JaMarcus Russell. He held out for most of training camp; in fact, the number one pick in the draft was one of the last players to sign with their respective teams. Obviously for him, it paid off receiving a six-year contract worth up to $68 million, with $31.5 million guaranteed. But it hurt the Raiders, because it forced him to sit on the bench almost the entire year. His actual full first game was in week 16, considered garbage time because the team had nothing else to lose. Or so they thought. He completed seven of 23 passes for one touchdown (winding minutes of the game) and a "modest" three interceptions. Through 2008, he remained inconsistent but has matured. Let's see if he can earn a bit of the 68 mil.
Daren McFadden. Another top-five pick for the Raiders, and seemingly another bust. I don't care if anyone thinks he needs time or the fact that they have two very capable runningbacks in Michael Bush and Justin Fargas. When you sign a six-year, $60 million contract with $26 million guaranteed, you are expected to bust out in training camp and have a chokehold on the starting position. He did play well in his first 20 carry game against KC but has been struggling ever since; never pulled that "Adrian Peterson" everyone was expecting, or at least hoping, from him.
Javon Walker. Though only just finishing his seventh year as a pro, Javon Walker was widely believed to be a bit past his prime. He wasn't considered as physical or speedy as he was in Green Bay. The knee injury he received halfway through the season was a big blow to Denver's offense. Being released from Denver wasn't too big of a shock to most people, and the Raiders picking him up wasn't that surprising either. It was the six-year, $55 million contract (one of the richer contracts in the League) he signed that threw everyone over the edge. Why spend so much money on a WR who is quite frankly not productive and, on top of that, is coming off of a major knee injury? Well, the Raiders ended up paying for that too, as Walker only played seven games before reinjuring his knee. Adding insult to injury (no pun intended), he only had 15 catches for 196 and a touchdown. Well worth the 55 million dollars, right…?
Tommy Kelly. Finally there is big Tommy Kelly. I was on the verge of pulling my hair out at the end of this story. With moves like these, the Raiders deserve the bottom spot every season. Tommy Kelly was signed as an undrafted free agent, and he played pretty well for what he was, undrafted. He racked up eight sacks in two years and limited playing time. Then came 2006, which everyone expected to be his breakout season. But everyone was disappointed. He racked up a dismal 3.5 sacks (being used as a sack specialist). So far, it doesn't sound too bad; undrafted free agents are usually signed to the minimum one-year $750,000 contract, the team didn't lose much in that investment. In 2007, he played seven games before injuring his knee and being placed on injured reserve. This is where it gets frustrating, that very same off-season; on the eve of free agency, he signs one of the biggest deals to a DE a seven-year, $50.5 million contract with $18.125 million in guarantees and $25.125 million in the first three years. Do the Raiders really see something that nobody else does? Do they really think throwing all this money around will make the fans happy, pretend like it's helping, hoping everyone will shut up? I think it's time for Al Davis to step aside from the GM position and let someone smarter take the rains; Al's successful days are obviously numbered.
The only smart decision they have made is keeping defensive back Nnamdi Asomugha, widely considered one of the best shutdown corners in the league. But again, at what cost? They say it is a three-year deal, whereby he can earn up to $50 million. He has proven that he can earn every penny, but would any other team be willing to cough up as much money on one player as the Raiders? I guess we'll have to keep wondering.