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The following is a look at five foundations new Oakland head coach Hue Jackson can build upon and five areas Oakland needs to improve in if it is going to take the next step and become a playoff team:

Foundations

Points scored: Oakland scored 410 points in 2010, Jackson’s first season as offensive coordinator. It more than doubled its points total from 2009. Jackson’s influence on this unit will only get stronger with him in the big chair.

Darren McFadden: This is a special player. He was terrific in 2010 after a slow two-year start to his career. McFadden is a threat as an inside and outside runner, and he is a weapon as a receiver.

Jacoby Ford: This is one of the most exciting young players in the NFL. I wouldn’t be stunned if Ford catches 70-80 passes in his second NFL season, and his ability as a returner is stunning. I can’t wait to watch him play for a full season.

Special teams: In Ford, punter Shane Lechler, kicker Sebastian Janikowski and snapper Jon Condo, Oakland has a superior group of specialists. These guys help the Raiders win games.

Rookie class: Ford was part of a special group that included linebacker Rolando McClain, defensive lineman Lamarr Houston and left tackle Jared Veldheer. Expect guard Bruce Campbell to get a chance to play at some point. If the Raiders become a playoff regular in the next decade, the 2010 rookie class will be pointed to as the nucleus of the organization.

Needs to improve

Clean up penalties: The Raiders led the NFL in penalties in 2010. They have long had problems with on-field discipline. Jackson has to work on cleaning this area up.

Big plays allowed on defense: The defense has to work on limiting big plays. Oakland’s defense improved in 2010, but it was still exploited by big plays and gave up too many points.

Receiving group: Ford is a bright spot, and young receivers such as Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey have a chance to be good. But there are no guarantees any of those players are going to be consistent threats. Oakland needs a veteran presence. Cincinnati’s Chad Ochocinco could be available, and he played for Jackson in the past. He could be a possibility down the road.

More consistency at quarterback: If Jason Campbell can play at a more consistent level under Jackson in his second season in Oakland, the Raiders could be in good shape. Campbell did well at times, but he also struggled for long periods. He will be in Oakland for a complete offseason after being acquired last year during the draft. He needs to take advantage of the extra time with Jackson.

Keep core free agents: Oakland won’t improve if top players like Nnamdi Asomugha, Richard Seymour, Zach Miller, Michael Huff, Robert Gallery and Michael Bush all bolt as free agents. Oakland likely won’t be able to sign all of these guys, but it needs to keep as many as possible.
I’m sure he has other things to consider these days, but Vincent Jackson is seeing his image change dramatically this summer.

Jackson
Jackson
Until recently, Jackson was considered a throwback wide receiver. In an era of diva receivers, Jackson was different. He was quiet. He stayed out of headlines.

He is beloved by his teammates because of his hard-working attitude. How many No. 1 receivers attend special teams' meetings? Jackson does. In an interview last year, Jackson discussed being different than today’s receiver.

“And I’m OK with that. I enjoy that,” Jackson said. “Staying under the radar is not a problem when we have so many big-name guys on this team and very talented football players. I’m just doing my job, blending in, staying even keel and having fun out there.”

Jackson is no longer staying under the radar and blending in. In the slow days of the NFL summer, Jackson is now dominating headlines.

He has been embroiled in a contract issue with the Chargers and he is likely going to hold out well into the season. His name has been bandied about in trade talks. Although, ESPN"s Adam Schefter reports a trade is unlikely. He has just been suspended for three games after having two arrests for drunken driving.

I have gotten several letters from San Diego readers saying they think Jackson is a problem player and they hope the Chargers trade him.

It’s too bad because Jackson is truly a nice, quiet, hard-working player. He is not looking for the limelight nor does he look to cause waves a la Chad Ochocinco or Terrell Owens. But Jackson is now one of the hottest stories in the NFL and he has been lumped in with the group of high-maintenance receivers, whether he likes it or not.

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