Report: Javon Walker offered to refund Al Davis

The Oakland Raiders have made plenty of head-scratching moves since appearing in Super Bowl XXXVII. Too many to count. But it’s difficult to come up with one that bombed more than the addition of wide receiver Javon Walker, who pocketed $17 million for 15 receptions over the course of two seasons.

Walker batted around his two seasons in Silver and Black and more with in an interview in which he said he’s been paid and he’s willing to play for the minimum. It’s an interview worth checking out.

“I was in an unfortunate situation in Oakland where I got put on the backburner,” Walker told the Web site. “A lot of people know that situation when you go to Oakland so it’s not to no surprise. It wasn’t the right situation for me. When I was in Denver I performed. I was in Green Bay I performed, so now you’re trying to tell me that now I’m in Oakland I can’t perform?

“I never really got a fair chance. I’m not the first athlete who went into Oakland and all of a sudden it looked like his talents have disappeared. We can all remember, you know I’m a huge fan, with Randy Moss. People thought Randy Moss was done and look what happens when he decides to leave.”

He’s right about Moss. But the problem for Walker is he hasn’t performed since 2006 in Denver when he had 69 receptions for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns. Nice numbers. Nothing earth shattering. He was seemingly upset about his pay forever too. And then Walker drops this bombshell: He offered to repay Al Davis. Say what?

“ It wasn’t my fault because obviously the Raiders gave (the contract) to me,” Walker said. “Everybody knows how Al Davis is. What fans don’t realize is when I signed that contract I offered to give it back. I don’t take money just to take it. They said no.

“I didn’t go into Oakland like (Bernie) Madoff. Somebody has got to give it to you, and they gave it to me. Last year, they didn’t put me on the field so if anybody “made-off” it was Oakland. People were wondering why I wasn’t dressing, well you know what, I couldn’t tell you. They just decided not to utilize my talent the way it needed to be utilized.”

Walker, who was released earlier this month, said he would take a minimum contract to go out and prove he’s still got it at 31. We don’t see any takers lining up for those services at this point, and he has durability issues as well.

“Come the 2010 season people are going to say ‘Wow, this is the kid we remember,’ and I’m going to sit back and say, ‘Hey, this was always here.’”

We’ll be the first to credit him if that happens. Seems like wishful thinking. Stay tuned.

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Dez Bryant sounds off on pro day workout

Dez Bryant is certainly a target—not only for quarterbacks, but critics as well.

The former Oklahoma State wide receiver sounded off to the Associated Press after his pro day workout on Tuesday—a workout that didn’t exactly include the “wow” factor that many experts were expecting.

“I’m not the type of person that will try to confront somebody, but now I feel like it’s gone too far. It’s gone too far,” Bryant told The Associated Press. “I ain’t never got in trouble with nobody. I never said anything. I don’t say anything wrong to nobody. I’m friendly. This here is too far.”

The criticism of Bryant started pouring in on Tuesday after the wideout turned in 40-yard-dash times of 4.52 and 4.68 seconds—a bit slower than many in attendance were expecting from a guy considered to be the top wide receiver prospect in this year’s draft class.

But it didn’t stop there. Bryant’s excuse for the unimpressive times was that he forgot to bring his best cleats to the workout—a workout of the utmost importance for a young man who hasn’t performed athletically for scouts since his final game at Oklahoma State on September 19.

“What do this got to do with me playing football? Even if I did forget my cleats, what do that have to do with me playing football? I don’t think it has anything to do with me playing football.”

Look, we all know the guy is a player. At 6’2”, 220-pounds, Bryant’s got plenty of tape to back up the fact that he can get the job done on the field.

But this process isn’t just about what a guy can do on the field. It’s also about what type of person he is off it. And what Bryant needs to do is convince at least one football team that he’s capable of contributing on Sundays in a big way long after he puts his John Hancock on a multi-million dollar contract.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

I apologize for the quality of the video, but it doesn’t negate the fact that Bryant’s got football speed.

Pac-10 spring practice preview: USC

USC Trojans
2009: 9-4 (5-4)

So maybe Mitch Mustain will get his chance at quarterback in Los Angeles after all. New USC head coach Lane Kiffin did not go back on his word that Mustain and Matt Barkley would begin the spring on equal footing, as the former Arkansas transfer — who has only 16 pass attempts with the Trojans — received the same number of reps as incumbent starter Barkley when USC opened an intense, no-nonsense spring practice Tuesday on Howard Jones Field.

There’s no question that Mustain possesses starting-caliber talent, as he won all eight of his starts as a true freshman at Arkansas. But just how effective can the senior be after so much time on the sideline? His last significant playing time came with the Razorbacks in 2006. While the prevailing sentiment is that Barkley, who started 12 games and threw for 2,735 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, will ultimately win the job, could Mustain actually outperform Barkley this spring and give Kiffin much to think about all summer before the opening of fall camp?

Barkley appeared in better shape on Tuesday than he was during his freshman season, noting that he dropped a few pounds in order to improve his mobility. He added that he’s not feeling any after-effects from offseason surgery on his right wrist and that he’s looking forward to applying what he learned in 2009 toward the 2010 campaign.

It will be very interesting to see which quarterback has the better spring and gets the starting nod in the annual Trojan Huddle game at the Coliseum on May 1.

Allen Bradford is likely to get the majority of the carries at tailback in the fall, but any coach with C.J. Gable, Curtis McNeal and Marc Tyler on his depth chart will have to find ways to spread the wealth. Because he rushed for 668 yards on 115 carries and added eight touchdowns in ‘09, Bradford earned the right to start off as top dog. But how did Gable only carry the rock 24 times last season? McNeal and Tyler are as talented as they come, so it’ll be intriguing to see how much of an impact they make during spring drills. Look for early enrollee Dillon Baxter to get some reps in the wildcat, as the athlete is expected to play running back and a little receiver. He’ll have to be used in a variety of ways to get onto the field and have his value maximized — especially with an already loaded backfield.

Following the early departure of Damian Williams, Ronald Johnson is expected to be the No. 1 wideout for the Trojans in the fall after he was projected as the team’s deep threat last season. After breaking his collarbone at the end of fall camp, he returned to the field at Notre Dame and amassed 378 yards on 34 catches for the year. Coaches expect a big campaign out of the 6-foot, 190-pound speedster. David Ausberry is as physically gifted as any receiver on the roster but has struggled to catch the ball consistently, and there’s a possibility that the 6-4, 235-pounder could end up at tight end. Brice Butler is a solid route runner, while highly recruited Kyle Prater should get plenty of chances to see the field early. The 6-5 early enrollee made an impression on Tuesday with a couple of one-handed grabs despite being hobbled by a strained hamstring.

One of Kiffin’s main concerns entering spring is the play of the linebacker corps, as the loss of top-caliber talent to the draft and graduation seemed to catch up to the Trojans last season. While Devon Kennard, Chris Galippo and Malcolm Smith officially ended ‘09 as the starting linebackers, spring practice could seriously alter the unit heading into fall camp. Kennard will have an opportunity to wrest the middle linebacker job away from Galippo less than a year after the former defensive end switched to strong-side linebacker. Kiffin believes he could be a special player. Michael Morgan will enter his senior campaign coming off a season in which he led the Trojans in tackles for loss with 13 in nine starts. Juniors Jordan Campbell and Shane Horton combined for four starts while filling in for injured starters last season, so they’ll add to the Trojans’ depth. On a serious note, Jarvis Jones — a former top recruit and key reserve who missed the last five games of the season with a neck injury — may not be able to play football again. Kiffin cited concern over potential permanent damage from a hit or a number of hits as the reason Jones may not suit up.

The Trojans will boast tons of depth on the defensive line, led by junior DEs Malik Jackson and Armond Armstead. Nick Perry tallied eight sacks before slowing down toward the end of the season, while Wes Horton started the first half of the year as Armstead nursed a broken foot. James Boyd and Kevin Greene will also rotate at end. Christian Tupou and Jurrell Casey are the projected starters at defensive tackle, but Loni Fangupo, Da'John Harris and Derek Simmons will look to earn playing time with strong showings in the spring. Without question, this unit will be challenged both mentally and physically by assistant coach Ed Orgeron, who helped the careers of All-Americans Kenechi Udeze and Mike Patterson in his first stint at USC.

Shareece Wright enters his senior season as the only cornerback to start a game last year — and that was in the Emerald Bowl after sitting out the regular season because of academic ineligibility. Junior T.J. Bryant made 22 tackles and deflected three passes, while redshirt sophomore Brian Baucham had three tackles and one deflection. Because of the incredible talent in Kiffin’s first signing class at SC, expect incoming freshmen Anthony Brown, Demetrius Wright and Nickell Robey to push for the starting gig opposite Wright once fall camp begins.

Of course, there’s also that little problem of replacing projected first-round draft pick Taylor Mays, along with fellow safety Will Harris. However, the Trojans may be able to soften the blow with good depth, as six players will compete for the two starting spots. The problem is that most of the combatants are banged up. Junior Drew McAllister likely would have had an edge for the starting free safety job, with Marshall Jones, T.J. McDonald, Byron Moore and Jawanza Starling as his primary competition. But after undergoing hip surgery, McAllister will likely miss all of spring practice. Starling is playing baseball for the Trojans, while McDonald recently underwent ankle surgery. Whoever is the healthiest may have a leg up at least going into fall, when the rest of the recruits arrive on campus and the injured players are healthy.

So it’s finally here — Lane Kiffin’s time has arrived to put his stamp on the USC Trojans on the field. Judging from the first day of practice, his squad will be taking a business-like approach to 2010. Practices won’t be so open to the public, toughness and discipline will be constantly preached, and mistakes won’t be tolerated. Kiffin wants the Trojans to be a smarter football team, which would be a welcome trait after USC had the 33rd most penalties per game in the nation last season.

At the end of the day, however, it won’t matter how USC practices, who plays where on the field or how many style points the Trojans rack up during Pac-10 play. It’s about winning — the very thing Trojans fans have been accustomed to in the past decade, and the very thing Kiffin plans on accomplishing in L.A.

Follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

How McNabb’s roster bonus affects a trade

Why would the Eagles trade Donovan McNabb?

Although this is a major organizational decision to move on from the team’s signature player for the past decade, it appears to be more about Kevin Kolb than McNabb.

The Eagles, like the Packers two years ago with Aaron Rodgers, have identified their future at the position and are prepared to move on with that player. Kolb has the confidence of the coaches and management that he’s ready to assume the role of leading the team.

Like the Packers two years ago, the team would not be prepared to move on from their longtime fixture at quarterback if there was not a strong option. It’s not like the Packers or the Eagles would have to resort to a stopgap veteran while they looked for a successor. The successors were/are already in the building.

Teams evolve, and it’s hard to know the right time to make a change. The Eagles have apparently decided the time is now.

Why is McNabb’s contract a big part of any trade negotiations?

For the Eagles to consummate a trade, there will be two negotiations in play simultaneously. As with the Jason Peters negotiations mentioned on Monday, there are two parts to the deal.

First will be the negotiations between the Eagles and the acquiring club over the compensation for McNabb. Related to that, however, is the financial compensation for McNabb beyond 2010. Were a team to acquire him without a contract extension, it would, in effect, be renting him for the season while preparing another player for the future.

Acquiring McNabb without an accompanying contract extension would (or should) merit far less in trade compensation to the Eagles than acquiring him with an extension, thereby securing McNabb as a long-term solution at quarterback. That is, of course, unless the acquiring team is the Raiders.

Why would the Raiders acquire McNabb without a contract extension?

As we know, the Raiders tend to do things a bit differently, perhaps for that reason alone. Prior to last season, they acquired defensive end Richard Seymour from the Patriots in the last year of his contract and did not secure, or even attempt to secure, a contract extension. Rather, they placed an exclusive franchise tag on Seymour for 2010 and now have Seymour’s services for at least two years – 2009 and 2010 – and about $16 million in exchange for the 2011 first-round pick they surrendered. Using that as a guide, the Raiders might be the one team that would trade for McNabb without an extension.

With JaMarcus Russell due $9.45M this year and McNabb due $11.2M, the Raiders would have $20.65M in cash expense to two quarterbacks, along with the second-round tender signed by Bruce Gradkowski of $1.76M. If they decide to part ways with Russell, they would be on the hook for $3M of his contract, the amount guaranteed for this year, after having paid Russell $36.35M since he arrived in 2007. There may never have been so much paid for so little in the history of the NFL.

Why is McNabb’s roster bonus the defining date for any trade from the Eagles?

As part of a renegotiation last year, the Eagles gave McNabb significant raises from what was due for 2009 and 2010 without any additional years added. Here are some particulars from McNabb’s contract adjustment (it was not an extension) in June of last year:

• McNabb’s 2009 salary of $9.2M was guaranteed, and $3.5M of his 2010 salary of $5M was guaranteed.

• $500,000 ($31,250 per game) of 45-man active roster bonuses were added for both 2009 and 2010.

• $1M ($500,000 per season) of potential Super Bowl incentives were added.

• A $2.8M roster bonus in 2009 was added.

• A $6.2M roster bonus in 2010 was added.

Unlike many large roster bonuses, which are due on or around the first day of the new league year – usually in early March – McNabb’s bonus is due on an express date two months after the start of the 2010 league year, May 5. Obviously, this date was put in to allow the Eagles to evaluate their options and situation after the 2010 draft. Simply, the later the date for the earning of the roster bonus, the more options they may have, or so they would think.

The quid pro quo of the June adjustment was that McNabb was able to have raises in both years with no strings attached in terms of commitment beyond 2010, while the Eagles have maintained the flexibility of paying-as-they-go to McNabb, keeping options open for a future where all of their quarterbacks have expiring contracts.

The May date – as opposed to early March, as in the Michael Vick contract — was a benefit for the team, allowing the flashpoint timing of the draft to sort out their situation. The issue will take on greater meaning if the draft passes with May 5 hot on its heels. Writing a check for $6.2M raises the stakes, and that must happen if McNabb is still an Eagle on Cinco de Mayo.

Again, we will see, with a date now certain by which McNabb’s home team for the upcoming season will be known.

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Report: Thomas runs 4.37 at Texas pro day

Texas safety Earl Thomas (5-10 5/8, 202) impressed several NFL scouts at the combine last month when he turned in a 4.48 40-yard-dash.

At his pro day on Wednesday, Thomas stepped it up again as the 20-year-old clocked a blazing 4.37 in the 40, according to Gil Brandt of

Here are some of the other notable 40 times from Texas’ pro day, per Brandt:

Wide receiver Jordan Shipley (5-11

Gaither signs RFA tender with Eagles

Omar Gaither has signed his restricted free agent tender with the Philadelphia Eagles.

He was the starting weak-side linebacker last season before Akeem Jordan took over for him after he suffered a Lisfranc sprain in his foot that knocked him out for the remainder of the year. The Eagles had tendered him at the original round of compensation level, which for Gaither meant a fifth-round draft pick.

Gaither made 38 tackles and had 1

The NFP Super 30

With more pro days comes more reshuffling in the NFP’s newest Super 30, as we hit the home stretch toward draft day.

1. DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska (6-4, 302)
Potential blue-chip defensive tackles are tough to come by, and Suh grades out as this year’s best player.

2. DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma (6-4, 298)
McCoy has the ability to consistently beat blocks vs. both the run and pass game and is one of the few instant impact-caliber defenders in this year’s draft.

3. S Eric Berry, Tennessee (5-11, 203)
One of the most instinctive safeties to come along in years; looks like a real ball-hawk type of defensive back at the next level.

4. C Maurkice Pouncey, Florida (6-5, 304)
Exhibits a unique combination of power and fluidity for his size and is capable of starting from day one and becoming one of the premier players at this position in the NFL.

5. ILB Rolando McClain, Alabama (6-4, 256)
Possesses an impressive athletic skill set for the position and has the ability to instantly contribute in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme.

6. TE Aaron Hernandez, Florida (6-2, 250)
A potential dynamic threat in the pass game at the next level in the Dallas Clark-type mold.

7. OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State (6-5, 302)
Looks effortless in pass protection, plays with great length and is the draft’s most NFL-ready left tackle.

8. RB Jahvid Best, California (5-10, 199)
The one guy everyone seems to have forgotten because of concussion issues. But he’s a big-play threat every time he touches the ball and is a much better runner between the tackles than given credit for.

9. OG Mike Iupati, Idaho (6-5, 330)
Makes everything look so easy inside. Possesses an impressive blend of size, power and fluidity for the position and looks like one of the better offensive guard prospects to come along in years.

10. RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson (5-11, 195)
A similar prospect to Cal’s Jahvid Best, but he seems to be getting more attention because of a possible East Coast bias. Looks like a Felix Jones-type back at the next level.

11. WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State (6-2, 220)
Bryant isn’t a 4.6 guy on tape — like he ran Tuesday at this pro day — and straight-line speed isn’t the concern I have with him. It’s his work rate and preparation. How hard did he really train for his pro day, and is he willing to put in the work needed to be great in the NFL? Those are questions I have.

12. QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (6-4, 236)
He was absolutely brilliant at his pro day this week, displaying the accuracy, arm strength and frame to project as a potential franchise quarterback.

13. OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa (6-6, 312)
Never quite regained his form from 2008, but he now looks healthy and is certainly capable of anchoring the left side of an NFL offensive line for years.

14. DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech (6-3, 266)
Possesses the tools to get after the quarterback in a variety of ways off the edge and looks like an ideal fit as an every-down defensive end in a 4-3 scheme.

15. DT Jared Odrick, Penn State (6-5, 301)
Plays bigger than his frame indicates and does a great job firing off the snap, gaining initial leverage and finding the ball inside. Has the versatility to play as a three or five technique in the NFL, which further adds to his value.

16. CB Kyle Wilson, Boise State (5-10, 186)
Showcases impressive balance and footwork in and out of his breaks and is as polished as any cornerback in this year’s class. Looks ready to compete for an NFL starting job from day one.

17. OG/OT John Jerry, Ole Miss (6-6, 332)
Possesses impressive lateral quickness and athleticism for a man his size; looks like a Leonard Davis-type guard in the NFL.

18. CB Joe Haden, Florida (5-11, 190)
An athletic, long-armed corner who has the burst to consistently click and close on the football. However, he has some spots in his game that need polish when asked to turn and run.

19. OLB Jerry Hughes, TCU (6-2, 255)
An ideal 3-4 OLB prospect who has the first step, body control and short-area quickness to beat blocks and get after the passer in a variety of ways off the edge.

20. DT Brian Price, UCLA (6-2, 300)
A powerful interior lineman who does a great job firing off the snap on time inside and using his length to fight his way into the backfield. Looks like a disruptive force at the next level as a one-gapping nose.

21. OLB/DE Brandon Graham, Michigan (6-1, 263)
One of the most NFL-ready players in the draft. Possesses only an above-average first step, but it’s his power, leverage and suddenness on contact that make him so tough to block off the edge. Has the versatility to play a 3-4 OLB or 4-3 DE.

22. OT Charles Brown, USC (6-5, 292)
He not only exhibits the footwork to consistently mirror in pass protection, but he’s also very natural on the move in the run game and looks ideally suited to play left tackle in a zone-blocking scheme.

23. OC Matt Tennant, Boston College (6-4, 300)
He isn’t the sexiest of prospects, but he’s a tough, technically sound center who looks capable of coming in and starting from day one.

24. FS Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech (6-1, 210)
A talented ball-hawking safety with impressive instincts and range in the center field-type role. Projects as a potential impact-caliber defensive back.

25. RB Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech (5-11, 230)
A violent runner who exhibits a good feel between the tackles and has the initial burst to separate from defenders into the second level. Will only get better running in a more traditional NFL offense.

26. DT Terrence Cody, Alabama (6-4, 349)
He might have some weight issues, but all the guy does is make everyone around him better; looks like an ideal 3-4 nose tackle who can anchor a defense inside.

27. WR Arrelious Benn, Illinois (6-1, 219)
Isn’t the most explosive vertical threat, but he knows how to separate underneath, is a load to bring down after the catch and might be the most NFL-ready wideout in this year’s class.

28. CB Devin McCourty, Rutgers (5-11, 193)
A tall, well-built cornerback with good physicality, balance and footwork for the position. Looks comfortable in both press and off-man and projects as a potential starter early in his career.

29. DT Dan Williams, Tennessee (6-2, 327)
Possesses an impressive lower body and knows how to disengage at the point and make plays away from his frame. However, he doesn’t display the type of power to consistently hold up vs. the double team to call him an elite prospect.

30. OLB Daryl Washington, TCU (6-2, 230)
Makes plays sideline to sideline, showcases better instincts than given credit for and knows how to tackle in space and in a phone booth. An ideal 4-3 weak-side linebacker in the NFL who should mature into a starter early in his career.

Follow me on Twitter: WesBunting

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Clausen is lining up the meetings

As the Sam Bradford pro day hype begins to subside (which I realize is a debatable statement), we can all turn our attention to the next best quarterback on the board: Jimmy Clausen.

Tweeting machine Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that the Notre Dame signal-caller is scheduled to have private workouts with the Washington Redskins and Jacksonville Jaguars in South Bend following his pro day on April 9.

The Redskins currently hold the fourth overall pick in April’s draft, while the Jaguars are scheduled to select from the ten spot.

But that’s not all. In addition to workouts with the ‘Skins and Jags, Clausen will meet with personnel from the Buffalo Bills (ninth pick), St. Louis Rams (first pick) and Cleveland Browns (seventh pick) sometime after his pro day.

That’s five teams showing interest and five teams that are currently selecting in the top ten.

So maybe the question isn’t how far Clausen could fall, but how high will he go?

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

JaMarcus Russell does Vegas (again)

While some NFL quarterbacks spend their offseason working with their receivers (i.e. Donovan McNabb), others enjoy a more relaxing approach.

Put Raiders signal-caller JaMarcus Russell in the second category.

Amid reports that Oakland is making a push for McNabb, Russell was spotted in Las Vegas early Saturday morning where he checked out a Jay-Z concert and hit the craps tables, according to (They’ve got a picture of the big man rolling dice, which you can check out HERE).

Russell appears to be a fan of Sin City, as reports surfaced back in January that the quarterback missed the Raiders’ final team meeting because he was busy hanging out in Vegas.

The good news for Raiders fans is that pool season just kicked off in Vegas, meaning Russell may have some extra motivation to slim down from the 290 pounds he is reportedly tipping the scales at.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh