Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Newberry experiment begins

I hope I’m wrong. Flat out wrong. I made no bones about my objection to the potential signing of offensive lineman Jeremy Newberry in a post several weeks ago. Do the Raiders need help up front? Of course they do. Is Newberry the best option out there? Out 448 possible free agents available (not all O-linemen mind you), was Newberry the first priority?

I say no.

Not that there aren’t plenty of places Newberry could play on Oakland’s line. He’s a natural center, and Jake Grove can’t be considered a serious long term solution at the position. Grove did start all 16 games at center for Oakland in 2006, but he was a minor obstacle for opposing defenses.

Finances, as is more the norm, unfortunately contributed to the Raiders decision. Their cap situation didn’t leave them in a position where they could spend big dollars on free agents. There’s also the issue of availability at the position.

Newberry comes at a reasonable $1.5 million, and his deal is limited to a single season.

Tampa Bay’s Sean Mayhan is the only free agent lineman with center experience that’s still available. Mayhan spent all of 2006 at left guard, but he’s an option in the middle. Denver guard Cooper Carlisle also remains an option.

Oakland missed out on Eric Steinbach (signed with Cleveland). Shaun O'Hara and Pro-Bowler Rueben Brown are out of Oakland’s price range (and Brown’s too old). And that’s all she wrote folks. No mas on the free agent market.

So the Newberry experiment begins. The guy’s credentials are decent, but those knees are a huge liability.

I hope I’m wrong about Jeremy Newberry.

News & Notes:

The Raiders also added four more assistant coaches: John DeFilippo (QBs), James Cregg (Assistant O-Line), Randy Hanson (Assistant DBs) and Sanjay Lal (Quality Control, Offense). Kelly Skipper, who was hired last month, will coach tight ends.



Blogger Jerious Norwood said...

Look, before you analyze a signing you have to keep it in a little context. Sure Steinbach or Davis would have been more of an upgrade, but they also signed for $20 million guaranteed. I don't know if you noticed, but Newberry got $0 dollars guaranteed. A slight difference don't you think? So if Newberry is a good addition, great. If not, too bad. But there is zero lost. And hey, he claims that his knees haven't felt better in five years. So it might turn out to been the best O-line signing of the off season.

Either way, there is zero risk.

Also, people that point to the failure of last years line are over blowing the situation. Not one single player in the NFL could have performed even adequately in that crappy system. The Raiders are going to be running a state of the art offense next season, with a capable line coach. The line is going to be just fine, you watch.

March 8, 2007 at 7:31 AM  
Anonymous mike said...

JN, oh no doubt, I wasn't implying that it wouldn't cost the Raiders anything to sign one of those other guys, and YES the non-gauranteed money part of the equation is certainly a great option for the Raiders.

My only point is, at the end of the day, would you rather have a fully functional Sherman tank defending you or a Sherman tank with one of its tracks knocked off defending you?

The Raiders have always been fanastic about bringing in free agents. Al Davis isn't afraid to spend money on talent. The fan in me wishes the Raiders did whatever it takes to put the best product possible on the field, but the realist recognizes the issue created by finance, the cap, etc. in todays game.

March 8, 2007 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Jerious Norwood said...

I think you also have to keep in mind that this is the weakest group of free agents in recent memory. In past years, most of these guys would have been second or third tier options. In fact, I'm glad that Al has stayed out of the fray thus far. There's no reason to spend money just because your fans are bored during the off season.

And again, mark my words... This offensive line will be good, if not great, now that they don't have to deal with that fool Art Shell anymore. I'm telling you now.

March 9, 2007 at 4:54 AM  

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