Rumors flying under the Raiders’ own roof
The trade rumors are circulating, the draft gossip is spreading … and that’s just inside the Raiders’ locker room.
Desperate to see a turnaround after a 2-14 debacle, players have been wondering among themselves what those atop the organization’s leadership chart should do with the No. 1 overall pick of the NFL draft come Saturday morning.
Truth is, they’re not even sure the people in charge have made a decision, even as team officials continue contract talks with the top three prospects: LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson and Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn.
“Of course, we” wonder, free safety Stuart Schweigert said. “In the weight room, that’s all we talk about every day. What we’d like to have happen, what we think is going to happen.
“Right now, who knows? No one does. I don’t know if the coaches know. I don’t even think Al Davis knows yet.”
Little information is leaking outside the closed doors at team headquarters, but online and print media reports are giving players and fans ample fodder to debate.
ESPN.com reported Tuesday the Raiders would draft Johnson if the Chiefs traded quarterback Trent Green to the Dolphins, with the expectation Miami would cut Daunte Culpepper, who then could sign with the Raiders.
Pro Football Talk followed with a report saying the Raiders offered Quinn a “lowball” deal, citing a league source Wednesday.
One Raiders source called that rumor “doubtful” and doesn’t expect the team to sign its choice before the draft. Five of the past No. 1 overall picks were signed to a contract before the draft.
The potential leak could be the Raiders’ way of leveraging a better deal from Russell or Johnson, both of whom could expect up to $30 million in guaranteed money if drafted first.
“Mr. Davis is a very sharp man,” Raiders wide receiver Ron Curry said. “I’m sure he’ll make the right decision.”
Whatever that decision is, it will have an immediate impact on Curry and the other receivers.
Among the receivers this offseason, Curry received a contract extension, Alvis Whitted was re- signed, Jerry Porter was embraced by the new coaching staff and Randy Moss was not traded, though rumors of his departure to Green Bay will persist through draft day.
“Whatever they do is going to affect us,” Curry said. “If they go out and pick a wide receiver, what are they going to do with all that talent? Everybody can’t stay.”
And if they draft a quarterback, as most expect?
“If they get a quarterback, he’s going to be young,” Curry said. “What are we going to be able to do and not be able to do? I do know the top portion of (prospects) has talent. I don’t know how you can go wrong with whatever decision they make.”
That is the one thing most players seem to agree on, though the same was said in 2004 when left tackle Robert Gallery, taken second overall, was considered the safe pick.
“The thing is, you have to be able to come right in and be that difference maker that we need,” Schweigert said. “I think all three guys have the ability to … be a playmaker right now.
“It’s going to be exciting to see who we get.” Roster moves: One wide receiver was removed from the equation Wednesday when the Raiders released Leo Bookman.
Before you call it a sign Oakland is making room for Johnson, relax. Bookman was an undrafted rookie who spent last season on the practice squad.
Oakland also signed defensive tackle Josh Shaw and defensive back Kris Richard. Neither was on an NFL roster last season, with Richard last playing for the 49ers in 2005. Roster check: The Raiders will have a mandatory minicamp next weekend, the second of three allowed and the first that isn’t voluntary for players.
Two players to watch for are Moss, who has yet to rescind his trade demands, and Pro Bowl defense end Derrick Burgess, who reportedly wants a new contract after making two straight Pro Bowls.
Moss and Burgess have not attended voluntary workouts. Defensive tackle Warren Sapp also did not participate in the voluntary minicamp, but was at the facility soon after. E-mail David White at [email protected]icle.com.