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NFL Team Report - Oakland Raiders - INSIDE SLANT
A soft market had Charles Woodson considering something he wouldn't have dreamed of a few months ago: finishing his career where he started it. And that's exactly what happened late Tuesday when the Raiders announced a contract agreement on a one-year deal had been reached.
There were reports the deal is worth $4.3 million and includes a $700,000 signing bonus, but that total figure likely includes incentives.
When the Green Bay Packers released Woodson following the season, he initially said he was looking for a contender for a chance at one last Super Bowl ring.
But with few teams in the market for a 36-year-old safety who's had two broken collarbones in the past three seasons, Woodson his stance.
"When this process first started out, that was my thing. I wanted to be on a contender," Woodson told the NFL Network. "I know I'm getting toward the end of my career. But at this point, I want to play football. If it's a rebuilding stage at this point, and that's the circumstances that I have to play under, then that's what I'm going to do."
Woodson visited the team's Alameda facility on Tuesday. Fans mounted a campaign on social media to greet Woodson and convince him to return to the Raiders, where he was a standout cornerback.
Woodson tweeted, "Thanks #RaiderNation for all the love. Now dust off your 24 jerseys or buy another one."
When Woodson left the team facility, there were still about 30 fans waiting and cheering. After signing some autographs, he said, "Sorry I can't get to 'em all. Don't worry. I'll be around."
Over the weekend at a benefit for the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan, Woodson discussed the possibility of returning to Oakland with reporters.
"It would be a really big thing to go back to Oakland being that I played there most of my career," Woodson said. "I played there eight years and Green Bay seven. So I spent most of my career in Oakland and I still have a lot of friends there. I still know people in the organization."
Woodson also has a relationship with Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, who was a personnel executive in Green Bay when Woodson went there as a free agent in 2006.
After being released by the Raiders, Woodson visited the 49ers and Broncos, but wasn't given a sufficient contract offer. Terms of his deal with the Raiders are unknown.
Michael Huff, who would have returned to free safety as the starter, was instead released when he declined to take a pay cut. The Raiders signed free agent Usama Young in the offseason and he is currently running with the first team alongside strong safety Tyvon Branch.
"I don't fit into one particular scheme," Woodson said. "I can play the game of football and it really doesn't matter whether it's man defense, zone, 4-3, 3-4. I can play this game so that really doesn't matter."
Raiders coach Dennis Allen was non-committal about signing Woodson.
"I want to do anything we can to get this team better," Allen said. "We'll see how the process goes."
Quarterback Matt Flynn, who played four seasons with the Packers before moving on to Seattle last season, endorsed bringing Woodson aboard if the front office thinks it's the right thing to do.
"I've spent four years with Charles. Everybody knows he's a great player, but he's also a great man, a great teammate, a great leader," Flynn said. "The front office is going to make the right decision about what they think is going to be best for us going forward ...we'll see how it plays out."
Said Branch: "He's a great teammate, a great competitor. But right now I'm focused about the guys we've got on the field."
--In a game against the Chicago Bears last December, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe covered the Pro Football Hall of Fame patch on his jersey with a post-it that read "Vote Ray Guy," in protest of the Hall's 50th anniversary celebrations because no pure punters are in the Canton shrine.
Now Kluwe is the punter on the team for which Guy played. The Oakland Raiders confirmed Friday they signed the controversial free-agent punter who spent the past eight years with the Vikings.
Kluwe already made it clear that the only punting he will do is on the football field. When it comes to the social issues for which he is infamously passionate -- especially same-sex marriage and equality in sports -- the vociferous Kluwe will continue to attack as he sees fit through social media.
Originally signed as a free-agent rookie out of UCLA by the Seattle Seahawks in 2005, Kluwe played in 127 career games in his eight years with Minnesota. He holds the franchise record with a 44.4-yard average (623 punts, 27,683 yards). His net average of 37.2 yards is second in Vikings history.
"I'm excited to be an Oakland Raider and be playing in California," Kluwe told FOX Sports. "Now, my family can actually come to games. ... Hopefully, I'll be able to play for the next seven years and end my career in California."
The Raiders needed a punter to replace Shane Lechler, who signed a three-year contract with the Houston Texans, after breaking many of Guy's records. Lechler is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and had two of the top four punting averages in NFL history -- 51.1 yards in 2009 and 50.8 yards in 2009.
Kluwe told FOX Sports he intends to remain a vocal advocate of equality in sports and beyond.
"I'm still going to be myself socially and continue to tweet and interact with my fans," Kluwe said.
Kluwe says he already has his eye on California's Proposition 8 that was passed by voters in 2008 and limits the state to recognize only marriages between a man and a woman. The legality of the law was argued in the U.S. Supreme Court in March and a ruling is expected next month. Kluwe says if the measure is not repealed he will address it.
NFL Team Report - Oakland Raiders - NOTES, QUOTES
--The Raiders will have as many as eight new starters on defense and underwent significant roster turnover in the offseason.
Asked if he knew the names of all his teammates, safety Tyvon Branch said, "You know what? I won't sit here and lie to you all and say I do. It's still a learning process, but we're building right now. I know all the defensive guys, but the offensive guys I don't know 'em all yet."
--Converted running back Taiwan Jones, who played sparingly during his first two seasons on offense, spent his first full practice at cornerback.
Coach Dennis Allen liked Jones' speed and his aggressive play as a leading tackler on special teams and talked to him about switching from offense to defense during the offseason.
"DA called me and he asked me how would I feel about making the change to defense and I told him, at first I thought I would be upset because I couldn't show everybody what kind of running back I could be but really my mindset is, 'Whatever I can do to help the team,'" Jones said. "I'm a competitor and I like to compete so I'm just glad I'm on the team so I'm going to work hard wherever he needs me."
Jones said he thought playing cornerback would extend his career.
--Kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who normally does not attend voluntary sessions, was in attendance at the first OTA and has been regularly attending the offseason program.
"I called him really at the start of the offseason program and kind of laid out a plan for him," Allen said. "He won't be here for every single OTA, but we have a plan for him.
"The great thing about it is he wanted to, it wasn't something he fought."
--Players who were unable to practice included weak-side linebacker Miles Burris (knee), return specialist Josh Cribbs (knee), tight end John Kasa (hamstring) and cornerback Tracy Porter (calf).
Quarterback Kyle Padron and running back Deonte Williams did not attend as per NFL rules because their schools are on the quarter system and their classes have not graduated.
QUOTE TO NOTE: Reggie and his group have done a great job getting the type of people we want. Now we have to put the pieces of the puzzle together and formulate the picture." -- Raiders coach Dennis Allen.
NFL Team Report - Oakland Raiders - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The addition of Sio Moore adds to a revamped position group that also includes 2012 weak-side starter Miles Burris and unrestricted free agent signings Nick Roach, Kevin Burnett and Kaluka Maiava.
It also fuels speculation that the Raiders, who are still a bit light on defensive ends, could end up using a lot of 3-4 alignments. Allen won't reveal the Raiders' plans, saying the plan is to be multiple and will be dictated by personnel and putting players in their best position to make plays.
A closer look at Raiders' picks:
Round 1/12 - D.J. Hayden, CB, 5-11, 191, Houston
Scouting department regarded Hayden as the top cover corner in the draft and loves his ability to make plays on the ball in the air. Projected as an immediate starter. Serious medical issue (torn vein leading to heart) has been cleared by medical staff.
Round 2/42 - Menelik Watson, T, 6-5, 310, Florida State
Unique athletic background for a raw, multi-skilled player who could challenge for starting job on right side with some polish and rapid improvement. Raiders believe he has the passion and drive to be a quick learner and contribute quickly.
Round 3/66 - Sio Moore, OLB, 6-0, 245, Connecticut
Projected as an outside linebacker by coach Dennis Allen although he's played all over, Moore caught the eye of coaching staff at the Senior Bowl, where Oakland coached the North team. Plays with a chip on his shoulder and a mean streak.
Round 4/112 - Tyler Wilson, QB, 6-2, 215, Arkansas
Going into a situation where quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Terrelle Pryor have a combined three NFL starts, and with the Raiders implementing a new offense, Wilson has a chance to compete for starting job. Battle-tested in difficult 4-8 final season.
Round 6/172 - Nick Kasa, TE, 6-6, 269, Colorado
A part-time player as a defensive end for three seasons, Kasa requested a move to offense and has made great strides. Big enough to be a legitimate in-line blocker and fast enough to have caught a 70-yard touchdown pass.
Round 6/181 - Latavius Murray, RB, 6-2, 223, Central Florida
Averaged 5.4 yards per carry in his career, Murray has the size, speed and power to compete with free-agent acquisition Rashad Jennings to be the backup for starter Darren McFadden. Has a nose for the end zone, with 19 touchdowns as a senior.
Round 6/184 - Mychal Rivera, TE, 6-3, 242, Tennessee
In a depleted position, Rivera could be a complement for Kasa as a receiving tight end. Has superior receiving skills and can be put in motion or split wide. Finished senior season with 36 receptions for 562 yards and five touchdowns.
Round 6/205 - Stacy McGee, DT, 6-3, 303, Oklahoma
A head-scratcher in that McGee was an under-achiever with a rap sheet (a citation for marijuana, a DUI arrest) and drafted by a team that is stressing character. McGee had 2.5 career sacks but had a reputation for playing well in big games.
Round 7/209 - Brice Butler, WR, 6-3, 205, San Diego State
The son of NFL veteran corner Bobby Butler transferred from USC to San Diego State after graduating and caught 24 passes for 347 yards and four touchdowns. Raiders receivers coach Ted Gilmore was his first receivers coach at USC and pushed for him.
Round 7/233 -- David Bass, DE, 6-3, 262, Missouri Western
A finalist for the Gene Upshaw award as the best lineman in Division II, Bass had 40.5 career sacks, 11.5 as a senior and 56 career tackles for losses. Could figure immediately as a rush end given the Raiders lack of depth at the position.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYERS: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (7)
--G Cooper Carlisle moved to left guard after accepting a reduced contract and the Raiders will be looking to get younger and stronger at the position this season.
--LB Omar Gaither ended up being the starting middle linebacker in the 4-3 defense after the Raiders demoted Rolando McClain and is looked at as a reserve player at best.
--S Matt Giordano ended up starting most of the season after Michael Huff was moved to cornerback in Week 3, wants to return, and is at his best in a reserve role.
--WR Derek Hagan found himself pushed aside for younger, more physically talented receivers even though his professionalism and route-running were top-notch.
--QB Matt Leinart struggled after replacing the injured Carson Palmer in Week 16 and gave way to Terrelle Pryor in the regular-season finale. He's not a change for the system change to more dropback passing off play-action.
--DT Richard Seymour missed eight games with a hamstring strain, and although both sides have said the right things, both will be relieved that their relationship is over.
--CB Shawntae Spencer was lost in Week 3 with a serious foot sprain and never got well enough to return, eventually ending the season on injured reserve and in all probability looking for a new team in 2013.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--WR Duke Calhoun (not tendered as ERFA).
--T Zach Hurd (not tendered as ERFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHT FREE AGENTS: None.
--CB Phillip Adams: Potential RFA; $650,000/1 yr.
--T Khalif Barnes: UFA; terms unknown.
--LB Kaelin Burnett: ERFA; terms unknown.
--CB Coye Francies: Not tendered as ERFA; $630,000/1 yr.
--CB Joselio Hanson: UFA; $905,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
--G Alex Parsons: ERFA; terms unknown.
--CB Brandian Ross: ERFA; terms unknown.
--RB Jeremy Stewart: ERFA; terms unknown.
--T Alex Barron: FA; $715,000/1 yr.
--LB Kevin Burnett: FA Dolphins; $3.6M/2 yrs.
--DE Andre Carter: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR/KR Joshua Cribbs: UFA Browns; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--QB Matt Flynn (trade Seahawks).
--DE Jason Hunter: UFA Broncos; terms unknown.
--CB Mike Jenkins: UFA Cowboys; terms unknown.
--RB Rashad Jennings: UFA Jaguars; terms unknown.
--P Chris Kluwe: FA Vikings; terms unknown.
--LB Kaluka Maiava: UFA Browns; $6M/3 yrs, $2.035M SB.
--TE Jeron Mastrud: Not tendered as RFA by Dolphins; terms unknown.
--CB Tracy Porter: UFA Broncos; $2.5M/1 yr.
--LB Nick Roach: UFA Bears; $13M/4 yrs, $5M guaranteed.
--DT Pat Sims: UFA Bengals; $1.5M/1 yr, $250,000 SB.
--S Reggie Smith: FA; terms unknown.
--DT Vance Walker: UFA Falcons; $1.3M/1 yr.
--S Usama Young: FA Browns; $985,000/1 yr, $100,000 SB/$100,000 WO/$65,000 RB.
--DT Desmond Bryant: UFA Browns; $34M/5 yrs, $15M guaranteed.
--RB Mike Goodson: UFA Jets; $6.9M/3 yrs.
--WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (released).
--S Michael Huff (released/post-June 1 designation).
--DT Tommy Kelly (released).
--P Shane Lechler: UFA Texans; $5.5M/3 yrs, $1M SB.
--LB Rolando McClain (released).
--S Mike Mitchell: UFA Panthers; $840,000/1 yr.
--TE Brandon Myers: UFA Giants; terms unknown.
--S Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (released).
--QB Carson Palmer (traded Cardinals).
--DE Matt Shaughnessy: UFA Cardinals; 1M/1 yr.
--TE Mickey Shuler (relased).
--DE Dave Tollefson (released).
--LB Philip Wheeler: UFA Dolphins; $26M/5 yrs, $7M SB/$13M guaranteed.