Oakland Raiders: Art Shell

We continue our list of the bottom 5 Oakland Raiders free-agent signings in franchise history with quarterback Aaron Brooks checking in at No. 4 ...

Kerry Collins may not have elicited the most excitement or even a modicum of team success as a Raiders quarterback, but he was coming off a 3,759-yard passing season with 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 15 games in 2005. And he wanted to come back in 2006.

The Raiders, though, decided to go in an entirely different direction with Art Shell returning for his second tour of duty as Raiders coach by replacing Norv Turner , signing Brooks to a two-year, $9 million contract after five solid seasons starting for the New Orleans Saints.

But things got off to a bad start – Brooks was sacked seven times in a 27-0 season-opening loss to the San Diego Chargers – and never really got better.

Brooks lost a pair of fumbled snaps in Week 2 at the Baltimore Ravens and strained a pectoral muscle in the process as he did not play again for two months. By the time the season ended, Brooks never won a game, going 0-8 as a starter, while throwing three touchdown passes, eight interceptions and completing 57.3 percent of his passes for a career-low passer rating of 61.7. He was also sacked 26 times in his eight starts.

Of course, it was not all Brooks’ fault – the Raiders of 2006 were an utter mess. It was the season of Tom Walsh coming from running a bed and breakfast to serve as Shell’s offensive coordinator, before he was demoted, and of receivers Randy Moss and Jerry Porter essentially mailing it in, and running back LaMont Jordan being lost for the season in the same game Brooks returned from his injury.

Whether it was Brooks or Andrew Walter under center, those Raiders were historically bad, scoring the fifth-fewest points in league history in a 16-game season (168) while failing to score an offensive touchdown in eight games.

But it was Brooks who was brought in to lead the team ... and it was Brooks who paid for the failure as the Raiders did not pick up his option for the second year. He never played another down in the NFL.

Another lasting legacy of Brooks? Oakland went 2-14, the worst of any Al Davis Raiders team, and had the No. 1 overall pick in the draft ... which they used to select JaMarcus Russell.

Previous lists

Top 5 free-agent signings

5. Jerry Rice

4. John Matuszak

3. Rich Gannon

2. George Blanda

1. Jim Plunkett

Bottom 5 free-agent signings

5. Mike Brisiel

4. Aaron Brooks

3. ?

2. ?

1. ?

Would Raiders draft Michael Sam?

February, 10, 2014
Does Missouri defensive end Michael Sam coming out as gay Sunday night on ESPN’s "Outside the Lines" affect the Oakland Raiders' thinking on the NFL draft prospect?

Doesn't sound like it, so long as Sam has the skill set to play in the NFL.

"The Oakland Raiders have long championed diversity and opportunity," Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie said in a team-issued release Monday afternoon. "The organization will evaluate Michael Sam based purely on his ability as a football player."

Indeed, as an organization under the late Al Davis, the Raiders hired a Latino head coach in Tom Flores, who became the first minority head coach to win a Super Bowl as he won two, the first African-American head coach in modern NFL history in Art Shell, who was the league’s coach of the year in 1990, and the highest-ranking female executive in former CEO Amy Trask.

Sam, who was the SEC’s co-defensive player of the year with 11 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss, would seem to fill a need for the Raiders, who are in search of an edge rusher. Plus, defensive ends Lamarr Houston, Jason Hunter and Vance Walker are all free agents.

Still, Oakland already has a project in Jack Crawford and the 6-feet-2, 260-pound Sam might be a bit undersized for the Raiders’ needs in their 4-3 defensive alignment. If he is still around in the later rounds of the draft, perhaps the Raiders take a shot.

Raiders players have been silent on their Twitter feeds regarding Sam’s announcement but Pro Bowl fullback Marcel Reece took part in a public service announcement last summer regarding gay athletes.

The theme was "If you can play, you can play," and Reece joined other Bay Area sports personalities such as San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, Oakland Athletics center fielder Coco Crisp, San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito, Golden State Warriors guard/forward Klay Thompson, San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton and San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski in the inclusivity-promoting PSA.