AFC West: Lofa Tatupu

AFC West notes

August, 3, 2011
It is being reported that the Giants have dropped the asking price from a first-round pick to a second-round pick for defensive end Osi Umenyiora. The Broncos and Chargers are both reportedly interested in him. Now that the price has dropped, something could move quickly.
NAPA, Calif. -- Random notes from the Raiders’ training camp:

Sunday, the feeling around the team was the re-signing of Zach Miller was almost a certainty. Oakland coach Hue Jackson indicated that Miller would soon be a Raider. Then, Monday rolled around and the Pro Bowl tight end was getting the full-court press in Seattle during a visit.





The word in Seattle is the Seahawks are trying hard to get a deal done

Monday, Jackson said he was hopeful it would work out with Miller. But he seemed less than sure. I talked to several Oakland players about Miller on Monday evening and his status is certainly on the minds of the team. There's no doubt his Oakland teammates want him back.

The Raiders opened some space for Miller by re-signing linebacker Kamerion Wimbley to a five-year, $48 million deal. He was previously the Raiders’ franchised player for 2011. Jackson was elated to tie up Wimbley for the long term. Because he signed a new deal, Wimbley now can’t practice until Thursday as part of the new CBA.

“Kamerion Wimbley, new Raider, free agency,” Jackson said. “It’s one of our signings. Write that down everybody. No, that’s what it is. … Again, it’s just our organization continuing to lock up a good young talent.”

From listening to Jackson, I wouldn’t be shocked if receiver Jacoby Ford didn’t play until the season opener, Sept. 12 at Denver. Jackson said he has no doubt Ford will be back as he side-stepped a question about whether or not Ford’s broken hand will require surgery. If Ford needs more than a couple of weeks, it may behoove the team to keep him out of the preseason.

Jackson said the Raiders were sticking to their mantra of checking out good players by visiting with former Seattle middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu. He indicated Tatupu would play an outside linebacker position (likely weakside) if he was signed. Jackson made it clear second-year middle linebacker Rolando McClain is not moving. Tatupu, who many scouts believe is near the end of his career, is visiting Washington.

Raiders open some cap space

August, 1, 2011
NAPA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders opened some cap room and secured one of their better defenders by giving Kamerion Wimbley a new five-year deal, his agent Joe Linta said.



The deal is five years for $48 million. He has a roster bonus due in March of 2012. He could earn up to $29 million in bonuses.

Wimbley was the franchise player for Oakland after the Raiders were essentially forced to make that move because of a little known loop hole in his contract that Oakland assumed from Cleveland. The Raiders traded a third-round pick for Wimbley in March of 2010.

He had a solid season for the Raiders in 2010, registering nine sacks.

The big deal now gives the Raiders some cap relief for 2011. They will need it. They will likely be in a bidding war for tight end Zach Miller. He is visiting the Seahawks on Monday and they want to sign him.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s John Clayton reported Oakland has re-signed backup linebacker Sam Williams.

Lofa Tatupu is set to visit the Redskins after visiting the Raiders.
The Oakland Raiders’ visit with Lofa Tatupu is a curious one. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the visit Monday.

He is a middle linebacker. The Raiders drafted middle linebacker Rolando McClain last year with the No. 8 pick. Oakland coach Hue Jackson has been lauding McClain all camp. Tatupu was cut by Seattle during the weekend.

The only way this could work is if one of the players were to move to an outside linebacker position, but that is risky unless Tatupu was fine with being a backup in Oakland. Perhaps the Raiders are toying with the idea of playing in more 3-4 situations. That would be surprising at this point.

Tatupu’s play has dwindled in recent seasons because he has been wearing down physically. He is a good leader, though, and was known as a coach on the field in Seattle. So, there could be some value there as long as he doesn’t cost much.
The Brian Cushing saga led the NFC West blog to respond to a reader’s question regarding the 2005 defensive rookie of the year voting.

That’s where the AFC West comes in.

San Diego linebacker Shawne Merriman won the award that year. During the next year, Merriman was suspended four games for using a banned substance.

Thus, should there be a re-vote to give 2005 runner-up Lofa Tatupu a chance to win the award? With all due respect to the Seattle linebacker, no way.

That award was Merriman’s. There is a gigantic difference between Merriman’s situation and Cushing’s. Merriman tested positive well into his second season. Cushing tested positive during his rookie season. Unless proven otherwise, Merriman’s accomplishments of his rookie season have to be considered unsullied. It would be purely speculative to say Merriman used a banned substance the year before he was caught.

That’s why there is little chance The Associated Press will dig back five years to re-open the Merriman case. The AP didn’t wait long to take another look at Cushing’s case. It would have done the same to Merriman if it were relevant.