Raiders, QB Russell closer to deal

JaMarcus Russell, RaidersThe end is near….the end of the Oakland Raiders-JaMarcus Russell standoff, that is. David White of the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that representatives of both the first-round draft pick and the Raiders met on Friday, with a source stating that both sides are “close” to getting the quarterback signed. Both sides worked into late Friday night to try to settle any differences on the contract that is believed to be $62 million over six years.

The main obstacles in the negotitations are the amount and conditions on the guaranteed money in the contract. With that in mind, the Raiders have only $2.975 million for salary for Russell – the amount representing what is left in the “rookie pool”. Currently, Russell’s agents are asking for $32 million in guaranteed money; typically that money is performance-based, based on such criteria as number of games played and/or number of snaps taken. The $32 million, should it be accepted, would surpass the rookie record of $27 million currently held by Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

If the deal is done, the Raiders would have to decide which QB to let go. In Daunte Culpepper’s case, he’d be due his $3.2 million salary should he remain on the Raiders roster for the season opener on Sunday. But since he is not due to start that game, the team may want to move him in order to save around $2.5 million in roster bonus money. On the other hand, QB Andrew Walter could also be removed form the roster upon Russell’s signing, since Russell is considered the Raiders’ QB of the future. In addition, the team can request and get a 2-week roster exemption when they sign Russell, which would allow the Raiders some time to shop around their non-starters to teams who may lose a QB to injury the first few games into the season.

My money goes towards Walter being released once Russell is signed. Unfortunately for him, he never really got a real chance to prove himself in Oakland and hopefully can resurrec thimself with another team very soon. So expect a QB rotation of Culpepper, Josh McCown and Russell. Even if Russell does get signed, he wouldn’t be any more than the 3rd-string QB this season.

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