<
>

Raiders cut ties with Brooks after one season

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders, who own the No. 1 pick in April's NFL draft, cut ties with Aaron Brooks on Thursday, declining to pick up the option on the quarterback's contract after one difficult season.

Brooks, who would have been due a $5 million roster bonus if he
had stayed on the roster, failed to win any of his eight starts
with the Raiders. The quarterback, who signed with Oakland after six seasons
with the New Orleans Saints, will now look to join his third team
in as many years.

The timing of Brooks' release is interesting because the Raiders and first-year coach Lance Kiffin are in Indianapolis for the annual scouting combine, where former LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell will work out and is a candidate to be selected as the top pick. Russell and Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn are considered the two top quarterbacks in this year's draft.

Brooks' release saves the Raiders $5.72 million of salary cap room.

Brooks' one season in Oakland got off to a disastrous start when
he was sacked seven times in a season-opening 27-0 loss to the Chargers. He got hurt after fumbling two snaps from center
the following week in Baltimore and missed the next seven games
with a strained pectoral muscle.

Brooks played better after his return in November, but still was
unable to generate a win for his new team. He finished the season
with a passer rating of 61.7 after completing 57.3 percent of his
passes and throwing eight interceptions and three touchdown passes.
He was sacked 26 times in eight games.

The problems on Oakland's offense went much deeper than the
quarterback. Receivers Randy Moss and Jerry Porter were disgruntled
and unproductive all season, running back LaMont Jordan went down
with a season-ending knee injury in the same game Brooks returned
from his injury, and the offensive line was one of the worst in the
league.

Brooks acknowledged late in the season that he never could have
imagined all that went wrong in his one season with the Raiders.

Oakland scored just 168 points in 2006, the fifth fewest in a
16-game season, and failed to score on offensive touchdown in
eight games. Offensive coordinator Tom Walsh, who had been out of
the NFL for more than a decade before returning to the Raiders, was
demoted late in the season.

Head coach Art Shell was fired following the 2-14 season, the
worst in owner Al Davis' more than four decades with the franchise.
Lane Kiffin replaced Shell and has overhauled the offensive
coaching staff.

With third-string quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo expected to
leave as a free agent, Andrew Walter likely will be the only
quarterback to return from last season. Walter went 2-6 in place of
the injured Brooks last season, struggling with turnovers and
accuracy.

Walter threw 13 interceptions, lost nine fumbles and was sacked
46 times. He completed only 53.3 percent of his passes, threw for
three touchdowns and had a passer rating of 55.8.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com senior NFL writer John Clayton was used in this report.