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Raiders-Bucs Feud Continuing??


The Way We Hear It ? NFL draft

Buccaneers-Raiders rift still brewing, may impact first round

By Nolan Nawrocki
April 5, 2007

The draft content that last year was posted under the banner of our premium, fee-based channel "Draft Inner Circle" will be free this year, posted in the "Draft Extras" channel. This is the second posting in a four-week period that will conclude with our draft analysis. For a complete schedule of postings, click here.

When Jon Gruden left the Raiders after the 2001 season, the split up was acrimonious. Al Davis demanded a king?s ramsom in the form of cash and draft picks in exchange for his head coach. Gruden proceeded to beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl his first year in Tampa. Not long after, Gruden hired Davis? top negotiator, Bruce Allen, away from the Raiders, and the tension only mounted as the two teams continued to play a game of tug-of-war with respect to the Raiders? top resources ? their people ? with several other longtime Raiders employees crossing the country to join Gruden.

With both teams drafting in the top five and again potentially targeting the same player ? Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson ? the feud could escalate in the coming month. Gruden grew enamored with Johnson during the season, when he would bring tape into meetings and show it to his quarterbacks, and he highly covets the difference-making receiver for how he could help the team in the red zone, where they struggled a year ago. Concerns that have arisen with the immaturity of Michael Clayton and the age of Joey Galloway only fuel Gruden's desire, so much so that it is believed that the Bucaneers could potentially move up in the first round to land him.

According to one top-ranking team official, the Raiders have been pursuing two athletic quarterbacks who began their careers in Arizona ? Jake Plummer and Josh McCown. Plummer is more highly sought, but he recently retired after being traded to the Bucs from Denver. McCown remains a backup in Detroit, which holds the second pick and is in the market for a franchise quarterback, as well.

There is the perception in league circles that Allen quickly moved to acquire Plummer for several reasons. First and foremost, the Bucs needed help at quarterback, but having just signed Jeff Garcia and with Chris Simms and Bruce Gradkowski already on the roster, the Buccaneers, some teams strongly believe, were simply acting to corner the market on available quarterbacks and then use their stockpile as leverage with QB-needy teams that precede them in the draft order, while also giving them added ammunition to strike a deal.

By taking Plummer off the market, Tampa Bay could potentially force the Raiders to address their need at quarterback via the draft, essentially pushing Johnson down a slot. Detroit GM Matt Millen, a former Raider himself who is uniquely slotted between the two adversaries, might turn out to be the biggest winner of the high-stakes game of poker being played. Millen, who continues to have ongoing dialogue with Allen, could gain more leverage if Johnson is available at No. 2 and could choose not to deal McCown until after the Raiders make their first selection in order to force the Raiders' hand. He may even have received that free advice, courtesy of Allen.

The Bucs are hoping they do not have to move up and can still land Johnson at No. 4. It remains a possibility. If JaMarcus Russell is selected first overall, team sources in Cleveland say Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson would likely land at No. 3. The question for Tampa Bay then becomes: Does it have to worry about Atlanta, which recently acquired two second-round picks in the Matt Schaub trade and needs receivers, moving up in the draft. Millen is concerned about the degree of scrutiny he would receive if he drafted a receiver in the top 10 for the fourth time in the last five years, and the team currently has too much money invested in the position to select another one so early. In the event a trade is not brokered, that could mean the Lions are left to choose between Clemson DE Gaines Adams, a Rod Marinelli favorite, and Brady Quinn, whom many suspect Millen personally covets. If either scenario takes hold, it would push Johnson to the Bucs, without them having to give up anything.

What could also help the Buccaneers' cause is the recent decision by Lions WR Mike Williams, who has worn on Marinelli, to pull out of the offseason program in Detroit in the hope that the Lions will cut him and allow him to sign with Oakland, his desired destination. That would reunite Williams with new Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin, who coached him at USC. With the addition of another big receiver in Oakland, the option to draft a quarterback who can get on the field now and manage the game, which will not come easy for Russell, could become more attractive.



Dec 24, 2006
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It would be alot more interesting if either team were any good.

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