AFC West: Gerard Warren
The Denver Broncos are in the midst of studying defensive linemen in the draft. The Broncos have the No. 2 pick of the draft and are considering taking a defensive lineman.
It’s no surprise they are still trying to find an answer on the defensive line. They’ve long tried to score at the position. From 194-2003, there were a dozen defensive linemen who were taken in among the top five picks.
Denver acquired five of those 12 players after they failed elsewhere. They were Dan Wilkinson, Simeon Rice, Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren and Dewayne Robertson. Only Warren had some form of success in Denver. Denver traded for Wilkinson but the deal was eventually rescinded because Wilkinson refused to report.
All of those players were brought in by former coach Mike Shanahan. Former Denver coach Josh McDaniels didn’t have much luck with defensive linemen, either. He signed free agents Jamal Williams, Justin Bannan and Jarvis Green last year. Green was cut before the season and Williams and Bannan were cut this offseason.
Now, it’s new Denver coach John Fox’s turn to try to finally score on the defensive line in Denver.
I plan to give out my own report card on the division’s draft sometime Monday. Here’s a hint: I think I’m going to be an easier grader than Mel. I liked what the division did this year.
Denver quarterback Kyle Orton is not bothered by the team’s selection of Tim Tebow in the first round.
The Chiefs plan on making speedy Mississippi running back Dexter McCluster, a second-round pick, a receiver. He will also be a return man.
Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli loves the SEC. Four of the Chiefs’ seven draft picks came from the conference, including the top three picks.
The Jason Campbell trade wasn’t the first time owner Al Davis and Mike Shanahan have done business together since Davis hired Shanahan as the Raiders’ coach in 1989. Denver sent defensive tackle Gerard Warren to Oakland three years ago.
Oakland coach Tom Cable is not ready to make Jason Campbell the starting quarterback yet. He does expect JaMarcus Russell to be at the team’s minicamp next week.
The Broncos are bringing in former Miami linebacker Akin Ayodele for a physical Sunday and will sign him barring any issues. He will provide depth at inside linebacker. Denver did not draft a front-seven defender. Coach Josh McDaniels said Denver has moved Mario Haggan from outside to inside linebacker.
McDaniels said the team will not add any veteran receivers. The team drafted receivers Demaryius Thomas in the first round and Eric Decker in the third round.
The only team in the division I see making a run at guard Alan Faneca is Oakland, but I’d say that is a long shot at best.
Defensive tackle Gerard Warren, cut by Oakland this offseason, has signed with New England.
Denver sent a fifth-round pick next year to Tampa Bay for two seventh-round picks this year.
» Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)
Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: Biggest needs revisited.
Denver: The Broncos have added three potential starting defensive linemen and a backup quarterback (at least for the time being) in Brady Quinn. Those two positions are probably out of the question for Denver in the early rounds. The Broncos do have plenty of needs, though. The Broncos will be looking for an inside linebacker after the release of starter Andra Davis. Alabama’s Rolando McClain has to be considered a possibility at No. 11. Denver is also looking for help on the offensive line at guard and at center. The Broncos will surely take a young interior offensive linemen early. With Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall’s future in flux, Denver has to be on the hunt for a receiver. This is a position the Broncos could address early.
Kansas City: The Chiefs have been aggressive in free agency. But because the Chiefs have to improve in many areas, there is plenty to target in the draft. Kansas City has been targeting several veteran offensive linemen, but I think it will try to draft an offensive lineman in the first round or with one of its two second-round picks. The Chiefs still have a big need at safety. If he is available, Tennessee’s Eric Berry has to be a real possibility with the No. 5 pick. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kansas City looked at a linebacker in the first three rounds, either. Even though veteran receiver Chris Chambers has re-signed, look for the Chiefs to try to get younger at the position, perhaps in the second round. The team’s need for a running back was filled with veteran Thomas Jones in free agency.
Oakland: The Raiders have been shedding veterans much more than they have been bringing in players so far in free agency. The need wish list still starts at tackle. The Raiders have long had a dearth there. There probably will be several solid choices at tackle with the No. 8 overall pick. Oakland has to consider this a priority position. The Raiders could also use a young quarterback in the early-to-middle rounds. With running back Justin Fargas cut, the Raiders also could use another running back, but it won’t be a high-round priority. With veteran Gerard Warren cut, Oakland will need a defensive tackle, probably in the early rounds. Linebacker is also an area Oakland may try to address early.
San Diego: The Chargers have as many draft needs as they’ve had in several years. The Chargers have seen several veterans leave through free agency, trade or release. The team has a lot of depth, but reinforcements are needed at several areas. The two main areas of need remain running back and nose tackle. San Diego will address these areas early. It just depends how early. The Chargers could potentially take two running backs early. It is a deep running back class, so San Diego will have options. San Diego really needs a nose tackle now that veteran Jamal Williams has been released and signed by Denver. Because nose tackles are more difficult to find than running backs, the Chargers may address this area first. San Diego could use help at tight end in the middle rounds and perhaps even a third-string quarterback. Linebacker and cornerback could also be addressed in the late rounds.
I have confirmed that the Chiefs will visit with free-agent guard Ryan Lilja on Monday. He is from Kansas City and he started his career with the Chiefs. Lilja was cut by the Colts on Monday.
Here’s a report that says former Oakland running back Justin Fargas will not sign with the Eagles.
The more I think about it, the more I think Oakland could be interested in bringing back defensive tackle Grady Jackson. He was cut by Detroit last week. Oakland has a hole in the middle after cutting Gerard Warren this week.
Tampa Bay signed former Oakland linebacker Jon Alston.
Arizona signed free-agent center Rex Hadnot. Denver had interest in him. The Broncos are still looking for a starting center.
ESPN.com has a fun way to keep up with the NFL draft.
Warren was due a bonus of nearly $6 million. There was no way Oakland was going to keep Warren. He joins Javon Walker, Greg Ellis and Justin Fargas as players Oakland has cut for financial reasons this offseason. Oakland has not added anyone of note this offseason. However, it did spend huge money to keep kicker Sebastian Janikowski and defensive end Richard Seymour from entering free agency.
The Raiders continue to pay for their disastrous spending spree of 2008. Oakland spent wildly that offseason with virtually no payoff. Now, the team is trying to shed contracts.
Warren was decent, but he wasn’t a game-changer in Oakland. He was acquired from Denver in 2007. Watch for the Raiders to target the defensive line in the draft.
He had an effect on Chiefs coach Todd Haley when he was the offensive coordinator in Arizona. That is a big reason the Chiefs signed Urban. Don’t be surprised if he becomes a rotational receiver in Kansas City.
The LaDainian Tomlinson market could get busy. He is set to visit the Jets on Friday if he doesn’t sign with the Vikings on Thursday. Don’t be shocked if Tomlinson never gets to New York. The Vikings want the former San Diego star running back.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter is indicating that Oakland defensive tackle Gerard Warren is looking at being cut or taking a paying cut because of a looming large bonus.
Backup Kansas City tight end Sean Ryan signed with the Redskins. He was not in the Chiefs’ plan.
It wouldn’t be a shock. The Raiders are looking to upgrade their defense and Warren has been part of a struggling line since he was traded to Oakland from Denver in 2007.
Fargas could be expendable because Oakland wants to give running backs Michael Bush and Darren McFadden more playing time. Fargas had 491 yards and averaged 3.8 yards per carry last season.
Meanwhile, it is being reported that center Casey Wiegmann is visiting Washington. Wiegmann was cut by Denver last week because the Broncos want to get bigger on the line. If he signed with the Redskins, Wiegmann would be reunited with former Denver coach Mike Shanahan.
Denver defensive end Darrell Reid was fined $10,000 for unnecessary roughness. He struck his opponent in the head area last week against the Giants with his elbow. He was receiving a warning. He is subject to larger fines and perhaps a suspension if he has similar infractions in the future.
San Diego safety Paul Oliver was fined $5,000 for unnecessary roughness after pulling the facemask of a Kansas City player Sunday. It was the second straight week Oliver received a $5,000 fine for a facemask.
Oakland defensive tackle Gerard Warren was fined $5,000 for a facemask at Dallas last Thursday.
|Jim McIsaac/Getty Images|
|Richard Seymour has gradually made the adjustment to playing in Oakland.|
It has been nearly seven weeks since Richard Seymour's world turned upside down. Although he’s clearly still adjusting to his trade from New England to Oakland, Seymour insists he’s happy with the Raiders.
Of course, I asked Seymour at the right time. I had caught up to him after Oakland’s surprise 13-9 win over Philadelphia on Sunday.
Seymour was a major reason Oakland won. He had two sacks as Oakland blitzed extensively for the first time this season. It was his best game as a Raider since Week 1, when he played on raw emotion and had two sacks less than 48 hours after arriving in Oakland.
When Seymour plays well, the entire Oakland defense plays well. It’s clear why the Raiders felt compelled to give up their first-round pick in 2011 to get him.
The Raiders want Seymour, 30, to finish his career in Oakland. He is a free agent after this season. Perhaps his mindset was altered by the sweet aroma of victory, but Seymour seemed willing to accommodate the Raiders.
Asked if he could see himself re-signing with Oakland, Seymour said: “Oh, yeah, I like it here a lot. I can see that happening.”
The Raiders and Seymour will likely commence contract talks shortly after the season. If the two sides can’t come to an agreement, Oakland could use the franchise tag on Seymour. With the Raiders owing New England a first-rounder, expect them to do everything they can to ensure Seymour remains a Raider in 2010. He made it sound as if it won’t be difficult.
“I want to be part of something special here,” Seymour said. “Days like this make you realize this thing can turn around here. I want to be here for the turnaround.”
Seymour believes the turnaround is coming sooner than later. He made headlines and raised eyebrows around the league this week when he predicted on a radio show that the Raiders will make the playoffs this season. He is clearly trying to parlay the excitement of the week and motivate his new teammates and fans.
Seymour got used to winning in New England, so the win over Philadelphia was a familiar and welcome feeling after three straight losses. He won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, and over the past six years he was a part of 53 more victories than Oakland.
Seymour thinks he can be part of the winning formula in Oakland.
“This can happen more often,” Seymour said. “We can win here. That’s why I’m here.”
Seymour insists he bought into playing with the Raiders even though it took him six days to report after the trade. Although he says he is happy in the Silver and Black, he admitted he is not thrilled with the way his New England tenure ended.
The trade completely blindsided him. He didn’t learn about the deal until it happened, the Sunday before the start of the season. Seymour was preparing for a Monday night opener against the Bills. He never dreamed he’d be preparing to play San Diego the same night as a Raider.
He found out about the trade from New England coach Bill Belichick in a short phone call.
I asked Seymour if he thought the way his departure from New England went down would cause free agents in the future to think twice about heading to New England. Seymour nodded but offered no verbal answer. He did say this: “You’d be surprised how many phone calls I received about the way they handled it.”
It still bothers Seymour that he wasn’t called into the Patriots’ offices after the trade.
“If the shoe was on the other foot, I wouldn’t have handled it the way they did,” Seymour said. “I would have called the guy in. But that’s just me.”
Oakland defensive tackle Gerard Warren said Seymour’s arrival was a major step in the right direction because Seymour oozes “winning tradition.” Seymour has brought both professionalism and a nasty demeanor to Oakland, Warren said. The latter was on display in Week 3 against Denver, when Seymour (who long had a reputation for being a physical, mean player) pulled the hair of Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady. He was fined $7,500.
“Seymour gives us a toughness,” Warren said. “He’s just a ballplayer. He’s a champion. Richard is the type of guy I want on my side no matter what I’m doing. Whether it’s playing football, fishing or chopping wood, I want Richard Seymour on my side.”
Seymour has no plans to go anywhere. Even though the Raiders and the Patriots were playing at the same time on Sunday afternoon, Seymour knew one major difference. The Raiders were playing in comfortable California weather. The Patriots were playing in a New England snowstorm.
“You saw what was happening there,” Seymour said. “This is nice. This is where I want to be.”
|Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images|
|The Oakland Raiders were clearly motivated against Philadelphia.|
OAKLAND -- Antonio Pierce’s harsh comments about the Oakland Raiders ended up doing both the Raiders and his New York Giants a favor.
Pierce’s words woke the Raiders up, who reacted by punishing the Giants’ NFC East rival, the Philadelphia Eagles, in a 13-9 upset win Sunday. Somebody should ship a game ball to Pierce.
After a four-week funk, the Raiders finally played with the passion they showed in a narrow Week 1 home loss to San Diego. In the three games prior to its stunning win over bumbling and unprepared Philadelphia, Oakland was 0-3 and was outscored 96-16. The embarrassment reached a climax last week when the Giants beat Oakland 44-7. Pierce said playing Oakland was like playing a “scrimmage” and he expressed shock at how listless the Raiders were.
“I’m not going to lie, it was noticed by us,” Oakland linebacker Kirk Morrison said. “We talked about it. We don’t want people saying that stuff about us. We all agreed that we were not playing with confidence and it was time to wake up. Those comments really got us going. ... What happened to New York today. They gave up 48 points [in a 48-27 loss at New Orleans]. This is a week-to-week business … But Antonio did us a favor by saying those things.”
Oakland defensive tackle Gerard Warren had this to say: “I hope we can get to the Super Bowl and face the Giants again … [Pierce] has no effect on this locker room.”
Actually, he did, and it was positive.
Oakland rookie Louis Murphy said the players took Pierce’s comments to heart.
“We had enough,” Murphy said. “We wanted to end this nonsense.”
Murphy played a major role in ending the nonsense. The play of the game was an 86-yard touchdown pass from JaMarcus Russell to tight end Zach Miller on a 10-yard pass. Murphy, a fourth-round pick from Florida, threw two nasty blocks for Miller, who rambled into the end zone to give the Raiders a 7-3 lead. It was Oakland’s biggest play of the day and the only touchdown of the game.
When asked if that play could be the turning point of Oakland’s season, Murphy said, "I think it is."
It takes only one win to change the morale of a locker room. And for now, all is well in Oakland, whether Pierce thinks so or not.
Warren said Oakland, thanks to its win Sunday, can now focus on the good and bury the past month.
“Spaceships don’t have rearview mirrors,” Warren said. “You can only look up.”
Here are some other key developments from Oakland’s win:
Here comes the blitz: The Raiders finally unleashed the blitz Sunday. Oakland had blitzed only 20 times going into Sunday’s game.
Oakland pressured Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb relentlessly. The Raiders had six sacks, their highest total since 2005. Philadelphia had major trouble with the blitz after left tackle Jason Peters left in the first quarter with a knee injury.
“We came after them hard,” Warren said. “We wanted it.”
Eagles coach Andy Reid admitted that his team didn’t expect Oakland to blitz much and that the Eagles were unable to adjust.
Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said the Raiders worked on blitzing in practice often during the week. He said he hopes the team continues to use it more in the future. The Raiders play host to the New York Jets on Sunday. Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez has been shaky in recent games, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Oakland tried to harass him.
Stopping the pass: Perhaps it was Oakland’s blitzing, but the Eagles were out of sorts all game. The team could do little right on offense and Reid tried to solve the problems in the air. Forty-six of Philadelphia’s 60 offensive plays were passes. McNabb completed 22 passes for 269 yards.
The Eagles ran the ball twice in the fourth quarter.
“We thought they would run some more, but they just kept throwing,” Oakland defensive lineman Richard Seymour said. “We just adjusted and played it pretty well.”
Oakland’s effort in the pass-defense game was admirable considering Asomugha missed most of the game with an eye injury. He said he the injury is not expected to be long-lasting.
Just enough offense: Oakland won this game on defense and because the Eagles floundered all game. But the offense did show some improvement.
Oakland had 325 yards of offense. It was the first time since Week 1 that the Raiders broke the 200-yard mark in total offense. Russell wasn’t great and he missed several open receivers. But he didn’t kill the Raiders.
He completed 17 of 28 passes. The Raiders continued to play it safe with Russell, but he looked comfortable. A key for Russell is finding Miller, his favorite target. Russell threw to Miller 11 times. Miller ended up with six catches for 139 yards.
Miller is Russell’s way out of the abyss. If Russell can rely on Miller, cut down his mistakes and throw accurately, he has a chance to salvage his season.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
The Raiders are reportedly shopping holdout defensive end Derrick Burgess. That makes perfect sense. He wants out. He's not showing at camp and the team has replaced him with Greg Ellis. Perhaps New England will renew its interest.
Maybe Denver, which needs pass rushers, will come calling. For those who think a Denver-Oakland trade would be absurd, please remember the Gerard Warren trade to Oakland from Denver a couple of years ago.
Denver reserve linebacker Nick Greisen tore his ACL and will be likely be lost for the season, sources close to the situation said. Greisen was injured in Denver's morning practice Monday.
The Chargers kept linebacker Shawne Merriman out of the morning session as a precaution. He is coming of a knee injury that kept him out of all but one game last year.
San Diego coach Norv Turner was excited Monday, saying that the team "added playmakers."
John Clayton takes an interesting look at the downfall of the AFC West in his mailbag.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
Our periodic AFC West rankings continue with the best defensive linemen in the division. We aren't going very deep here because Kansas City and Denver are transitioning to the 3-4 and overall it is not a super-strong division for defensive-line play:
1. Jamal Williams, San Diego: Williams may be getting older and his knees aren't doing him any favors these days, but he is still near the top of his game. He is a premier run stuffer and he sets the tone for San Diego's defense.
2. Luis Castillo, San Diego: Castillo is valued in San Diego and he is one of the few established standouts who are still in his prime in this division. He may not make a lot of spectacular plays, but Castillo is a solid piece of San Diego's defense.
3. Glenn Dorsey, Kansas City: Dorsey could be a much different spot in next year's rankings. He could reach his potential and be the top ranked defensive linemen in the AFC West. Or the No. 5 overall pick in 2008 could struggle in the Chiefs' 3-4 defense and fall down the list. I don't think that will happen. Dorsey has too much talent to not make a big impact.
4. Tyson Jackson, Kansas City: Jackson is ranked high for a couple of reasons. The Chiefs are high on him (he was a surprise pick with the No. 3 choice) and there aren't many other people to choose over him. The Chiefs hope Jackson and Dorsey, teammates at LSU, will make up for a nasty tandem. Jackson is more of a run stopper, but he has an imposing body and has good skills.
5. Tommy Kelly, Oakland: Kelly has good ability, but he needs to show it. He wasn't very good last season for Oakland after the Raiders stunned the league and gave him a $50 million contract. Kelly just didn't make enough plays to warrant that deal.
6. Robert Ayers, Denver: Ayers might be a linebacker, but the Broncos would like to him play out a hybrid defensive-end position. The Broncos are very weak on the line. They need Ayers, the No. 18 overall pick, to come in and make an impact right away.
7. Gerard Warren, Oakland: Warren may be nearing the end, but he is capable of making an impact at times. He is a solid player.
8. Trevor Scott, Oakland: This is just a hunch. I think Scott is going to emerge as a fine pass rusher for Oakland. He showed a nice burst as a third-down pass rusher as a rookie last season. If the Raiders trade Derrick Burgess, Scott will get even more opportunities to prove himself.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
This afternoon, we are going to look back at the last 10 years for every first-round pick held by an AFC West team. First up is the No. 3 pick, which is held by Kansas City:
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
The questions are pouring in so let's tackle the Jay Cutler saga:
Brian from St. Louis: Hey Bill, I'm just curious as to why St. Louis wouldn't be in the mix for Cutler? They have a "seasoned" QB who is getting older, plus the 2nd overall pick, and it would put Cutler in the NFC. As a Bronco fan who lives in St. Louis, I really wouldn't want Bulger in Denver, but he has had some success. I really wouldn't mind watching Cutler play here though. Just a thought...
BW: I could see the Rams getting in on the mix, but they have so many other needs that a new quarterback may not be St. Louis' top priority.
Tom Howe from Greensboro, NC: Bill, Love the blog man!! I am a huge Raiders fan and obviously know the history between them and the Broncos. I also know that a QB like Jay Cutler could totally change the face of our franchise and instantly make us a contender. Any chance it happens?
BW: OK, you want to see the Broncos trade the franchise quarterback to their most hated rival? Denver traded defensive tackle Gerard Warren to the Raiders for a fifth-round draft choice a couple of years ago, which was surprising enough. I can't see Cutler being traded to Oakland in any scenario. But it would be a crazy ending to a crazy story.
Matt from Denver: Bill, huge fan of the blog. With Bowlen coming right out and saying they will trade Cutler, what does that do to the asking price? Would they have been better served to keep things quiet? If they don't get a satisfactory offer, what happens then?
BW: Some people think the public announcement would hurt Denver's chances, but I don't think so. There are too many teams interested. Teams will be bidding against each other and the Broncos will get a package they want. This is a seller's market because of all of the interest.
Hancock from Charlotte, NC: No chance Carolina in the cutler sweepstakes???...Julius Peppers needs a 3-4.
BW: Yes, I can see the Panthers being in the Cutler mix. The Peppers connection certainly fits. He'd help Denver. But it probably would take more than just Peppers to get Cutler. If Carolina gets Cutler, it will become one nasty team. It would be an instant Super Bowl contender.