AFC West: Gibril Wilson

Pros and cons of 2010 Raiders

June, 4, 2010
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Rolando McClain and Jason CampbellUS PresswireRolando McClain and Jason Campbell are two offseason acquisitions that give the Raiders optimism heading into the 2010 season.
The Oakland Raiders have continued their annual attempt to emerge from the doldrums.

Is this finally the year that it will work?

The following is a look at some possible solutions and continued issues for Oakland as it enters the season with the odor of an NFL-record seven straight years with at least 11 losses. Oakland is a stunning 29-83 during that time.

Reasons for hope

Quarterback play: Oakland surely will be better at the most important position on the field. The Raiders, who considered several quarterback options throughout the offseason, added Jason Campbell in a trade with Washington on draft weekend.

The Raiders then cut JaMarcus Russell. The No. 1 overall draft pick in 2007 will go down as one of the greatest busts in NFL history.

Russell was 7-18 as the Raiders’ starter and regressed in 2009. The Raiders were rarely competitive with him on the field and were much spunkier with journeyman Bruce Gradkowski at the helm.

Campbell is far from a great player. He quarterbacked a 4-12 team last year and was cast aside this offseason by new Redskins coach and noted quarterback guru Mike Shanahan. But in Oakland, the hard-working Campbell should be an upgrade. He has a good arm and he fits Oakland’s vertical scheme. He is also a solid game manager. Campbell may not win games by himself, but he won’t lose many either.

With a decent running game, an excellent tight end in Zach Miller and promising young receivers Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey, Campbell should have a positive impact on the offense.

“Campbell is not fancy, but he’ll make Oakland better,” said Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. “The Raiders will be competent at the position and you couldn’t say that in the past.”

A young stud at linebacker: The Raiders were pretty quiet in the offseason until the draft. Other than Campbell, Oakland’s only major acquisition of 2010 who could make an immediate impact was middle linebacker Rolando McClain. The Raiders took McClain with the No. 8 overall pick.

The Raiders have earned a reputation for whiffing in the first round in recent years. I don’t think this will be an issue with McClain. Expect him to be an instant impact player. He was a key to Alabama’s national championship team and was known as one of the most instinctive and brightest players in college football. He called defensive audibles himself, a rarity in the college game.

The Raiders’ run defense needs plenty of help, and McClain should be a huge addition. He will be a big upgrade over Kirk Morrison, who was traded to Jacksonville two days after McClain was drafted.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Wilson
Many folks around the NFL characterized the Oakland Raiders' decision to cut safety Gibril Wilson as imprudent. Oakland can't take back the decision now.

Wilson has agreed to a deal with the Miami Dolphins, exactly a week after he was surprisingly jettisoned by Oakland. There was some hope around the Raiders that Wilson could come back with a new deal. That is now impossible.

I am a bit surprised Wilson signed with Miami without somewhat of a fight from Denver and San Diego. Both teams could have used him. But a source close to Wilson indicated neither team made a real run to keep him after he was unexpectedly available on the market.

Oakland cut Wilson because it was in salary-cap trouble. Wilson signed a six-year, $39 million deal last year as part of Oakland's lavish free-agent spending spree. Wilson was the only new player in 2008 to make a difference for the Raiders. He had 129 tackles, which was the ninth-highest in the NFL.

Wilson was far from perfect, especially in coverage. But he was a solid player and he's better than what Oakland has now. But the Raiders can't look back now. Wilson is a Miami Dolphin.

AFC West mailbag

February, 25, 2009
2/25/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Chad from Missoula: Mr. Williamson- I know you probably get alot of these messages, but I need an answer for a burning question. With the Raiders having 3 great backs, what are the chances that the Raiders trade Justin Fargas and a draft pick for Anquan Boldin? Obviously, that would come with a monster contract for Boldin and assuming the Raiders would part with Fargas. I need an answer because we need a proven WR and we need it now. Boldin is THE only WR I want and I need to know if its possible... Thanks so much, Chad

BW: Thanks Chad, this does make some sense. The Raiders would be in good hands with Michael Bush and Darren McFadden in the backfield, and Fargas is still valuable. And the Cardinals could use Fargas. But in the NFL, even trades that make sense are difficult to make because of cap ramifications. But I could see this one working for both sides.


Serr from Denver: you're a hard guy to reach I've sent like 7 questions already and have yet to get a response, so here we go again. with the Falcons letting go of Milloy, do you see the Broncos signing Milloy and going out there to get Chris Mcalister to counter Bailey? afterall they did let go of Bly to Upgrade, Mcalister would be a HUGE upgrade

BW: Thanks for the patience, Serr. These guys could be an option, and so could any defensive back. Denver is looking for up to three new starting defensive backs, so everyone is a possibly. It's as simple as that.


Chad from Cape Coral, Florida: Hey Bill! Great job on the AFC West. You are my connection to all that is the Raiders being out here in Florida. With Crabtree being injured do you think the Raiders still take a chance on him at #7? I would prefer an OT, but our last "can't miss" left tackle isn't even playing that position now.

BW: Thanks, Chad. I think Oakland's chances of getting Crabtree actually increased with his injury because he will likely be available at No. 7 now. So, Oakland may get a shot at him and I see the Raiders having a very hard time passing him up.


Cody from Oregon: Hey Bill, I follow your reports... I was just wondering... I've been on the Denver Message Board and there have been talks about Champ Bailey possibly being traded? Is there any chance this may happen? For Denver's sake, I hope not.

BW: I've heard rumblings as well. But folks in the know say while anything can happen, it may be a stretch. Here's the deal: Denver only has a couple of good defensive players. Why trade one of them?


Mike from San Diego: Hey Bill, What do you think about the possibility of the Chargers signing Gibril Wilson? He's a solid tackler and would be an improvement in terms of coverage over Clinton Hart. I know A.J. has said that the Bolts won't go after a big-name free agent, but I think that Wilson fits the mold of the type of player A.J. would pursue.

BW: I think it makes sense as well, Mike. I've been making calls, and so far there's not much too it. But I will continue to monitor the situation.

You pick it: AFC West story lines

February, 25, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

It was a wild week in the AFC West, with significant news breaking nearly every day.

So our "you pick it" feature this week is full of strong candidates. Without any further delay:

The Raiders spend big on their own: A year after going on a wild spending spree for outside talent that didn't pan out, Oakland signed punter Shane Lechler and cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to record long-term deals on consecutive days.

The Chargers lock up Sproles: The San Diego Chargers put the franchise tag on backup running back/return man Darren Sproles. The team will try to work on a long-term deal for the multi-faceted threat.

The Raiders pay for 2008 mistakes; After cutting DeAngelo Hall in midseason, Oakland dumped several players including fellow 2008 big-dollar acquisitions Gibril Wilson and Kwame Harris.

Hit my mailbag with your vote for the best story. I will post some of your responses later in the week.

AFC West news and notes

February, 24, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The Rocky Mountain News takes a look at the available defensive backs Denver may look at in free agency, which commences Friday. Expect Denver to try to add two or three defensive backs as it rebuilds its defense.

The word around the LaDainian Tomlinson talks in San Diego is that it is conceivable that a final decision on whether the running back takes a new deal or gets cut could be delayed until the weekend. There is no hard deadline but the hope was to get it done before the new league year starts Friday. The longer the talks go, could be a sign of complications.

However, this is a serious matter to all parties and it will be diligently addressed before anything dramatic occurs.

Also percolating is the situation of Raiders' receiver Javon Walker. If Oakland cuts him it will be a big salary cap hit for a team that is already tight against the cap.

The team may try to get Walker to take a pay cut and give him another chance to make an impact in Oakland. It wouldn't be a complete shock if Walker, 30, opted not to play. He has suffered serous injuries three of the past four seasons and admitted last August that he had to be talked out of taking a year off to clear his mind earlier in training camp.

A source close to safety Gibril Wilson, who was cut last week by Oakland, said Denver and San Diego have yet to make inquires about the safety.

We close with a technical note: Our comments section our blogs and stories were out for much of Tuesday. It is now up and running so fire away.

San Diego free agency primer

February, 24, 2009
2/24/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers

Salary cap situation: The Chargers will be in the $15-20 million range. They will be able to do a few things if they decide to.

Needs: Linebacker, defensive tackle, safety, guard.

Possible targets: Baltimore linebacker Bart Scott; free agent Gibril Wilson; Miami linebacker Channing Crowder.

Biggest possible departures: Guard Mike Goff; defensive end Igor Olshansky.

How active will they be?: The Chargers usually rely on the draft and keeping their own players. They are concentrating on redoing the deal of running back LaDainian Tomlinson and signing stars such as quarterback Philip Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates this offseason. There may be some additions but, as always, the Chargers will be selective.

Denver free agency primer

February, 24, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Over the course of the next few hours we are going to take a final pre-free agency look at what may be expected from each team. We'll go in alphabetical order beginning with the Broncos.

Denver Broncos

Salary cap situation: Very strong. Denver cut five defensive starters and will have copious salary cap room. They should be able to do whatever they want in free agency. But the team is cash cautious so don't expect any huge signing bonuses being thrown around this year in the wake of several bad deals in recent years.

Needs: Defensive tackle, linebacker, defensive end, safety, cornerback, receiver depth, running back.

Possible targets: Atlanta defensive tackle Grady Jackson; St. Louis cornerback Ronald Bartell; Pittsburgh cornerback Bryant McFadden; free agent safety Gibril Wilson; Giants running back Derrick Ward.

Biggest possible departures: Defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban; Linebacker Nate Webster

How active will they be?: The Broncos are going to be very active. They will need about six new defensive starters so expect them to compile several defensive players in free agency.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

As expected, the Oakland Raiders' 2008 free agency class took another hit when the Raiders cut left tackle Kwame Harris.

He was signed to a healthy contract last year. The move raised eyebrows because the former first-round pick was a bust in nearby San Francisco. Harris fared no better on the other side of the Bay. Harris was known for repeated false start penalties and poor overall play in Oakland.

He was eventually replaced by Mario Henderson. Oakland will likely look for offensive tackle help early in the draft. Harris joins 2008 big-money acquisitions DeAngelo Hall and Gibril Wilson to be cut after signing huge contracts. The team still may cut receiver Javon Walker even though it would help the salary cap. Harris' release saved Oakland $7.116 million on the cap.

Harris' release was considered to be just a matter of time.

Oakland also cut fullback Justin Griffith. His release was a bit of a surprise because he was an effective player before he suffered a season-ending injury last year. The team is hopeful the injured Oren O'Neal will recover in time to start in 2009. Griffith's release saved several hundred thousand dollars.

Profootballtalk.com reported earlier Monday that defensive tackle Tommy Kelly reworked his deal some and will be kept. Kelly signed a $50-plus million deal last year yet like the other big-money deals of 2008; he did not live up to his deal.

Around the AFC West

February, 22, 2009
2/22/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Denver

Broncos' tight end Tony Scheffler battled E. coli.

My take: Scheffler appears to be fully recovered. But having one of quarterbacks Jay Cutler's favorite targets hospitalized couldn't have been settling for the team.

Oakland

Could the Saints be ready to jump on Gibril Wilson?

My take: Many teams took notice when Oakland purged the safety because of salary cap reasons. I still maintain fellow AFC West teams Denver and San Diego will be among the team that look at the former Oakland player who was ninth in the NFL last season with 129 tackles.

San Diego

Finding 3-4 defenders is becoming more difficult.

My take: This is an interesting subject. The 3-4 defense is becoming more popular. Denver and Kansas City may adopt it and close to half the league is going to use the scheme this season. Finding front seven players to fit the scheme is not always easy. So with more teams looking for 3-4 specialty players, the competition to find the best players will be intense in free agency and come draft time.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The deconstruction of Oakland Raiders' disastrous 2008 offseason is underway (again).

When the Raiders shocked the league at midseason by cutting starting cornerback DeAngelo Hall (who signed a $70-million plus deal after being acquired in a deal with Atlanta), there were reports that the purge of newly signed players would continue after the season.

It started Friday when safety Gibril Wilson and defensive end Kalimba Edwards were released. Wilson signed a $30-million plus deal last year and Edwards was signed to a more modest deal. Veteran receiver Ronald Curry was also cut Friday.

In addition to Hall, Wilson and Edwards, more 2008 signees could be washed away. The Raiders shelled out $25 million in salaries and bonuses last year. Now, after a great failure, the Raiders are making headlines by whacking players who were brought in.

Left tackle Kwame Harris, receiver Javon Walker (although he would be a cap hit if released) and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly (who signed a $50-million plus contract to stay in Oakland last year) all could conceivably be cut.

Oakland fans shouldn't let the team off the hook here. They should be furious.

Yes, the Raiders made good by re-signing in-house standouts Nnamdi Asomugha and Shane Lechler to long-term deals this week, the colossal mistakes made last year will continue to hurt the team. Those moves were made to end a five-year downturn. Not only did the signed players do little to help the team in 2008, but the Raiders finished 5-11 to become the first team in NFL history to lose at least 11 games in six straight seasons.

Now, the long recovery begins.

Raiders begin purge

February, 20, 2009
2/20/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The bill for Shane Lechler and Nnamdi Asomugha started to arrive in Oakland on Friday as the team cut three players.

Out are receiver Ronald Curry, defensive end Kalimba Edwards and safety Gibril Wilson. Wilson's release was the most surprising.

Wilson was signed to a lucrative deal by the Raiders last year as part of a wild spending spree and was productive last season. He had 129 tackles, which was the ninth most in the league.

Edwards was fairly productive in his first season in Oakland after signing as a free agent from Detroit. He had five sacks. Curry's release was not a surprise. He didn't make an impact on a receiving crew that was desperate for production.

This may be the just the beginning of the purge in Oakland. The Raiders were not in great salary cap shape before this week's blockbuster deals given to Lechler and Asomugha. Lechler signed a four-year deal that will pay him $16 million and make him the highest paid punter in the history of the NFL. Asomugha signed a three-year, $45 million-plus deal that makes him one of the richest players in the league.

These were two important signings for Oakland but the deals were costly for the team. Other players such as left tackle Kwame Harris and receiver Javon Walker could be next. However, cutting Walker would be a big cap hit for Oakland.

Wilson and Edwards could attract interest on the open market now that they are free agents. Wilson will likely attract more immediate interest. It wouldn't be a shock if Denver or San Diego shows interest in him.

Best in the AFC West, by the numbers

December, 25, 2008
12/25/08
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Here is a look at the AFC West leaders in a few categories after Week 16:

Passing yards

Jay Cutler, Denver Broncos
The numbers:
He has thrown for 4,210 yards.
What does it mean? Cutler has set a single-season passing yardage record for Denver but can he outshine rival Philip Rivers with the division on the line Sunday?

Rushing yards

LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers
The numbers:
He has run for 1,014 yards this season.
What does it mean?
Another season, another 1,000 yards but Tomlinson is having one of his toughest NFL seasons.

Receptions

Brandon Marshall, Broncos
The numbers:
Marshall has 98 receptions.
What does it mean?
He is closing in on 100 catches for the second time in three seasons despite missing one game due to league suspension.

Tackles

Kirk Morrison and Gibril Wilson, Oakland Raiders
The numbers:
Morrison, a linebacker, and Wilson, a safety, each have 122 tackles.
What does it mean?
Both of these players have been keys for an inconsistent defense.

Sacks

Shaun Phillips, Chargers
The numbers:
The Chargers' linebacker has 7.5 sacks.
What does it mean?
He hasn't been Shawne Merriman but Phillips has flourished under coordinator Ron Rivera.

Interceptions

Stephen Cooper, Chargers and Jarrad Page, Kansas City Chiefs
The numbers:
Cooper, a linebacker, and Page, a safety, each have four interceptions.
What does it mean?
Each player had an interception in Week 16.

Best in the AFC West, by the numbers

November, 19, 2008
11/19/08
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Here is a look at the AFC West leaders in a few categories after Week 11:

Passing yards

Rushing yards

  • LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers
  • The numbers: Tomlinson has 686 rushing yards.
  • What does it mean? Tomlinson isn't having a great season as he is averaging 3.8 yards per carry, but he's still the best in the West.

Receptions

  • Brandon Marshall, Denver Broncos
  • The numbers: Marshall has 63 catches.
  • What does it mean? Marshall is trying to make his first Pro Bowl and he has a chance of making it with his solid numbers.

Tackles

  • Kirk Morrison, Oakland Raiders
  • The numbers: Morrison has 87 tackles.
  • What does it mean? Morrison leads Oakland teammate Gibril Wilson by one tackle. Morrison has had a solid season and with Denver's D.J. Williams out the past two games with a knee injury, Morrison has become the division leader in tackles.

Sacks

  • Kalimba Edwards, Oakland Raiders.
  • The numbers: Edwards has five sacks.
  • What does it mean? Edwards has been stuck on this number for a while but in a weak sack division he is still the leader.

Interceptions

  • Jarrad Page, Kansas City Chiefs
  • The numbers: The Chiefs safety has three interceptions.
  • What does it mean? Page had an interception Sunday to separate himself from the pack.

AFC West injury report

November, 6, 2008
11/06/08
8:42
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Kansas City
  • Linebacker Derrick Johnson looks like he will not play on Sunday at San Diego unless he has an unexpected turnaround. He missed his second straight day of practice with a thigh injury that caused him to leave Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay.
  • Safety Jarrad Page (groin) and cornerback Patrick Surtain (quad) also did not practice Wednesday or Thursday.
  • Defensive and Turk McBride was limited Thursday with a shoulder injury.
  • Punter Dustin Colquitt and cornerback Brandon Flowers practiced fully on Thursday.

Oakland

  • Safety Michael Huff didn't practice because of a hip injury.
  • Running back Darren McFadden was limited in practice for the second straight day. He has missed the last two games with turf toe injuries on both feet. It looks like McFadden has a chance to play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
  • Quarterback JaMarcus Russell missed the end of practice Thursday with a knee injury. It's not believed to be serious.
  • Safety Gibril Wilson was back at practice Thursday. He has been dealing with a groin injury.

San Diego

  • Receiver Chris Chambers and cornerback Antonio Cromartie practiced on a limited basis Thursday after they both did not practice Wednesday. Chambers has been dealing with an ankle injury and Cromartie has a nagging hip injury.

AFC West injury report

November, 5, 2008
11/05/08
7:35
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Here is an injury update from Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego:

Kansas City
Linebacker Derrick Johnson did not practice with a thigh injury that knocked him out of the loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday. There appears to be a possibility Johnson does not play at San Diego on Sunday.

Safety Jarrad Page (groin) and cornerback Patrick Surtain (quad) didn't practice, either. The Chiefs signed two cornerbacks, Ricardo Colclough and David Macklin on Wednesday, so Surtain could be out a while. Punter Dustin Colquitt (groin) and cornerback Brandon Flowers (head) were practicing fully Wednesday.

Oakland
Rookie running back Darren McFadden was on the practice field. He was practicing on a limited basis but after missing the past two games, it is a good sign that McFadden is, at least, getting some work in. He has turf toe injuries on both feet. Defensive end Derrick Burgess did not practice. He has missed four straight games with a triceps injury. Safety Gibril Wilson has a groin injury and he did not practice, either.

San Diego
Receiver Chris Chambers (ankle) and Antonio Cromartie (hip) both did not practice. Both players have been hampered by these injuries for several weeks. It is not a good sign that they are still being hobbled, even after the bye. This will be a situation to monitor the rest of the week.

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