AFC West: Torry Holt

Longtime Oakland Raiders beat writer Steve Corkran suggests that the team will sign veteran receiver Torry Holt at some point this season.

Holt is now free after getting an injury settlement from New England. However, he is about to undergo knee surgery and won’t be ready for some time.

The suggestion that Oakland will sign Holt is based on the team’s need for a veteran presence at the position and the fact that Oakland’s young receivers are banged up. Both Chaz Schilens and Darrius Heyward-Bey have been rested a lot recently. Schilens has been dealing with a foot injury for a year and Heyward-Bey had a slight hamstring tweak this week.

Oakland has some nice talent at receiver but they are all very young players who are all fairly unproven. A veteran hand is needed. That’s why it would have made some sense for Oakland to look into Terrell Owens before he signed with Cincinnati or even Holt before he signed with the Patriots.

I’m not sure Holt is the answer at this point. He is a role player anyway, and now that he won’t be ready until after the season starts, I’m not sure it will be worth it.

But there are plenty of options. There will be some intriguing receivers who are cut in the next two weeks. I’m sure Oakland will then study the list of available talent. Illustration
  Pro Bowlers, Super Bowl winners and league MVPs headline our all-decade offense.

 Posted by's Bill Williamson

All-Decade Offense
QB: Tom Brady, New England
RB: LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego
FB: Lorenzo Neal, Cincinnati/S.D./Balt.
WR: Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis
WR: Torry Holt, St. Louis
TE: Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City
T: Walter Jones, Seattle
T: Jonathan Ogden, Baltimore
G: Alan Faneca, Pittsburgh/N.Y. Jets
G: Steve Hutchinson, Seattle/Minnesota
C: Olin Kreutz, Chicago

All-Decade Honors

Monday: Defense
Tuesday: Offense
Wednesday: Moments
Thursday: Team, coach, MVP | Rankings
Friday: Top players | Special teams

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To fully appreciate the star power of's all-decade offensive team, consider who did not make the cut: Peyton Manning. Randy Moss. Orlando Pace. Terrell Owens. Will Shields. Antonio Gates. Larry Allen.

They are Hall of Fame names and they didn't make the cut. The decade has been that good.

With training camps beginning next month for the final year of the decade, we thought we had sufficient evidence to determine our all-decade teams. tapped into the knowledge of coaches, players, scouts and other league observers to compile the squad. Criteria included statistics, impact on the player's team, Super Bowl wins/appearances and Pro Bowl berths.

It was inevitable that several superstars would be left off. Here are the 11 players who made it:

Quarterback, Tom Brady: The New England Patriots' quarterback won a battle against Manning, as he has done so many times on the field. Manning is one of the best quarterbacks to play the game and easily could have been named the quarterback of the decade.

But Brady's successes could not be denied.

Since replacing an injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001, Brady has been the face of the NFL and has nearly attained royalty status. He is a living legend.

Brady is the consummate winner. Manning may be more gifted and have more impressive numbers, but Brady has won three Super Bowls and is widely considered one of the most cunning players ever to suit up.

"You're talking about a guy that was a sixth-round draft pick," said former Jets and Chiefs coach Herm Edwards, now an ESPN analyst. "He wasn't a first-round pick. I love Manning. I think he's great for the league, an ambassador for the league, but he was the first player picked. Either one would be great, but [Brady] has won Super Bowls and was a sixth-round pick. Nobody really knew who he was."

Tailback, LaDainian Tomlinson: This was an easy call. Tomlinson has been one of the most dominant players in the l
eague this decade. Tomlinson, 30, may be nearing the finish line, but he was immediately a special player after entering the league in 2001.

Tomlinson won the NFL MVP award in 2006 when he set an NFL record with 28 rushing touchdowns and gained 2,323 yards from scrimmage. He has amassed at least 1,110 rushing yards in each of his eight seasons.

"I think my consistency, that means more than anything." Tomlinson said when asked what he is most proud of about his career to date. "As an athlete, you set out to be consistent over a period of time. When you're consistent, your teammates and coaches know what they're going to get from you each and every week."

Fullback, Lorenzo Neal: Neal, who recently signed with Oakland at the age of 38, was a runaway choice. The bulldozer is considered one of the best fullbacks to play in the NFL. Fullback is going the way of the dinosaur, but Neal has shown it can still be a relevant position.

Neal was Tomlinson's lead blocker for five years in San Diego. The Chargers clearly missed him last year after releasing him. In Baltimore, Neal gave the Ravens' run game an instant boost.

"Neal is a sixth offensive lineman," Seahawks coach Jim L. Mora said. "He relishes that job. He can't wait to go out and block you."

Wide receivers, Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt: This was one of the most hotly contested positions. With Harrison and Holt in, superstars Owens and Moss were out.
We couldn't go wrong with any of these choices, but Harrison and Holt were just too good to deny. Each made seven Pro Bowl teams (which was a league high this decade for receivers). Harrison won a Super Bowl ring this decade and Holt, who won a Super Bowl in the early days of 2000 after the 1999 season, played in a Super Bowl this decade.

Over six consecutive seasons (2000-05), Holt had at least 1,300 receiving yards. Harrison, who is not in the league right now after being cut by the Indianapolis Colts, had 95 touchdowns this decade.

"You cannot just look at the stats and get carried away with that stuff," ESPN analyst Keyshawn Johnson said. "I look at that list of names, and Holt and Harrison have to be at the top. Both of them won Super Bowls -- and they weren't in there getting cheap touchdowns like some guys. Too many guys in the media just look at those numbers. You can't put an all-decade team on the field without Holt and Harrison."

Tight end, Tony Gonzalez: With all due respect to the ultra-productive Gates, this was no contest. Gonzalez is the best tight end ever to play in the NFL. He owns every major receiving record by a tight end to prove it.

Gonzalez, who was traded from Kansas City to Atlanta in April, is still playing at a high level at age 33.

He has been to nine Pro Bowls this decade and has four 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his career.

"Tony has been dominant for such a long period of time," Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "He's just the best."

Tackles, Walter Jones and Jonathan Ogden: Jones, a 13-year standout in Seattle, and Ogden, who retired from the Baltimore Ravens in 2008, were standard-bearers at one of the most vital positions on the field. The two players were similar: They were massive, quiet and both were top-six picks in the draft.

Both players were named to eight Pro Bowls this decade and Jones is still playing at a high level. Ogden won a Super Bowl and Jones played in a Super Bowl this decade. Former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren has said Jones was the greatest offensive player he ever coached. Holmgren coached Brett Favre and he was an assistant on San Francisco 49ers staffs that featured Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Steve Young. Pace was great, but he couldn't quite match what Jones and Ogden accomplished this decade.

"It's a great honor," Jones said. "You look back at your career, and you come in, just hoping not to get cut as a rookie. But I've listened to my coaches and still try to get better every year."

Guards, Alan Faneca and Steve Hutchinson: This was one of the toughest positions to figure. Shields and Allen are two future Hall of Famers, but Faneca and Hutchinson have enjoyed longer careers in this decade.

In the end, it was too difficult to deny those two players. Faneca, who is now with the New York Jets, has made eight Pro Bowls this decade and won a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hutchinson, now with the Minnesota Vikings, has been named to seven Pro Bowls and he went to a Super Bowl with the Seahawks.

"Those guys set the tone," Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith said of Faneca and Hutchinson.

Added Jones, who played with Hutchinson in Seattle for five years: "There has been great guard play, but I have to say Hutchinson wins a spot. He has been dominant for two teams. He was a great guy to play with."


Center, Olin Kreutz: This was a three-way toss-up between Kreutz, Kevin Mawae and Matt Birk. All three players have been to six Pro Bowls.

The tiebreakers: Kreutz appeared in a Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears and more league personnel named him than Mawae or Birk.

"You look at a guy like Kreutz and you really appreciate his consistency," San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said. "He is an all-decade-type player."

Tim Hasselbeck and Michael Smith break down the all-decade offense.

AFC West mailbag

April, 8, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Louie from Oakland: hey Bill....if you feel that signing Burress would be a step backward, who do you see would be the best fit for Oakland out of the list of available WR's out in the market right now? Including WR's like Ocho Cinco who are possibly available via trade.... Thanks

BW: I think the best guy who would fit is Arizona's Anquan Boldin. He'd cost a lot in a trade but he'd be worth it. He'd answer Oakland's needs at the position. Also, I like Torry Holt as a third-round option. He'd move the chains in Oakland.

Pat from Dallas: Bill, Based on the trade value chart, it seems to me that it wouldn't take that much for the Broncos to trade up and ensure they get Mark Sanchez. And it shouldn't take sacrificing the chance at a good defensive player in the first round to do it - contrary to what many pundits are saying. Here are just a couple trade possibilities: #12 (1200 points) + Denver's second rounder (#48 - 420 points) + Chicago's third rounder (#84 - 170) = 1,890 points for #4 (Seattle - 1,800). #12 (1,200) + Denver's third rounder (#79 - 195) + Chicago's third rounder (#84 - 170) + Seattle's fifth rounder (#140 - 36) = 1,601 for #6 (Cincinnati - 1,600). These seem like no-brainers. (Seattle and/or Cincinnati get mulitple picks to start rebuilding, Denver guarantees its chance at a QB of the future and an impact defensive player.) So, does Denver like Sanchez enough to make this happen, and what do you think are the chances? Thanks, Pat

BW: I'd only support that move if it was a short trade up. You don't want burn a big chip in the Jay Cutler trade on a quarterback. It would neutralize Denver's value garnered from the trade. If Sanchez is there at No. 12, I think it would be a smart move.

Patrick from Saint George, UT: The broncos would be stupid to combine the #12 and #18 pick to grab Mark Sanchez. Basically you gave up the ability to help the defense by trading Cutler because now your first round pick is gone to fix a position that didn't need fixing before the fiasco and there is no guarantee Sanchez will be the fix either. The best bet for the Broncos is to go after Brady Quinn with the #18 pick. At that point you traded Cutler for Orton and Brady, an upgrade on your 5th round pick to a 3rd round pick and a first round pick next year. That is a vastly better deal than taking Sanchez because you can still use the #12 pick to help your defense. No one has mentioned this but why not see if the Browns would trade Quinn for Tony Scheffler and a 2nd or 3rd round pick. They traded away Kellen Winslow so a nice TE like Tony Scheffler might be a desirable scenario for them and then Denver still gets Quinn and gets to keep that #18 pick to help the defense and the Browns get a good TE and a 2nd round pick.

BW: I agree; that can't be done. It would be silly. I don't think you have to worry about it. I think Denver could move up, but it would be for a defensive player such as B.J. Raji or Aaron Curry. If Denver could get Quinn for the No. 18 pick, it would be a decent trade. Denver would still have the other picks in the draft and Kyle Orton could be the backup. The key for Denver is to get as much value out of the Cutler trade as possible.

Paul from Escondido: I'm starting to really like Maualuga. Is it just me, or is he a top 5 player that, through a variety of happenings, just might fall to the Bolts at 16? And if so, how bad would it be to pass on him?

BW: I think he could be the guy for the Chargers. I really like Rey Maualuga. He's got a nose for the game and he plays hard every down. He may not be great in coverage, but he's a strong two-down player who would be a nice fit with the Chargers. The USC middle linebacker has visited with the team so perhaps he will end up in San Diego.

Scouts Inc.'s Jeremy Green gets the latest on Jay Cutler and the Broncos from Len Pasquarelli and Bill Williamson. Plus, Paul Kuharsky talks about the lack of leadership with the Jaguars and the pursuit of Torry Holt.

AFC West mailbag

March, 29, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Weekend mail call:

Ryan from NJ: Hey BW, a lot of mock drafts have Tyson Jackson going to Denver. I dont mind the pick, but I have a question about him. In this year's draft, I hear a lot of DE's can stand up or have a hand in the ground (ie:Orakpo, Maybin), but i havent heard that about Jackson. My question: can he do both? I see he's almost 300, but in his tapes I see he is pretty quick.

Bill Williamson: I think he can play both standing up and with his hands on the ground. Jackson fits in the 3-4 defense. Some teams don't really like him. There is a high rate of failure for defensive ends, so it is tricky. Two years ago, Denver used the No. 17 overall pick on Jarvis Moss, who has been a huge failure so far. Denver can't afford any more failures on defense.

Jason from ATX: Bill,Love the blog,read it everyday. Lifelong Broncos and Longhorns fan. Can the Broncos possibly get my main man Brian Orakpo. I think he can play in the 3-4 and do some real damage under the McDaniels reign in Denver. Keep writin it and we'll keep readin it!

BW: He'd fit well in Denver, but I doubt Orakpo will be available when the Broncos pick. If he is, I'd think he'd be the Broncos' choice.

Kit from Warren: Do you think Oakland has a chance sign either Orlando Pace or Torry Holt?

BW: I doubt Pace will be pursued since Oakland already signed Khalif Barnes and it will likely draft a tackle in the early rounds. Holt could be a possibility. He has a small market so far, so you never know if Oakland will come in and sign him. He'd help.

Robert from Colorado Springs: What is the probability that KC trades Tony G? What is his value? Also, any news on the LJ front? Will he be traded prior to or during the draft or will KC simply release him? If traded what would be his value?

BW: Right now, it looks like the team will keep Tony Gonzalez. We'll see on Larry Johnson. I think the Chiefs will end up trading him before or during the draft.

Rich from Long Island, NY: Bill, I read your blog about how Tom Cable looks promising as the Raiders new coach. The Raiders are perennially among the most penalized and undisciplined teams in the NFL. Unless Coach Cable plans to address the problem the Raiders are destined to repeat their recent history.

BW: That is very true. He is a pretty hard-nosed guy but Cable does have to instill discipline in this bunch. He had trouble early in his interim tenure last year but like everything in Oakland, the discipline factor improved toward the end of the season.

AFC West mailbag

March, 21, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

James from Los Angeles: hey bill, i read your blogs everyday. Do you think the Raiders will pick up either Orlando Pace, Roy Williams, Torry Holt, or MArvin HArrison?

BW: Thanks, James. I'd be surprised if Pace would come to Oakland now that Khalif Barnes has been signed. Williams is from Oakland, but he has only visited Cincinnati and both Harrison and Holt would help the Raiders. But I think those two players may consider signing with a contender first.

unklbrad from Kansas City: Not sure if the first one sent. As posted on the blog: Matt Cassel still doesn't have a number assigned, but Vrabel does. Isn't that a sign that Cassel may never don a Chiefs uni?

BW: I think it's just a housekeeping issue right now. Cassel wore No. 16 with the Patriots. Of course, that was Len Dawson's number in Kansas City and it has been retired. I wouldn't read too much into the number situation at this point.

Danny: will the chargers lock up any of their big name vetrans to extentions? Rivers, Merriman, McNiel, V.Jackson, Gates?

BW: I think they would like to get Rivers and Gates locked up this offseason. Merriman and McNeill will have to show they can come back from injuries before a deal is signed.

JD from SAN JOSE: Bill, I gotta tell ya. While Crabtree looks good, he looks over hyped. In my opinion he doesn't have the same wow factor that Williams, Johnson & Fitzgerald had. I think Oak should do the Phi trade and grab a wr like Nicks or Bay. But we all know Al doesn't trade down ;) As always, thanks for the great coverage!

BW: Thanks, JD. You know, I really like Crabtree. I keep thinking back to that play against Texas where he won the game. I think he is a man. I really think he can be special.

Joe from Arlington Heights,Il: Do you think the Chicago Bears would trade for Jay Culter? Why or Why not?

BW: First, Denver has to decide to trade him. But if that happens, I can see Chicago becoming a player. The Bears have a need and I think it could be a good fit. If Denver does start taking phone calls on Cutler, it will be a seller's market so the Bears would have to offer quite a bit to get the deal done.

AFC West news and notes

March, 13, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

• The Raiders' spat to with former coach Lane Kiffin has gone to the next level. The grievance has been in the works virtually since Oakland fired Kiffin on Sept. 30, 2008.

The Raiders maintain Kiffin was fired for cause and Kiffin is seeking the approximate two months of pay he was due after being fired and in between being hired as the University of Tennessee's coach. This one will take some time to play out, but expect the dirt to continue to fly.

• The Kansas City Star suggests the Chiefs keep Torry Holt in Missouri and sign the venerable receiver who was just cut by St. Louis. I believe Holt, like Marvin Harrison, would fit in with every AFC West team for various reasons.

The Sporting News reports the Broncos will meet with Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins. It is interesting because Denver has more pressing needs with the No. 12 pick. But many teams meet with many players so don't read too much into this private meeting between the two parties.

• Denver added yet another free agent in the form of guard Scott Young. He'll likely compete for a backup job.