NFL Nation: Ronald Bartell

Source: Raiders moving on from Bartell

December, 10, 2012
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With the season all but lost, the Oakland Raiders are shedding disappointing players.

According to an NFL source close to the situation, starting cornerback Ronald Bartell has been told by the Raiders he will be released Monday. Bartell signed a one-year deal with Oakland with hopes he would return to his form prior to a neck injury that kept him out of 15 games with St. Louis last season.

He suffered a shoulder injury in Week 1 and he was put on injured reserve with the designation to return. He came back last month. Bartell started all six of the games he has played in this season, including a loss to Denver on Thursday night. Bartell was benched during a Week 13 loss to Cleveland.

Cornerback is one of the Raiders’ thinnest areas, so it is somewhat surprising the team is planning to get rid of Bartell with three games to go. Phillip Adams’ playing time has increased in recent weeks.

When released, Bartell, 30, will be subject to waivers. If not claimed, he will be a free agent. I could see a playoff contender looking for cornerback depth showing some interest in Bartell. Cornerback help is always a premium.

Report: Raiders to cut Pat Lee

November, 10, 2012
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Starters rarely get cut in the NFL during the season.


It appears is going to happen twice in five days in the AFC West. At the same position.

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting the Raiders will cut cornerback Pat Lee on Saturday. The move would be made to make room for Ron Bartell, who is about to be activated from the injured reserve.

Monday, Kansas City cut starting cornerback Stanford Routt. The Lee move, while surprising, it isn’t as stunning as the Routt cut. Routt was a big-money player.

Lee was a starter because of injuries. He was a decent starter for the Raiders. Lee was brought to Oakland from Green Bay by former Packers’ executive and first-year general manager Reggie McKenzie.

The Raiders are thin at cornerback. So the move to cut a player who started the past seven games is a bit strange. You’d think he’d be valuable as a reserve and as injury insurance. According to this report, it appears the Raiders think otherwise.
NAPA, Calif. -- One of the biggest curiosities in the NFL this summer is what is occurring in Wine Country. Graced with the prettiest training camp setting in the league, the Oakland Raiders are changing in front of our very eyes.

On the same practice field where the late Al Davis used to famously stalk practice from a nearby golf cart, the Raiders are a drastically different franchise as they enter their first full season since Davis died last October at the age of 82.

The team is now run by first-time general manager Reggie McKenzie, a respected former Green Bay executive and former Raiders linebacker. He was handpicked by several of Davis’ closest confidantes. McKenzie chose Dennis Allen, who at 39 is the NFL’s youngest coach, to take over the team.

For a franchise that was closely ruled by Davis until his death, the Raiders are hoping a dose of NFL modern structure will pay dividends. Even though it has been 8-8 in the past two seasons, Oakland hasn’t had a winning record in 10 years and it is tied for the second-longest playoff drought in the league.

Perhaps McKenzie and Allen are the winning combination for Oakland.

“I think everybody is interested to see what happens,” said Oakland safety Michael Huff, who has been with the Raiders since 2006. “I’ve only known one way. To have this new structure is new to me.”

THREE HOT ISSUES

1. Keep McFadden healthy: The Raiders’ best player is running back Darren McFadden. He has to stay healthy, but that hasn’t been easy for the fifth-year player. He has missed at last three games in each of his four NFL seasons. He missed the final nine games of last season with a serious foot injury. If McFadden can stay healthy, the Oakland offense will be dangerous and it will help quarterback Carson Palmer make a difference in his first full season in Oakland. If McFadden can’t stay healthy, the Raiders could be in trouble. They are not deep behind him and lose a major dimension with McFadden sidelined. McFadden has looked good so far, but the key is that he looks healthy.

2. Improve on defense: Allen is the first defensive-minded head coach of the Raiders since John Madden, who was hired in 1969. There is a reason McKenzie went with a defensive coach: the Raiders need the most help on that side of the ball. Oakland has been sloppy and has allowed too many big plays on defense. Allen helped change the defensive culture in Denver last year during his one season as the defensive coordinator there. His quest to improve Oakland’s defense begins now.

[+] EnlargeDarren McFadden
AP Photo/Derek GeeA healthy Darren McFadden is crucial for Oakland's success.
3. Cut down on penalties: The Raiders set NFL records for penalties and penalty yardage last season. It has long been a problem in Oakland. Now, it is up to Allen to get it figured out. Playing disciplined, correct ball is a focus of every camp. It has to be drilled into this team on a daily basis. To his credit, former coach Hue Jackson tried to fix penalties on a weekly basis last year and it didn’t work. It's now one of Allen’s greatest challenges. Allen stresses the importance of discipline every day and he will need to change this self-destructive trend.

REASON FOR OPTIMISM

This roster has a lot of talent on it. The Raiders were on the edge of the playoffs last year, and there are lot players who think they are capable of taking the next step. Palmer has talked playoffs, and McKenzie says he thinks his team is headed in that direction.

The offense has the capability to score a lot of points, and the defense is loaded up front. It’s not like this team is going to be horribly overmatched on a weekly basis. You can watch training camp and you see good players on the field.

REASON FOR PESSIMISM

This team is pretty thin at a lot of places because of the loss of several players through free agency, salary dumps and small draft classes the past two years. Again, there is talent assembled in this camp, but there are holes on this team. Positions such as running back, tight end, offensive line, linebacker and the secondary cannot afford too many injuries.

This camp is about keeping the top players healthy and hoping it all comes together. If injuries occur, Oakland will have to get creative to stay competitive.

OBSERVATION DECK

  • The offense looks crisp. The pace of practice has been fast as the team adjusts to playing in the West Coast offense under coordinator Greg Knapp. The unit does not look behind.
  • Carson Palmer
    Harry How/Getty ImagesCarson Palmer threw for 2,753 yards in 10 games with the Raiders last season.
    Palmer throws a pretty deep ball. With the Raiders’ speed at receiver, they should parlay that combination into a lot of fast scores this season.
  • There is a lot of talent at receiver. I can see this team using five receivers in a game. There will be a lot of options.
  • Defensive lineman Tommy Kelly looks to be in good shape. He is one of the more underrated defensive linemen in the league.
  • Defensive linemen Matt Shaughnessy is looking good after missing much of last season with a shoulder injury. He is known as a stronger pass-rusher, but he can also stop the run. He is aiming for a big year.
  • I don’t anticipate a big adjustment period for second-year player Stefen Wisniewski as he moves from guard to center. He has played center before and he originally projected as an NFL center. He is a smart player who seems comfortable at the position.
  • Don’t expect too much from quarterback Terrelle Pryor right away. He is a work in progress and he will be up and down in camp. I think Matt Leinart has a pretty strong hold on the No. 2 job as of now.
  • Second-year cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke has a chance to make a push for a starting job. He opened camp as a starter with Ronald Bartell out with a hamstring injury. I could see Van Dyke pushing Bartell or Shawntae Spencer at some point.
  • The team is impressed with rookie linebackers Miles Burris and Nathan Stupar. Both players are instinctive and professional. I wouldn’t be surprised if Burris earns major playing time.
  • The team is high on third-round guard Tony Bergstrom. The game doesn’t look too big for him, and he is a mature player.
  • New defensive coordinator Jason Tarver has a lot of energy. Watching him operate with his lively personality and blond hair invokes memories of a young Jon Gruden wearing the Silver and Black. Like Gruden, the intelligent Tarver is a young coach to watch.
  • I think we will see tight ends Brandon Myers, David Ausberry and Richard Gordon all get ample playing time in the preseason. I think that can continue into the regular season if each player carves their own niche.
  • Safety Mike Mitchell is the early leader in the clubhouse to replace Rock Cartwright, now in San Francisco, as the punt protector.
  • Receivers Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford will get most of the camp looks at punt returner for now.
  • Undrafted rookie receiver Rod Streater has taken off where he left off in the OTAs. He has been an early camp star.
  • I could see a scenario in which the Raiders keep fullback Owen Schmitt in addition to Marcel Reece. The tough Schmitt and the versatile Reece offer different things to the offense.

Oakland camp notes

July, 31, 2012
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NAPA, Calif. -- Some impressions from Day 2 of the Raiders’ training camp:

A couple players were nicked up on a hot day. Backup running back Mike Goodson hurt his hamstring and tight end Richard Gordon suffered a hip flexor. Both are expected to be key role players and are day-to-day. There weren’t any indications that the injuries are serious, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Goodson is given a few days to heal since hamstrings can be tricky.

The Raiders were somewhat sloppy Tuesday. There were same dropped passes and there were some mental lapses. Coach Dennis Allen brought the team in at one point to regroup. Quarterback Carson Palmer said a sloppy second of camp is predictable since opening days are so emotionally charged. Allen thought the team was dealing with some soreness that affected the workout. Again, this is all normal early-camp happenings.

Linebacker Aaron Curry (knee), punter Shane Lechler (knee), cornerback Ronald Bartell (hamstring) and defensive tackle Travis Ivey (conditioning) all remained out Tuesday. Asked about Lechler, Allen said he did not think the injury was serious.

Some of the injury replacements looked good for the second day. Second-year cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke was good again in Bartell’s absence and rookie Miles Burris made some plays in Curry’s place.

Rookie punter Marquette King has quite the powerful leg. He boomed some punts and had excellent hang time. If he plays in the preseason some in place of Lechler, he may attract interest around the league. He has no chance to overtake Lechler, but he seems to have a NFL leg.

The defense seemed to make more big plays than the offense. Safety Mike Mitchell had a nice interception for a touchdown return on a poor pass from Palmer.
NAPA, Calif. -- A player who has a great chance to ascend in the Oakland Raiders’ training camp is cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke.

He has a chance to show he belongs in the starting mix.

Van Dyke, a third-round pick in 2011, took an important step in establishing himself Monday when he was working with the first-team defense with projected starter Ronald Bartell out with a hamstring injury. Bartell should be back at some point, but this will give Van Dyke time to impress the new coaching staff.

So far, so good.

New Oakland coach Dennis Allen lauded Van Dyke for his effort Monday. If he continues to make strides, I think Van Dyke could push Bartell or, more likely, Shawntae Spencer, in the coming weeks.

Thoughts from Oakland's camp

July, 30, 2012
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NAPA, Calif. -- Some thoughts on the Oakland Raiders’ first day of training camp:

The news of the day was that the Raiders had to put starting linebacker Aaron Curry on the physically unable to perform list with a knee issue that has been bothering him for awhile. Curry can be taken off the PUP list when he passes a physical. Oakland coach Dennis Allen said Curry is day-today. Curry was in uniform, so it is an indication that he might not be far from returning.

Other key players not practicing Monday were punter Shane Lechler (knee) and cornerback Ron Bartell (hamstring). Allen said both are day-to-day.

The Raiders practiced with a terrific Day 1 tempo, and it looked like they got a lot accomplished. Allen and several players said the practice was pretty clean for a first camp practice.

Fourth-round pick Miles Burris took Curry’s place with the first team. Burris has a chance to contribute right away. The fact that he is getting first-team repetitions so early in camp should only expedite his learning curve.

Receiver Jacoby Ford went down early in camp, giving the team a scare, but he finished the practice in good shape.

Former Oakland star quarterback Rich Gannon gave the team a recent pep talk.

Defensive tackle Travis Ivey, who is 341 pounds, didn’t not pass the team’s conditioning test. He must do so before practicing. Allen said the team’s overall conditioning level is solid, but he wants to see it improve as the season approaches.

Please check back often Monday as I will have plenty of thoughts and news and notes from Day 1 of Oakland’s camp.

By the numbers: Draft needs

April, 3, 2012
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The tremendous folks at ESPN Stats & Information have passed along some key statistics for each NFL team as we prepare for the draft. Let’s review some of the findings:

Denver:

Here is one of the reasons why the Broncos’ greatest need is at defensive tackle. Denver had just four sacks from its interior defensive line, all from Ryan McBean, a free agent who is fighting a six-game NFL suspension. Of the 4-3 defenses in the NFL, only Seattle had fewer sacks from the defensive tackle position. It is a good thing the Broncos have a dynamic pass-rushing presence from Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.

Kansas City:

Here is a reason why the Chiefs should consider drafting Stanford’s David DeCastro and playing him at right guard. The Chiefs ran well to the left last season, but struggled running on the right side. They addressed the issue by signing right tackle Eric Winston, considered one of the best at his position. Adding DeCastro, considered one of the premier guard prospects in the past several years, would further help. Kansas City ranked seventh in the NFL running to the left in 2011, but was ranked 32nd up the middle and 31st to the right side.

Oakland:

Oakland cornerbacks had 27 pass disruptions or interceptions last season, which was tied for 21st in the NFL. Fifteen of those big plays came from Stanford Routt, who is now in Kansas City after being a salary-cap dump in Oakland. More cornerback talent may be necessary even though the Raiders signed projected starters Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer to one-year deals.

San Diego:

The Chargers rushed four or fewer defenders on 77.5 percent of opposing quarterback drop backs last season. It was the fifth highest in the NFL. However, only Antwan Barnes had success, with nine sacks. The Chargers desperately need another impact pass-rusher.

Have the Raiders fallen behind?

March, 30, 2012
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Reggie McKenzie, Dennis AllenAP Photo/Paul SakumaOakland's salary-cap woes have Reggie McKenzie, left, and Dennis Allen in a tough spot.

The Oakland Raiders are one of the most intriguing franchises in the NFL these days. How will the post-Al Davis Raiders evolve?

After Al Davis' death in October, the much-less-involved Mark Davis turned his father’s beloved franchise over to Reggie McKenzie, a respected personnel man from Green Bay, who is embarking on his first journey as a general manager. McKenzie has entrusted former Denver defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, who at 39 is the youngest coach in the league, to be the next coach of a team that finished 8-8 last season and barely out of the playoffs.

The first focus for McKenzie has been clearing the Raiders’ roster of bloated contracts given to players as the Raiders desperately, and unsuccessfully, chased championships in Davis’ final years.

It has been a necessary exercise as Oakland begins the process of getting out of salary-cap jail. But Oakland has lost more talent than it has brought in the past month.

The question begs to be asked: Has Oakland fallen behind the rest of the AFC West for the 2012 season? It depends on whom you ask, of course. Asked this week if his team will be stronger or weaker in 2012, McKenzie, without explanation, said this: “Honestly, I envision it being stronger.”

However, many folks around the league wonder how.

“I think they have fallen behind,” Gary Horton of Scouts Inc. said. “They are in a tough salary-cap position and they are paying for it now. I just don’t see the improvement.”

Added Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc.: “I do think they have slipped.” Williamson, in an Insider piece, gave the Raiders one of the worst free-agent grades in the AFC.

It’s difficult to look at the list of players Oakland has added and lost and not come to the same conclusion. Even given the need for salary-cap repair, a loss of talent mustn’t be brushed aside.

Some of the key players who were either cut or departed Oakland as free agents: linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, running back Michael Bush, quarterback Jason Campbell, cornerback Stanford Routt, tight end Kevin Boss, defensive tackle John Henderson, running back Rock Cartwright, receiver Chaz Schilens, defensive end Trevor Scott and cornerback Chris Johnson.

The projected starters who have been brought in: guard Mike Brisiel and cornerbacks Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer.

“You look who has come and who has gone, and it’s scary,” Horton said. “I like Mike Brisiel. He will help. But the two cornerbacks are just guys. They are not starters for a good team. The defense needs improvement and I don’t see it. All I see is the loss of talent. Where is the coverage coming from? Where is the pass-rush coming from?”

In addition to not having much cap room, the Raiders have a small draft class. They have five picks and their first pick is No. 95, at the end of the third round. McKenzie has said the Raiders need a starting outside linebacker. He might not know who that player is for some time.

Compounding the concern in Oakland is the fact that the rest of the AFC West has been aggressive this offseason.

[+] EnlargeDarren McFadden
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesDarren McFadden is an elite running back when healthy -- but the Raiders are an injury or two away, at many positions, from serious trouble.
Denver added the big prize of the NFL offseason --quarterback Peyton Manning. Kansas City added several players, including Routt and Boss after they were jettisoned in Oakland. The Chargers lost star receiver Vincent Jackson and key backup running back Mike Tolbert, but added several pieces and have been lauded by scouts around the league for using their resources properly and adding to their overall talent level. Speaking this week solely about his own team, Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli said he felt the need to improve his roster because of the improvement around him in the division.

Meanwhile, McKenzie and Allen are seemingly beginning their tenure in Oakland by taking a step back. Asked about the loss of talent while at the NFL owners meetings this week, Allen took a realistic approach.

“You know what, we knew what the situation was when we were going into it,” Allen said. “We knew it was going to be a tough situation. I think Reggie’s done a great job of managing everything as we’ve gone through this. You go through it every year. Every year, you have good players that you lose. And you’ve got to find a way to regroup and replace those guys and that’s what we’re trying to get done.”

The problem is that Oakland has more holes than it did at the end of last season. In the past couple of seasons, the Raiders were intriguing because they were both young and didn’t have many glaring needs. All they needed was their young talent to continue to improve. Now, though, Oakland has holes at tight end and at linebacker and depth issues at all layers of the defense, running back, the offensive line and at quarterback.

“What if this team gets hurt a lot?” Horton asked. “There is no depth in this team.”

Still, not all is lost in Oakland. Running back Darren McFadden is an elite runner when healthy, the defensive line is an upper-echelon unit, the interior offensive line is strong, the special teams are top-notch, the receiver crew is potentially dynamic and the team believes quarterback Carson Palmer will benefit from a full offseason in the program.

The Raiders are hopeful that their talent can withstand this necessary offseason of cap repair. In a couple of years, if McKenzie continues to be financially prudent, the Raiders should be out of cap jail.

“This team wasn’t far away when I got here,” Allen said at the owners meetings. “We’re excited about trying to build on that and develop this team into a playoff-caliber team. Obviously, we took a couple hits because of the cap situation, but we’re looking forward to trying to develop the team, and the players.”

The only question: Has the rest of the AFC West left the Raiders behind in the immediate future?

AFC West free-agency assessment

March, 29, 2012
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AFC Assessments: East | West | North | South NFC: East | West | North | South

Denver Broncos

Key additions: QB Peyton Manning, CB Tracy Porter, TE Joel Dreessen, TE Jacob Tamme, S Mike Adams, QB Caleb Hanie, WR Andre Caldwell.

Key losses: DT Brodrick Bunkley, WR, Eddie Royal, TE Daniel Fells, QB Tim Tebow, QB Brady Quinn, TE Dante Rosario.

Did they get better? The Broncos added Manning and that move changes the course of the entire division. Denver is instantly the favorite to win the AFC West again because of this addition. Yes, there are risks as the 36-year-old Manning missed the entire 2011 season with a neck injury that required several surgeries. Denver is convinced Manning is fully recovered and has been cleared to play.

If the 2012 Manning is anything like the Manning we last saw, Denver will be in good shape and the offense will be dangerous. The key is on defense. It has improved greatly and the Porter and Adams additions should help, even while losing Bunkley will hurt. Overall, this team made huge strides in the offseason.

What’s next: Denver’s biggest need areas are at defensive tackle (the Broncos may need two), running back, safety, receiver and linebacker. However, much of that need is for depth purposes.

Denver’s only true glaring hole is at defensive tackle. Expect the Broncos to use their No. 25 pick on the position. I wouldn’t be surprised if the team’s second-round pick is used on a running back unless the Broncos like one of the remaining veterans on the market.

Kansas City Chiefs

Key additions: CB Stanford Routt, RT Eric Winston, RB Peyton Hillis, TE Kevin Boss, QB Brady Quinn.

Key losses: CB Brandon Carr, QB Kyle Orton, FB Le'Ron McClain, LB Demorrio Williams.

Did they get better? Had it not been for the Manning blockbuster, everybody would be taking about what the Chiefs did. I think the Chiefs’ work in free agency was among the best five in the NFL.

Instead of giving quarterback Matt Cassel serious competition, the Chiefs further committed to him by giving him some strong pieces on offense. Hillis will team with Jamaal Charles to make a dangerous running tandem. Winston is one of the league’s better right tackles and Boss and Tony Moeaki will give opposing defenses fits in double tight end sets. This will be a varied offense that will have many weapons. The Chiefs are solid on defense and Routt is a veteran who is comparable to Carr, but more experienced and is less expensive.

What’s next: The Chiefs could use a nose tackle, help at inside linebacker, secondary depth and offensive line depth. They will get a good player with the 11th pick and I think they will try to solidify the middle of the defensive line with someone like Memphis’ Dontari Poe. If the Chiefs can add an impact defender with that pick, it will complete an outstanding offseason.

Oakland Raiders

Key additions: G Mike Brisiel, CB Ron Bartell, CB Shawntae Spencer, CB Pat Lee.

Key losses: LB Kamerion Wimbley, RB Michael Bush, QB Jason Campbell, CB Stanford Routt, TE Kevin Boss, DT John Henderson, RB Rock Cartwright, WR Chaz Schilens, DE Trevor Scott, CB Chris Johnson.

Did they get better? It’s difficult to argue this team improved. Just look at all the losses. It’s a pure fact of numbers, Oakland lost much more than it brought in. This team has more questions than it did at the end of last season and it has more holes. With limited cap space and the fact Oakland doesn’t pick in the draft until No. 95, the Raiders will have a difficult time adding any more impact players. Depth can be an issue.

I understand why this has happened. The new Oakland regime had to get things in order, and sometimes, before a team can make major steps forward as an organization, it may have to take a step back. There is still a lot of talent in Oakland, but it is clear the other three teams made more impactful additions.

What’s next: Oakland will be challenged to find impact players, but it will need to add depth at several places after finding a starting outside linebacker. Oakland needs depth at linebacker, the secondary, offensive line, running back and at quarterback. I think we will see Oakland be patient and add at spots all the way up into the season.

San Diego Chargers

Key additions: WR Robert Meachem, LB Jarret Johnson, WR Eddie Royal, FB Le’Ron McClain, QB Charlie Whitehurst, S Atari Bigby, TE Dante Rosario, LB Demorrio Williams

Key losses: WR Vincent Jackson, RB Mike Tolbert, G Kris Dielman, S Steve Gregory, QB Billy Volek.

Did they get better? I’ve talked to a lot of scouts who believe the Chargers improved. The truth is they lost two good players in Jackson and Tolbert and so did not improve as much as Denver and Kansas City did. But the Chargers did get creative and added a lot of pieces for the price it would have cost to keep Jackson. They also retained key offensive linemen Nick Hardwick and Jared Gaither. Meachem and Royal give quarterback Philip Rivers some interesting weapons.

Johnson will help the defense and he will make it tougher. The Chargers may have gotten a little deeper while losing some star power.

What’s next: The Chargers still haven’t addressed their greatest need outside of keeping its offensive line intact. San Diego will no doubt use its No. 18 pick on the best available pass-rusher to help Johnson is not a great pass-rusher.

Other needs include a big backup running back, offensive line depth and some more depth in all layers of the defense.

A Manning and Porter union?

March, 20, 2012
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While there has been talk the Denver Broncos may bring in some former Indianapolis Colts teammates to make Peyton Manning comfortable, they also may bring in the man who delivered Manning his greatest professional blow.

The Broncos are set to visit with New Orleans cornerback Tracy Porter on Wednesday, according to an NFL source. He is visiting with the Titans on Tuesday.

Porter is best known for returning an interception for a touchdown against Manning in the Super Bowl in 201o. It sealed an upset win for the Saints over the Colts.

In Denver, Porter would likely replace Andre Goodman at right cornerback and play opposite Champ Bailey. Putting Porter on his side would likely be fine with Manning.

Oakland also had interest in Porter -- Oakland coach Dennis Allen coached Porter in New Orleans -- but those talks have stalled after the Raiders signed Ronald Bartell and Shawntae Spencer.
Richard Seymour joked about sleepless nights and Shaun Phillips tweeted about needing to more work out.

Yes, the defenses of the AFC West have been put on notice. Peyton Manning, one of the best players in the NFL if his neck woes are behind him, is joining the division as the new quarterback of the Denver Broncos.

The Manning signing will likely have an effect on the thinking of the three other teams in the AFC West when it comes to making additions this offseason. It’s got to be defense, defense, defense.

That was probably where the three teams were probably leaning toward concentrating on in the draft, anyway.

Kansas City -- coached by Romeo Crennel, whose defenses played well against Manning while he was the defensive coordinator in New England –- will likely look to upgrade on the defensive front and at linebacker early in the draft. The Chiefs loaded up on offense in free agency.

The Raiders have signed veteran cornerbacks Ronald Bartell and Shawntae Spencer. The Raiders will need the experience with Manning gunning for them.

San Diego will look for a pass-rusher in the draft's first round and may add some defensives pieces in free agency. It has also signed Baltimore linebacker Jarret Johnson.

The landscape of the division was rocked by this move and now Denver’s opponents have to adjust accordingly.
The Oakland Raiders have another veteran cornerback.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the Raiders have signed former San Francisco starter Shawntae Spencer. He was cut last week.

He lost his starting job last season, but the nine-year veteran has 77 NFL starts.

He will likely team with Ronald Bartell to be Oakland’s starting cornerbacks. Both players are 30.

The Raiders have discussed adding several cornerbacks, including New Orleans’ Tracy Porter. But with Bartell and Spencer signed, the Raiders may be set with veterans cornerbacks. DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa, who were both taken in the 2011 draft, will both be given a chance to develop.
Dennis Allen has finally landed Ronald Bartell.

Three years ago, when Bartell was last a free agent, he visited the Saints and struck up a relationship with Allen, then New Orleans' secondary coach. Bartell ended up re-signing with the Rams.

Bartell
Friday, however, Allen and Bartell united. The Raiders signed Bartell to a one-year deal. Bartell, 30, will be one of Oakland’s starting cornerbacks. The Raiders will continue to look in free agency for another starting cornerback and have been in the mix for the Saints' Tracy Porter, who has played for Allen.

Bartell said he is looking forward to playing for the new Oakland coach. Bartell also played for Oakland defensive backs coach Clayton Lopez in St. Louis.

I caught up with Bartell on Friday evening; he said is excited about the opportunity to work with familiar faces.

“This is the perfect match for me,” Bartell said. “I know some of these guys and I fell comfortable with what they are doing. I really look forward to the opportunity to playing in Oakland.”

Bartell, who has 66 NFL starts, missed all but one game last season with a neck injury. He said he is completely healthy.

“I’m looking forward to stabilizing the position for Oakland and showing everybody how effective I can be when I’m healthy,” Bartell said.
There are numerous reports that the Raiders will cut linebacker Kamerion Wimbley on Friday. The move has been expected for several weeks.

Wimbley was not interested in a pay-cut. Keeping him on the roster through Saturday would have triggered $17.5 million in bonuses. Wimbley will be paid $6.5 million by the Raiders anyway for this year, but it will save Oakland $4.5 million. He will draw interest on the open market. While the Chargers have already spent a lot in free agency (they have re-signed two players, and added four outside contracts), they need a pass-rusher and might be interested. Chicago is another team to keep an eye on.

Oakland now has more money to spend. It is looking at cornerbacks, including Ronald Bartell and Tracy Porter, and guard Mike Brisiel. Wimbley is poised to be Oakland’s seventh salary-cap dump. So, the Raiders have more roster holes than expected with limited cap room and a small draft class.

In other AFC West news:

Here are the Chiefs’ reactions -- via a team statement -- about the signing of tight end Kevin Boss:

Coach Romeo Crennel: “We are excited about the opportunity to make Kevin a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. Kevin has been a part of successful teams in the past, and knows what it takes to win. I am eager to add him to our offense.”

General manager Scott Pioli: “We felt that signing Kevin continued our free agent plan of adding good players to our roster. Kevin has a track record of personal and team success in this league, and he is a good fit for us.”

The Chiefs are visiting with right tackle Eric Winston, and are trying to sign him. He has a visit set with St. Louis after the Chiefs.

NFL Network is reporting the Broncos will visit with Tampa Bay linebacker Geno Hayes. Denver is looking at several defensive players.

In an Insider piece Insider, Mel Kiper looks at how free agency has affected the Chargers’ draft plans.

Raiders to host Ronald Bartell

March, 15, 2012
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After clearing enough cap space to join in free agency, the Oakland Raiders have targeted a veteran cornerback.

According to an NFL source, the Raiders will visit Thursday with former St. Louis cornerback Ronald Bartell. I think a fairly fast deal between Bartell and the Raiders is possible.

Bartell was cut by St. Louis in a salary-cap move. He played just one game last season due to an injury. But the seventh-year Howard product has started 66 NFL games. He is known for his cover skills, but he is not a real interception threat. He has eight interceptions in his career.

Bartell would be a solid addition to a defense that is desperate for help at cornerback. The Raiders don’t have any starting-quality cornerbacks with experience on the roster. Safety Michael Huff could be moved to corner and second-year player DeMarcus Van Dyke may get a chance to start.

Oakland is also visiting with Houston guard Mike Brisiel.

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