Thursday, January 2, 2014
All-AFC West: Oakland Raiders
By Paul Gutierrez
Tracy Porter and Lamarr Houston are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. The Oakland Raiders would be wise to re-sign both as the cornerback and defensive end were named to our all-AFC West first-team defense in a vote by the four ESPN.com NFL Nation reporters who cover the division.
That the Raiders were the lone team in the division to not qualify for the playoffs should speak volumes for Porter, who also slid into the slot on nickel defense and whose 67 tackles ranked third among AFC corners, and Houston, whose 69 tackles led the division’s defensive ends.
Still, Houston, who had a team-high six sacks after moving to the right side after playing the first three years of his career on the left, raised many eyebrows following the Raiders’ 34-14 season-ending loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday when he said he did not expect to return to Oakland.
“I believe that Dennis Allen and the Raiders might be looking to move on and have me go to another team and find something more what they want for their system and their scheme,” Houston said. “Who knows? It’s a rough business, and nothing’s guaranteed, and everything changes from day to day.”
Later that night, though, Houston took to Twitter to blame the Fourth Estate for taking him out of context.
“I would love to b back in Oakland if they will take me,” Houston tweeted. “best fans in the league…u listen to the media u a fool.”
“I did see that quote, and that’s not the case,” Allen said of his purported desire to move on from Houston. “Obviously, I sat down with Lamarr today and had a nice discussion with him. We’d love to have him back. We think he fits our system and what we’re trying to do and we think he’s a guy that we can build with.”
There has been no such drama with Porter, who had two interceptions, including a pick-six of the New York Giants’ Eli Manning, becoming the only player in league history to return an interception for a touchdown against both Manning brothers.
Porter said during the regular season he was not necessarily thinking about next year ... yet.
“I’m not saying I don’t want to come back,” Porter said in mid-December, “I would. Otherwise I wouldn’t have come here from the start.”
A case could be made that two other Raiders players should have been named all-AFC West in fullback Marcel Reece and punter Marquette King.
Despite being underutilized in Oakland’s offense, Reece was named to his second consecutive Pro Bowl. He also started at tailback at the New York Jets when Rashad Jennings and Darren McFadden were injured. He rushed for a career-high 123 yards, including a career-long 63-yard touchdown run. On the year, he averaged 4.6 yards per rush and scored two TDs while also catching 32 passes for 331 yards and two scores.
So how was Reece snubbed? The voting system asked us to vote for three receivers and no fullbacks -- and with the season turned in by Jamaal Charles, there you have it. I’m sure Reece will be fine, though, lounging in the Honolulu sun for the NFL’s reimagined all-star game.
King, meanwhile, led the NFL in gross average (48.9 yards) in his first year replacing Shane Lechler and had an AFC West-long punt of 66 yards this season.
Then there was middle linebacker Nick Roach, who led the NFL’s MLBs in sacks (5.5) and forced fumbles (4).