"Holy Toledo!"

March 15, 2009

Raiders Address Line Problems, Sign Barnes

Filed under: NFL — Bill @ 10:30 am

It appears the left tackle position has been filled for the Oakland Raiders, and it will not be by a guy named Pace or Henderson. Khalif Barnes signed a 1 year contract with the Oakland Raiders on Saturday.


Barnes, 26 and in his prime, spent the last four years primarily as the starter at left tackle for Jacksonville. Until last season the Jags were one of the top rushing teams in the NFL, however injuries and off-field issues turned their top flight offensive line into swiss cheese. Barnes was one of the “off-field issue” due to his DUI.


The Raiders were in negotiations with Barnes early last week but Al Davis stepped in and halted the talks. One wonders if the possibility of landing Orlando Pace may have had something to do with this. Then just as quickly as negotiations were off they were back on again, ending in a signed contract Saturday.


The Raiders were one of the teams rumored to be interested in trading for Orlando Pace. When St. Louis was not able to work out a trade for Pace they then released him making him a free agent. At that point it seemed likely that the Raiders & Pace would be in contact with each other. Perhaps Pace wanted more money than the Raiders were willing to offer, or maybe Pace simply didn’t want to play for Oakland. Meanwhile no other NFL team has signed Pace so perhaps his NFL days are numbered. Given the lack of quality left tackles in the league I would suspect that Pace will be back in 2009, but where?


The Raiders left tackle position was owned by former SF 49er Kwame Harris at the start of the ’08 season. By the end of last year Harris led the NFL in penalties and he was replaced by Mario Henderson. Offensive line was an obvious weakness for Oakland last year so an upgrade was needed.


Many speculate that the Raiders will select one of the top two tackles in the April NFL Draft. This is still possible however it now appears unlikely that the two highly rated tackles will still be on the board when Oakland takes their #7 pick. This could be one of the reasons why the Raiders changed their mind about Khalif Barnes.


Equally as interesting is that Oakland has done nothing to shore up its below par wide receiver corps (which ranked last in the NFL in production). Several decent WR’s are available on the free agent market but none of them have visited the Alameda facility for a tryout. Does this give us a hint as to what the Raiders may do in the Draft? Perhaps, but don’t count on it because Al Davis is extremely high on the two young WR’s currently on the roster (Higgins & Schilens). These two are good but I still would like to see them add a top flight receiver.


The obvious choice is Michael Crabtree from Texas Tech, however there is a good chance he may be already gone before the Raiders turn comes up. The second rated WR in the Draft is Jeremy Maclin from Missouri.


Former starting center Jay Grove was released and he quickly signed a huge deal with the Dolphins. This leaves a hole that will also likely be filled in the Draft, however there is nobody ranked high enough to warrant a selection at the #7 pick. This may give us a clue as to where the Raiders may go in the 2nd or 3rd round.


We are still over a month away from the 2009 NFL Draft, there are quite a few quality players still available on the free agent market, so much could change.




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