Raiders flop at free agency

This is my Wednesday column. WARNING: This is a Raiders column. 49ers fans — feel free to skip this.

You’ve got to wait on Raiders’ general manager Reggie McKenzie, give him a chance. Don’t judge him on his first two horrible seasons. Those weren’t his fault. He had to tear down Al Davis’ mess. You can’t judge McKenzie until Year 3.

Fifteen minutes into Year 3, McKenzie flopped.

McKenzie let the Raiders’ left tackle, Jared Veldheer, walk away to the Arizona Cardinals for a five-year, $35 million contract as soon as free agency began. A few minutes later, McKenzie gave more money – $42.5 million over five years – to a lesser player, Rodger Saffold.* He is a better offensive guard than an offensive tackle.

Now, the Raiders have to spend their first-round pick in the upcoming draft on a left tackle, the most important position on the offensive line. They can’t trade down – all of the good left tackles will be gone after the top 10 picks. And the Raiders can’t take a quarterback with their first pick, either, because Veldheer isn’t around to protect him.

Ain’t that a shame?

Around the same time Veldheer signed with the Cardinals, the Raiders’ free agent defensive end Lamarr Houston signed with the Chicago Bears. McKenzie just let him go. The Raiders have one of the least-talented rosters in the NFL and more cap space than any other team, but McKenzie let his top two free agents walk.

Not a good 15 minutes for Reggie McKenzie. It almost seems like he was trying to make the Raiders worse, if that’s possible.

He could have franchised Veldheer or Houston. He didn’t. Instead, it seems like players are fleeing the Raiders.

Who did McKenzie choose to re-sign? Darren McFadden, the running back who never has played a full season during his six-year NFL career, and has the durability of a cream puff.

What a mistake. The Raiders will be lucky to win five games next season.

It’s not like these mistakes were firsts for McKenzie. He made mistakes last year, too. Remember, he traded for Matt Flynn, a bust. And the top-two players McKenzie drafted – D.J. Hayden and Menelik Watson – played 13 games combined last season.

McKenzie appears to be in over his head. The decisions to re-sign McFadden and not Veldheer or Houston, to trade for Flynn, and to draft Hayden and Watson all had come from McKenzie, because Raiders’ owner Mark Davis sure doesn’t know football. He depends on McKenzie, for better or worse, mostly worse.

Unfortunately for Davis, he will not find the answers to the Raiders’ problems in a fortune cookie with his lunch at PF Chang’s.

At minimum, there are five problems on Davis’ plate:

1. Himself. Davis has relatively little experience as an owner, and nobody to turn to for mentoring or consulting. Talking to John Madden and Ron Wolf obviously has not helped.

2. Bad stadium. Davis can’t get a new one any time soon. The 49ers built three locker rooms in their new Santa Clara stadium – one for the Niners, one for their opponent and one for a third team who could share the stadium with the Niners for a price. If Davis can swallow his silver-and-black pride, the Raiders can become the 49ers’ tenants.

3. McKenzie. A general manager in his first rodeo, and the bull is about to throw him to the ground and stomp him. McKenzie probably will not get a contract extension in 2015.

4. Dennis Allen. A head coach on his last legs. Allen probably will not get an extension in 2015.

5. No starting quarterback. McKenzie has to draft a QB and sign another one. Do you have faith that he can draft and sign the right ones, and that Allen can coach them up? Me neither.

Now, thanks to McKenzie, the Raiders have bonus problems – no left tackle and no pass rusher.

When McKenzie leaves and Davis replaces him, here’s what you’re going to hear: “You’ve got to wait on new Raiders’ general manager Joe Blow, give Joe Blow a chance. Don’t judge him on his first two horrible seasons. Those won’t be his fault. He has to tear down McKenzie’s mess. You can’t judge Joe Blow until Year 3.”

And then, maybe, Joe Blow will last more than 15 minutes before he flops.

Progress.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

* The Raiders just voided Saffold’s contract because he apparently failed his physical. Shortly after that move, the Rams signed Saffold to a five-year contract. More good news for McKenzie. Now the Raiders really have to draft a left tackle with the No.5 pick.

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  1. where do you get the idea that Veldheer is that much better of a Left Tackle than Saffold? I’ve heard a couple of GMs interviewed and a scout or two say that Saffold is potential Pro Bowl Guard and good Left Tackle. Veldheer is talented but no one is quite sure of him yet…and if anyone should have a definitive opinion on Veldheer it should be the Raiders.

  2. This organization (and I use that term loosely) is a shell of its former self. The Raiders used to be a winning team, but Al Davis’ glory days passed him by…now his son and McKenzie are ruining the team even more…Al set them back ten years…Marc Davis and Reggie McKenzie have set them back ten more…terrible

    1. Not terrible……it’s a reckoning…..you reap what you sow. I feel absolutely no compassion for them or the fans at all

      1. BRAVO, Claude……I never miss watching Tombstone when it comes on the tube….the reckoning comes from the hands of the Raiders themselves, for thier stupidity, and mis-managment of the last 10 years…God, I Love it!
        When I was a kid (mid-60′s to early 70′s) the majority of my friends were Raider fans, and I took a whole lot of $h#t from them for being a 9er fan, since the 49er’s weren’t very good, but for a few of years (’69-’72 I believe)…Silver and Black this, Silver and Black that…blah, blah, blah…commitment to excellence…HAH!….Sickening…
        Watching them struggle to put points on the board, and keep the opposition from the end zone….priceless….yeah, it’s a reckoning.

  3. what’s the big deal about Houston? There are better Free Agent DEs available and they have the cap space to get them. Houston is good but is he premium free agent money good? I don’t think so. They also still have the draft to find a defensive end too. Ends that aren’t pure pass rushers are usually not that expensive so you don’t break the bank on them.

      1. Because they’d have to over pay big-time to get anyone good to come to the Raiders, just like they overpaid for Saffold.

  4. a 1 year $4M deal for McFadden isn’t too bad if you’ve got the cap room for the luxury. He’s good for a handful of explosive plays a season. it’s not like its a long term commitment.

    what you have to understand is that the Raiders are under the gun to spend their cap money to meet CBA requirements.

    1. Allfor., McFadden makes sense considering the price — even as a part time player with a long shot chance at one healthy season. The Veldheer for Saffold dollar for dollar swap is a puzzle.

      What really puzzles me, though, is with the highest cap in the NFL where are all the other signings one should expect from a team called The Raiders. We should be seeing a feeding frenzy from Mckenzie. The Niners are already ahead in signings with their measly 9 mil. to work from. 60+mil / 9 mil — opposite ends of the spectrum here. One has to bottom feed for second chance hopefuls. The other has the opportunity to go after some creme de la creme.

  5. Free Agency is mostly a patchwork personnel solution. What will make or break McKennzie and the Raiders will be this year’s draft and weather or not those young players and the patch work of free agents they acquire can put together a promising season.

  6. Grant;
    You are probably correct. However it is possible they plan to trade the Raiders 1st round choice to the 49ers so they can draft Watkins and the Raiders get the Niners 1st in 2014 and 2015 and the 2th and 3rd round choices this year. The Raiders need to add a lot of quality players and the Niners could use a game changer.
    But in all likelihood this will not happen and the Raiders will draft J. Russell 2.0.

      1. because you don’t believe Saffold is a Left Tackle? contrary to other other NFL scouting opinions? they could go Left Tackle in the draft and have Saffold play guard (but they paid him like a Tackle). Or take another position in the draft and play Saffold at Tackle.

          1. has that been addressed by the Raiders? I haven’t heard that. I know it’s an option depending on how Watson recovers and develops.

              1. i’m objective enough to look at all info. so here it is.

                Source in Oakland Raiders organization confirmed that Saffold will play OG in 2014
                -Tony Softli via Twitter

                and you’ll like this quote:

                Roger Saffold is best at guard. If the Raiders think they can plug him at LT in place of Veldheer and be fine they’re in for a shock
                -Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus via Twitter

                Rodger Saffold and Raiders Agree on 5-Year Contract: Latest Details and Analysis

                So there you are, conflicting reports. I’m guessing the Raiders will keep their options open and play the best solution they have at Left Tackle weather it’s Watson, a Free Agent or a draft pick. depending on how they see things develop.

                As for Veldheer, I’m guessing that they know something that makes them feel he’s not worth free agency money.

              2. Last season, Saffold’s greatest value came in his versatility as he began the season at right tackle, stepped in on the left side after Jake Long suffered a knee injury and also started six games at right guard. Although Saffold played well at tackle, he flashed Pro Bowl promise at guard.

                Sources: Rodger Saffold to Raiders

              3. then the Raiders must really not like something about him. the steep drop off was mostly due to injuries? Maybe they trust Veldheer’s injury history less than Saffold’s? maybe it was something else? most (like yourself) don’t understand the Raiders not keeping Veldheer. I don’t understand it either.

                My only point is that Saffold’s signing isn’t that puzzling, he’s a good guard and a good to serviceable tackle. He keeps their options open.

              4. I’m guessing it’s about the way the money is structured in the contract (front loaded guarantees to help burn the salary cap) with little back end commitment. I’d be willing to be that he’s a 1-2 year place holder. maybe 3 years. and they value his versatility.

        1. Saffold is an above-average guard, and barely an average LT, with no upside. He has neither the size nor explosiveness to get better. And he’s an injury waiting to happen every year.

        1. No, Johnathan Martin doesn’t count. They already have Menelik Watson. The Raiders need a LT who can start right away next to Saffold.

  7. I think he has a bunch of positions to fill and does not have to take a LT at 5. Unless there is a QB they really like I think they would be best served to get as many draft choices as they can in the first 3 rounds in this draft that is viewed as deep talent wise.

  8. I know Veldheer had a little bit of a down year coming off his injury, but the year before he was a beast. Young, talented… the best available FA tackle in my book. The Cardinals added a fantastic piece to their O-line.

    Houston played extremely well last year and is in his prime.

    The Raiders have possibly the worst roster top to bottom in the league right now.

  9. you’re right about the Flynn trade. That would have cost many GMs their job. But McKenzie had some goodwill capital built in because of horrible personnel situation he inherited so they wanted to give him a little time to try to fix it. This year with little salary cap restrictions and some draft picks is what will make or break McKenzie.

  10. I liked Houston and V enough, so I don’t really understand Reg’s thinking, but one day in might be a tad too early to judge the FA season; for Raiders or Niners.

  11. McKenzie is building from the ground up, and shouldn’t be in a hurry to spend money, just because he has money to spend.

    Houston and Veldheer were solid players, but McKenzie is right to believe they were part of the problem, rather than the solution. Houston was great against the run, but not a good pass rusher. He got market value from the Bears, but I don’t think he’s going to make that much of a difference for them. Veldheer showed flashes of star potential, but was too inconsistent, and then got seriously injured at a time when he seemed to be building some momentum and really developing.

    I like the Saffold signing, as well as the Austin Howard signing. Saffold gives them a lot of flexibility, given that he can play multiple positions. Maybe he’s a stop-gap at left tackle, and then moves elsewhere. Howard was a stalwart at right tackle for the Jets the past 2 seasons, and is just entering the prime of his career. Both are for that matter. The Raiders are focusing on strengthening their O-line, and maybe that will help them attract free agent offensive players, especially Quarterbacks.

    It also doesn’t force them to pick a Left Tackle at #5 – Even though one of the top 2 tackle prospects will probably be available at that slot given who picks before the raiders, and what those teams need. It allows them to go BPA, instead of feeling pressure to fill a specific void.

    I’m not a raiders fan by any means, but I don’t think Reggie should be blasted given that free agency has just started. He seems to be building depth, instead of making a few big splashes. PLUS, no one wants to play for the Raiders right now…

    1. There’s a 99-percent chance the Raiders will draft Jake Matthews at No.5, don’t you think?

      I do not understand paying Saffold more money than Veldheer. It’s a mind-boggler.

      1. well, they need to burn their Cap money. need as in required by the CBA. maybe they front loaded all the guarantee money for Saffold and the back end salary is probably up for negotiation? As I said in another post, I don’t know what they had against Veldheer. But they knew him best and didn’t want to pay what the market wanted to pay him. So that should tell us something.

        1. They also knew Darren McFadden best and chose to bring him back. Why???? He’s proven he cannot stay healthy. Mind boggler.

          1. they don’t need to be healthy all the time, they have to consider him to be a 3rd down back and big play type of back. he’s probably not going to be the bell cow. he’ll probably get his touches and they hope to get a big play out of him every other game. it’s a luxury of a team with cap space they need to burn.

            your criticisms here don’t address the downsides of these transactions. these would be big issues for the 49ers and their measely $8M-$13M (when they release Rogers) salary cap space. But not the $65M cap space Raiders who have to spend a good chunk of it per the CBA. They can absorb these small transactions like the Niners trade away 6th round picks. and it’s not like there’s a Peyton Manning on the market to eat up $20M immediately.

            1. I understand having to spend money, but the Raiders spent their money on the wrong people. Insane to spend more guaranteed money on a guard than a left tackle.

              1. what’s the downside to their acquisitions? Saffold is a versatile lineman. a good tackle and an even better Guard. McFadden is a big play change of pace back. again, think of these as if the Niners had acquired them with 6th round picks.

                also it depends on what they really thought of Veldheer. They obviously don’t share the same opinion that most do about his talents at Tackle. They have the money to have kept Veldheer AND get Saffold.

              2. also $2.25M of the $4M McFadden contract are “unlikely to be earned incentives”. So he’s a $1.75M backup/starter 3rd down back.

              3. The downside is they overpaid for a non-premium-position player who gets hurt and misses almost half of every season.

                McKenzie said he would have drafted Hayden with the No.3 pick last year. McKenzie’s opinion may not be that good.

      2. That increases the probability that they will have to trade back up into the first round in order to draft a QB. Hmmm…

      3. I think you’re being too hard on Reggie Grant. No doubt he’s gotten off to a poor start in his first couple of years, but the signings of Saffold and Howard are ok imo. They obviously liked Saffold as they were tied to him before FA started. He is versatile and could become a very good OG, along with being able to play both Tackle spots. They overpaid, no doubt about it, but they obviously wanted him and got him.

        From what I’ve read they felt Veldheer was a better fit at RT than left, which they filled with Howard for 6 mill per. There was also no reason to pay Houston what he got from Chicago. His strength is in stopping the run not as a pass rusher. For 7 mill you have to get a better pass rusher than Houston. Franchising them would have been a mistake as neither are worth anywhere near the Franchise number. There’s also the fact that maybe neither one wanted to come back.

        McFadden is a bit of a head scratcher until you see that his contract is really 1.75 mill with only 100 grand guaranteed. There are incentives that take it up to 4 mill but only if he stays healthy. If McFadden finally has a healthy season, they come out ahead; if he doesn’t they don’t pay him much. Nothing wrong with this deal imo.

        Reggie has a lot of cap room and time. Wait and see what the final tally is before you crucify him like this.

    2. You snooze you loose in the fast paced NFL.

      This is a leaky ship. You got lotsa holes and you have lotsa dough so plug them before you go down.

  12. Grant sez :

    “…..If Davis can swallow his silver-and-black pride, the Raiders can become the 49ers’ tenants…..”

    Grant …

    BITE YER TONGUE !!!

    Trust me … “The Black Hole” … won’t look good …
    in red !

    1. I thought the Niners had publicly stated that they weren’t in favor of sharing their stadium with the Raiders.

      But I found Grant’s comment about the extra locker room very interesting. Maybe they’re keeping their options open or maybe the extra locker room was meant for maybe a Pro Soccer team? I don’t know but Grant makes it an interesting point to consider.

    2. Red could fit into the Raider color scheme, it could represent all the blood from fans of visiting teams that would be spilled every Sunday.

    1. My guess is the Hawks try to find a larger WR at some point. Right now they’ve got Harvin, Baldwin and Kearse to do what Tate did.

  13. Sure the Raiders are bad, but they aren’t this bad:

    @DawgsByNature #Browns leaked FA board when Farmer came out for presser? pic.twitter.com/v6rLMSucb7

    1. one of these days, I want a GM to tweet a pic that “unintentionally” shows the team’s free agent/draft prospect board. The board would be a giant dart board with player names and some darts…with one dart completely missing the board and hitting the name “insert franchise big miss FA/Draft prospect”.

  14. Grant is right on this one,
    While Baalke didn’t hit any home runs in FA, he gave himself flexibility in the draft. He can go BPA all the way down and try to hit a home run there. What Reg should have done was franchise the LT, that would commit him to 1 year only. Then, he could have signed Saffold to play OG (even though he gave him OT money), and Saffold could play ROT or OG. Go into the draft and you can take QB with your draft pick, or trade back and go OT and QB later in the round. Now he’s locked into OT or getting his shiny new QB killed.

    1. The Niners have an established roster chock full of All-Pros. There is no comparison between the job Baalke has and the job McKenzie has.

  15. They brought back McFadden on an incentive laden contract that won’t hurt them if he doesn’t produce or play that much. Plus, the other free agent RB options aren’t that sexy, or, might require long term and costly investments.

    I think that the Raiders might draft a LT. Still, their recent signings enable them to not be pegged with a certain need, nor needing to target a certain player. It allows them to continue the smoke and mirrors/facade/talent evaluation “draft game”, and possibly trade out of that 5th pick if another team wants to move up. The Raiders could use some extra picks, for sure. The recent signings I think will help the Raiders on the field, long term, and also give them draft flexibility and leverage to a certain extent.

    I think Veldheer and Saffold are about even at LT, but Saffold has way more versatility, hence the bigger contract. Saffold – his play, and positional flexibility, reminds me a little bit of Alex Boone. I think Boone should be paid way more given what he does, and what he’s capable of.

    1. Let’s be honest too, Veldheer looked a lot better than he was, because he was an above average player on a pretty bad team…

    2. It seems highly risky to draft a QB at No.5 and bank on Saffold protecting his blindside. If Saffold get hurts yet again, then there’s only Watkins who has played just five games.

            1. Sure they can. This is a deep draft and while Robinson and Matthews are pretty high grade LT’s, Lewan can probably be had by trading down a few spots and Martin/Moses will be available even further down the list.

              They just signed two OL, adding them to Watson who they used a 2nd on last year, and Barnes who they just resigned and played pretty well shuffling all over the place last season.

              While it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to stay put and take one of the top two OT’s if they are there, a trade down for more picks in a draft like this is a better idea imo. They need to build a core of young talent that they are currently devoid of.

              1. They need a LT who can start from Day 1 and play well, and there are only three of those in this draft.

              2. I disagree. They have options with Saffold, Watson and even Barnes who played out there a few games last year, and I’m not going to conclude an OT tackle taken later won’t be able to start when I have no idea if that is the case.

              3. McKenzie will put his new quarterbacks at a much bigger risk if he rolls the dice with Saffold and Watkins and doesn’t draft one of the top-three LTs. Not smart to put the new QBs at risk. Have to protect them. Can’t draft a franchise QB until you have a franchise LT. Losing Veldheer meant losing draft flexibility in the first round. Not smart when they easily could have franchised him.

              4. You have a much higher opinion of Veldheer than the Raiders do Grant. They thought he was better at RT and apparently offered the 5 year 30 mill deal that eventually went to Howard. I think they like Watson as the LT eventually. Saffold is not a bad LT either. He’s been pretty good no matter where he’s lined up. His issue is injuries.

                I don’t think they have lost any flexibility especially considering they still have a ton of cap space to sign more players. You have to let it play out before drawing a conclusion.

              5. The Cardinals’ opinion of Veldheer is sky high.

                I wouldn’t feel comfortable drafting a QB and making him play behind an LT who is “not bad.” Same goes for signing a veteran QB. Maybe I’m more conservative than you are.

                Counting on Saffold to be your LT is sort of like counting on McFadden to be your RB.

              6. I hope the Raiders weren’t counting on Saffold for anything. He failed his physical and the contract has now been voided.

              7. Not franchising Veldheer has to be the worst move of the offseason so far, unless I’m forgetting something.

              8. Well so much for my view that you were being too hard on RM Grant.

                I’m not sure I’ve seen this big of a F up before in this type of situation.

                How does that happen?

      1. Well, I can’t believe they have to draft a QB.

        Didn’t they draft Tyler Wilson, the best QB in last year’s draft?

  16. 1. Veldheer and Houston left for better situations. There’s really nothing the Raiders could do about that.

    2. There’s a salary floor in the NFL and they gotta pay somebody.

    3. There’s nothing saying the Raiders can’t draft a QB. They’re probably better off taking taking a left tackle in the first and a QB after but they aren’t completely handcuffed as Grant asserts. They might even draft Mack and get themselves a pass rusher.

    1. McKenzie can’t draft a QB in at No.5 when he doesn’t have the LT to protect him. Even if the Raiders plan on playing Saffold at LT, he hasn’t played a full season since 2010. He has missed 17 games the past three seasons.

      Can’t draft the QB before the LT.

  17. Got no love for the Rai – duhs . Been around too many Raider fans basking in the demise of the 49ers during our dark years. But +10 years of Al Davis holding them back and what looks like another +10 years……even I feel sorry for them (well just a little).

  18. I think the raiders can go BPA at #5, and use their early second round pick on a solid LT tackle prospect that’s likely to be there. OR, take a risk on one with potential, but has some question marks. Think — Kouandjio, Morgan Moses, or Antonio Richardson.

    Also, let’s not forget about Menelik Watson. He didn’t do much last year, but he battled injuries and has some good potential. Very raw though.

    1. So the question continues… Would you rather have Bethea+Gabbert+Wright for $9 million this year…. Or Revis for $12 million?

      You guys don’t need to answer that.

        1. Not at all. I think we could’ve still afforded the $12 mil somehow. I know it may have been tricky. But I’m sure we could’ve cobbled together some way to do it. Maybe a major major restructuring? I know Ray McDonald has a sizeable contract for what he provides. Brooks and Willis are making a lot. Something.

      1. A stop-gap at SS, a backup QB, some much needed depth at CB, and a quality kicker vs. a money grubbing CB? It’s no contest Sully. We filled four needs versus just one. Revis would have been nice, but he wants too much money.

        1. Yep, I guess some people just aren’t happy unless the team overpays for a bunch of big name free agents.

          I for one am happy with the moves, especially the Bethea signing. Good player, should suit the system nicely, and allows the team to avoid over-reaching for a safety in the draft in a weak safety class. I think he is more than just a stop gap too – he’s durable.

  19. And you all thought Grant was tough on them thar Niners.

    For you Raider fans, be for warned; this ain’t no easy to swallow sugar coated puff piece.

  20. Wow… $12mil. Shaking my head. I guess im in the minority on wanting a shut down corner. Oh well maybe our splash is in the draft.Would have been fun though

    1. You’re not in the minority, Steelematic. Everyone on this board is trying to justify why we couldn’t have Revis because it hurts so bad that we blew free agency for a second year in a row.

      What’s funny is that a few of the people who commented about NOT making an impact signing yesterday, cited Belichick as an example of someone who builds a team by avoiding the impact signing.

      The moral of the story is there is no one way to build a team–except for using your money in the right amounts on the right players. That’s what we’ve failed to do so far.

      1. Wow sully, sounds like you should be following the Redskins. Dan Snyder is a man after your own heart. Can’t argue with the incredible success the team has had too… oh, wait.

        1. No, Scooter, the Redskins give the wrong people the wrong amount of money. If you read everything I’ve posted, I’m AGAINST that.

          1. All I’ve seen from you are posts outlining how other teams are spending big money on the top name free agents while the 49ers are not, and how that means the front office has blown it. The 49ers don’t have the cap room to make those moves without weakening another position. Revis would be great, but who are we have been losing to get him?

  21. Ok, even though i realized this a couple years ago, balkke does not like the high priced free agent. Even though certain ones could help us immediately. Like Revis, or D ware to name a few. But he is willing to
    bring in aging guys on 1 year deals hoping
    they contribute. All the while hoping his draft picks pan out. No disrespect to balkee
    because he is doing a decent job, but all i ask for is just 1. 1 guy that can help our Super Bowl chances in the NOW, not in 2 years. Maybe im wrong, but we sre built to win now, but he plays it like this team is filled with guys in their early 20′s. Im pretty sure guys like gore and j smith want a Super Bowl now, not when they are to old toccontribute. In my eyes you are doing them a disservice. But hey, great job on controlling the cap, and not overpaying for middle of the road guys. Great way to get guys that fit our system, and last but not least, sign Harbaugh now. Becausehis ccoaching will always hype up his players. Because sometimes, even though we go against stud qb’s and we are given no shot to win, this man coaches up his boys and they play their heart out. Because with no hight priced top end guys on that secondary we are gonna need to play our hearts out to keep being who we are. Go Niners! #Let’s Get It

    1. no, but because of the goings on at Harbor Bay Parkway, I think he has rolled over in his grave more often than a chicken on the spit at Safeways

    1. Carolina let him go because of his locker room personality and because he could no longer win one on one matchups. All he has left is his, “ice up” trash talk.

    1. technically, the Raiders failed Saffold for his physical. The Rams claim there’s nothing wrong with him medically and are resigning him.

    1. Hehe, from Frank Schwab (@yahooschwab):

      “What can the Raiders do for an encore? Draft the wrong Greg Robinson or something?”

    2. Grant, I’ll give you your due on this one. The numbers did not add up compared to the other offensive tackles like Veldheer and Eugene Monroe in free agency. I tried to find a plausible reason for the deal. But it appears you were right. The numbers just didn’t add up and it looked like a bad deal.

      1. Yeah, I got a little put off him though when I learned more about his character concerns.

        Still, impressive physical talents and was badly miscast in the Vikings D. Worth a look on the cheap.

  22. I definitely agree with Grant on this one. 60 Mil under the cap, perhaps the leagues worst roster, a fan base that is chompin at the bit(redundant) for ANYTHING that hints at hope and Mckenzie acts like General George Brinton Mcclellan on the Yorktown Peninsula. Overwhelming resources but an inexplicable inability to act.

    My impression is that Raider fans might be going crazy. Yuk Yuk. Since 1986 the Raiders have exactly seven winning seasons and three of those were during the Chuckie/Callahan era. Take away those three and its four winning seasons out of twenty-four.

    So much for Commitment to Mediocrity.

    It seems logical that the Raiders have to do something that will rally their fan base and give hope that they might be able to produce a winning year while they are still in Oakland. I looked at several Raider forums today and this is not the message that their fans are getting.

  23. Simple fact. Niners could not afford Revis and then hope to sign draft picks for this year. This is the dilemma of good teams, contracts go up; cap ceiling looms closer and closer with each passing playoff year.

    Maybe they decide to move up in the draft to get DB Justin Gilbert and thus need to pay him accordingly. I pick him as an example because obviously they need a corner (especially if they loose Terrell Brown).
    But, furthermore, I have never seen a player look so perfect in the combine before as Gilbert did amongst a good DB class no less. His speed was unmatchable and his drills were impeccable. To me he looks like the next island maker. Gilbert Island?

  24. Not a close follower of the (post LA move) Raiders.

    Anyone have an idea who the Raiders are saving all the cap space for? Maybe they are quietly working out a trade for Kaepernick. (98% kidding)

    1. Baalke seems to have a good judge of talent, particularly defensive backs. I just want to see minimal investment and no guaranteed money so we can cut him if he sucks during tc

    2. What I can’t figure out is why we would be interested in Cook! That is the mind boggler.

      Cook does have good size (6-2, 212 pounds) and general manager Trent Baalke, who prizes arm length, is well aware that Cook’s levers measured a healthy 32 ½ inches at the 2010 combine. -sfgate

      1. Don’t forget he also ran 4.46s 40 and had an 11’0″ broad jump and 38″ vertical. He’s a physical specimen that was best in press coverage in college.

        He gets dismissed by a lot of people because he struggled so much at the Vikings. That’s fair enough, he was very poor his whole time there. But they didn’t often use him to his strengths either. Another concern is his injury history, and also whether he’s got the desire and motivation to make it.

        If he comes in for cheap then its a low risk deal for guy with all the physical qualities the 49ers look for. May as well give him a look.

          1. I agree – so long as it is a cheap deal with no long term commitment.

            When he was drafted there was a lot of talk he could move to safety. I’m not sure I buy it though. While he doesn’t mind getting a little physical in coverage, he’s not the physical presence his size would suggest and not good enough in run support.

  25. I think after the 49ers get their CB they’ll sign Jed Collins or maybe Greg Jones but I’m leaning more towards Collins.

  26. Even the great John Madden screws up once in a while. He recommended Mark Davis hire Reggie McKenzie.
    McKenzie has no business being an NFL GM. Even the super-successful Amazon.com would fail if McKenzie was in charge. McKenzie couldn’t even keep a Seattle based Starbucks from failing, if he was in charge. Cut bait or go 4-12 next 3 years.

  27. For those who thought about shipping the disgruntled LaMichael James to Philadelphia…well forget it. The Eagles just acquired Sproles from the Saints in a trade.

  28. Ok… 1 year deals gor DRC and Steve Smith, and draft their replacements… I think We have something up our sleeve gor the draft

    1. Steele – I hope we get Steve Smith, the future is now!
      BTW, have you ever heard of “The Real Don Steele?” He was a popular (very cool) radio DJ back in the day (oldies rock). Your screen name always reminds me of him.
      He had hot chicks in studio with him sometimes.
      See for yourself :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZoA8te6ahM

      1. No crab. Ive never heard of him. Ill have to check out that link, sounds very howard sternish.. i like howard

      1. I don’t believe DRC is overrated for 3.5-5 mil deal. Big and quick for our scheme. Or Smith. He comes in now, and automatically gives us a deep threat. Even at 35 years old. We will have to agree to disagree on this one

  29. I love it when players accidentally pull back the curtain, even if just for a quick second:

    “The injury I had was actually a quad injury, it was reported as a hip injury, but that’s how they(Patriots) do things.”

    Good stuff.

  30. It seems you can no longer access or at least easily access the archives, specifically from previous months. I see the button on the bottom of the home page that takes you to older topics but to get to a year ago it seems would take quite a while and be cumbersome to do so.

    1. CFC – I hear ya bro….I kind of flaked on my silly “Archive Jive” segment but it would’ve been much more difficult now.
      I miss the “trending now” area.

      1. A lot of guesses and boasts get made that I think should be held up to the light of time to see how they look.

  31. Hilarious that the same people on this board who are calling for us to sign more guys are the same guys who are saying we couldn’t have afforded Revis–and that’s after we’ve already committed $10 mil to the guys we’ve acquired (not including our kicker), and Revis cost only $12 mil. Just delusional.

    1. So when/if one of the 4 guys that we acquired for $10M goes down we still have the other 3 for that money that are contributing to the team. When/if Revis goes down they will receive no value for any of that money spent. Throwing all your eggs in one basket so to speak is how your season ends in November when that player goes down.

      1. Coffee, first of all, Bethea was signed as a starter. So he could just as easily go down as Revis. As for Gabbert and Martin–I don’t like the way they pay, so I don’t believe they can fill in and win games for us.

        Second, we’re the freakin’ Niners. That means we should be getting guys on the cheap–not paying $6.5 mil to a stopgap opening day. If we don’t want to pay big, then hold on to the money and pick up the impact players that didn’t make the first cut (like Michael Bennett last year) on the cheap.

        1. Bethea and Revis is apples to oranges. Not the same position, not the same contract amount. It’s easier to replace a safety then it is a CB.

        2. Second, we’re the freakin’ Niners. That means we should be getting guys on the cheap–not paying $6.5 mil to a stopgap opening day.

          Yep. We should forget what works and overspend on one player while praying that the other positions don’t suffer too badly from a lack of talent.

    2. Yeah, except the 49ers will be bringing in all these players for the same outlay you wanted on Revis.

      The only guys the 49ers sign now will be on low cost deals. They’ll get themselves in a position where they don’t need any rookies to start – though a top CB in the draft would have a good shot, and a top WR would have a shot at the #3 spot. It may not be sexy, and you may not have some new shiny toy to brag about around the office water cooler, but that is smart work by the front office.

  32. Oh, and why am I so upset? Because I love my Niners, and Revis was a Super Bowl-level signing. Even moreso than Bryd.

      1. Steve Smith… It’s funny, I like our WRs aside from the lack of a true deep threat. To me, and boy I know this is opening up a can o’ worms, Crabtree, Boldin, Patton, Vernon are better than what most good teams have already–Pats, Saints, Hawks come to mind–and it’s up to Kaep to take advantage of that talent. Mainly because we do have other needs. I can’t say that Kilgore is a top-level center. I can’t say that we have a RB that scares folks. I can’t say that our interior pass rush will be dominant. And I can’t say that we have lockdown coverage guys.

        So yes, another WR could be helpful. But it would really have to be a low price. And I think it would have to be someone who can stretch the D. We have plenty of guys who can get it done underneath. Ginn is out there. Paul Richardson. And if Steve Smith can still run–maybe reports that he’s lost a step are unfounded–then on the cheap, maybe.

        1. Right on Sully, thanks!……..When it’s all said and done, Niners must subdue Beastmode.
          Home field advantage in playoffs is crucial until we can solve the 12th man.

          1. Sully … I agree with you on Boldin, Crabtree, and Vernon ..
            and I like what I see in Patton … but, durn !! ..

            Sometimes I wish he would room with Kaep
            on the road … (or somethin’)

            just to make Kaep look his way more often !

  33. So two of the three losing teams in the final four (N.E. and Den) have made big splashes in free agency. The 3rd losing team has an empty “Doughboy” swimming pool.

    1. Big no on Smith and Edelman is a year early, we’ll need him next year but don’t have the space to stash him for a season.

  34. The guy I like, who is flying under the radar a little, is center Evan Dietrich-Smith. He was one of the few bright spots for that Packers O-Line last year. And I think he’ll be signed in the $4-mil a year range. He’s durable, has quickness, technique, and is only in his 4th year. But it’s possible the team is sold on Kilgore, which I’m torn about.

    1. Agree 100% on kilgore hesitation, I have to feel though that if the team felt any need to back him up they’d try and resign Goodwin who knows the system rather then go out of house for a fresh face.

      1. Exactly! But on a serious note, the Eagles are coming to town this season and the biggest weapon against Chip Kelley’s hurry-up spread offense is a deep DL/LB rotation. That’s where guys like Carradine, Dial, Williams, Lemonier, and Skuta (if they can afford to keep him) come into play.

  35. Anyone interested in bringing Ted Ginn back to return kicks and add a deep threat to our WR corps? I feel he gets just a little bit better each year. He ran some good routes last year in Carolina. And he’s in the prime of his career at 28.

  36. Wasting coaches’ time is a hidden issue, I think. These guys work 80-hour weeks. Any time they have to spend getting someone new up to speed would be better spent on continuing to improve the games of guys like Kaep, Tank, Reid, Patton, etc….

    I guess that’s what I dislike about the Gabbert deal (along with the $2 mil). If you’re going to mess with Gabbert, why not just re-sign McCoy for less, and you don’t have to waste one second of your time teaching him the offense.

    And I guess that’s what I like about the prospect of bringing back Ginn. He knows the offense AND our return schemes. A rookie WR has to learn everything from scratch–a complex playbook, how to read coverages, how to be a pro, etc. I’m not against drafting one–but I don’t know if any of them will be ready to help us this year.

    1. What you say is true, but I ask myself this: Why would a wide receiver without the measurables of players like Crabtree or Boldin want to play for the Niners? It’s like going to Purgatory, Greg Roman/Jim Harbaugh style. Ginn has experienced this. Maybe they reached out already and he said no. “Fool me once . . .”

    2. The Niners need another WR (and CB and S) on nice affordable 4 year rookie deals. That is the only way to afford the kind of extensions it is going to take to keep most of the talent Baalke drafted in 2010 and 2011 on the team. I will agree with you on the Gabbert deal if the 2 mill is indeed guaranteed. Has that trade been finalized? Is Gabbert in Santa Clara? Otherwise the coaches are always working with 4 qbs through the offseason and into the first part of camp. And please, no more Teddy “Hands”. He isn’t the answer.

    3. Ceiling sully, ceiling. We have to trust Harbaugh. When he gets his hands on a QB and releases him a few months later, you just have to trust that he knows what he is looking for and hasn’t seen enough of it.

      The one time I did questions Harbs a bit though was with BJ Daniels. He looked like the best QB under center all of last preseason IMO.

  37. Blaine Gabbert has completed just 45 percent of his passes between 10 and 20 yards downfield in the NFL. He had the same problem at Missouri.

    1. Out of curiosity, where is Gabbert? Bethea appeared to be in the facility yesterday making the typical media rounds. Is that trade finalized? What is his contract number? I keep googling “Gabbert 49ers” hoping to see something about a renegotiated contract.

      1. Also could you post something new on the 49ers just so I won’t have to keep commenting on a story with Raiders in the title. I’m starting to feel a little dirty.

    2. So, I know you are probably a little bent because Fales is your “Fleener” of 2014, but do you think you know more about QB’s than Harbaugh? If he thinks Gabbert is worth the risk, I’m ok with that given the small investment we made.

        1. Hammer the difference is that Smith cost us a #1 overall pick and he was a “project” that was also a starter. Gabbert cost us nothing and he’s a backup. Huge difference.

          1. bay,

            Smith blah blah blah. Fact of the matter is Smith was free to leave after 2010 and Harbaugh chose him to stay.

            Now, after ripping Smith throughout 2011 and 2012 you are good with Gabbert simply because Harbaugh chose him?

            Isn’t that ironic.

            1. Jack:

              It’s the “do you think you know more about QB’s than Harbaugh?” line that gets me.

              Also, did you mean “hypocritical” when you wrote “ironic”?

              Can you imagine what would happen if Kaepernick got hurt during 2014 and Gabbert played well in his place? And the 49ers used that as leverage against Kaepernick in contract discussions? Heads would explode all over the place.

            2. Nope,
              completely different set of circumstances. For starters, they had to keep Smith in 2010. They had no one else. The way they treated him a season and a half later is proof of that.
              As for GAbbert, I am happy with him coming in because he’s an intriguing project. Former highly touted number one and we got him for nothing and we aren’t talking about him being a starter, he’s a backup.

            1. Better arm and physical skill set to work with, runner etc.

              McCoy never fully recovered from his shoulder injury in the BCS Championship game his senior season at Texas.

              1. Also, Gabbert scored much higher on the Wonderlic.

                Gabbert’s arm strength doesn’t seem to help him much because he’s so inaccurate downfield. But he sure can spin those screen passes.

                Also, Gabbert runs into a lot of sacks. He may have a good 40 time, but he never has struck me as mobile. He gets himself into trouble with his legs and rarely picks up yards on the ground. And rarely looks downfield after he starts to run.

              2. I don’t see a lot of difference in the types of throws he made in that bowl game you linked the other day and the types of throws Kaepernick is asked to make.

              3. I don’t think it’s a fluke that Gabbert has completed less than 50 percent of his passes between 10-and-20 yards downfield in the NFL and in college. That’s Tebow stuff.

              4. Kaepernick also completed less than 50 percent of those throws last season, and over the last two years is only at 51.

                Those throws also accounted for less than 60% of all all attempts last season.

              5. Kaepernick completed 54 percent of his passes between 10-20 yards downfield last season. Gabbert has completed 45 percent of those passes in his NFL career. Tebow completed 42 percent of those passes in 2011.

                I meant to write “between 10-and-20 yards downfield” before. My mistake.

            1. Btw, I only used McCoy as an example of a bad player who knows the system and is cheaper vs. a bad player who doesn’t know the system yet, is more expensive, and cost us a pick. Neither guy, in my opinion, has much of a chance to win an important game for us against the better defenses. In fact, more to the point, both of those guys could do a lot to LOSE a game for us if they absolutely had to be called upon.

              I’d rather shoot for a guy like Shaun Hill who did a great job of moving the ball in his limited opportunities with Detroit. Cerebral, sees the field, gets rid of the ball quickly, and could probably manage a game well enough to allow our stars a chance to win it for us.

  38. So I guess Baalke and Harbaugh, or just Harbaugh, see something in Gabbert that they think they can revive. OK, so show me. I’ll chill through TC and PreSeason, but up to now I’m no fan. In Jax Blaine looked like Painter in Indy did. My admittedly amateur take would be that Charlie Whitehurst would be a better Short Reliever, or Cousins or Ponder or….

  39. Grant, you should have a vote on whether or not we should go back to the old blog format? We should at least have an option. Ihate tthisnew format. It forces you to read every post because only 1 at a ttime are shown. At least provide us the option to go with the older format.

      1. I am a reader who rarely posts, but the new format is driving me away from reading the blog. Especially mobile, when you can get 1 letter ion each line sometimes. Redic.

  40. “I think Gabbert’s physical size and nice throwing “release” may be wowing people, but a closer look at his college performance is likely to point out a future bust in the Matt Leinart mold. Gabbert plays it safe in a spread offense and gets to a 60%+ pass completion rate and has a lower yards per completion metrics than we see from the better QBs. Gabbert has decent games against weak opponents — but he has shown (statistically) that he will wilt under pressure and is potentially not aggressive enough to be an NFL QB.”

    From 2011: http://www.fantasyfootballmetrics.com/Player_News/Content/NFL-Draft_2011_Gabbert_2-17-2011.htm

  41. Looking at the breakdown of Bethea’s contract, it’s essentially a 2 year deal for 9.25 mill. Great deal for the Niners and far less than Whitner is costing the Browns.

    1. Interesting. How do they get good players to agree to stuff like this? For a chance to get a ring? Surely Bethea could have had other suitors.

  42. The 49ers currently sit with roughly $11.9 million in cap space. That number will go down once Dawson’s numbers are finally released.

  43. “Heads would explode all over the place.”

    You mean like the smithers cult did after Kap took his job? Guys like you swore by Harbaugh’s qb genius but questioned it after ol’ blue eyes was not the starter anymore. LOL. Turncoat Hypocrites!

    1. Lou:

      Sorry for not responding to your message sooner, but since you didn’t reply directly to my message, I didn’t see yours until today.

      You might want to check your facts before you level an accusation like that. I have been consistent in deferring to Harbaugh on all things QB-related, and have never questioned his decisions when it comes to QBs. I think you have the hypocrisy thing backwards.

      Do you have anything to say that isn’t supported by made up facts?

  44. Reggie’s trying to work himself out of the doghouse. Tuck and Woodley signed today. Both for less than Houston.

  45. After McKenzie’s trade for a QB last season, it’s no wonder Raider fans are so excited about trading for Schaub. Reggie obviously knows quarterbacks.

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