It made sense that a whopper of a cut was in the offing when the
Raiders waited more than 90 minutes after the deadline to announce
their final roster Saturday. Sure enough, the release of veteran
quarterback Jeff Garcia, a Gilroy native, highlighted the Raiders’
22 player moves in getting down to the league-mandated limit of
Steve Corkran, McClatchy Newspapers
ALAMEDA — It made sense that a whopper of a cut was in the offing when the Raiders waited more than 90 minutes after the deadline to announce their final roster Saturday.
Sure enough, the release of veteran quarterback Jeff Garcia, a Gilroy native, highlighted the Raiders’ 22 player moves in getting down to the league-mandated limit of 53.
The Raiders also parted ways with defensive tackle Terdell Sands, kick returner Justin Miller and safety Rashad Baker, all key players in the past.
But it was the release of Garcia that qualified as the biggest surprise.
The Raiders signed him early in the offseason and anointed him JaMarcus Russell’s mentor and primary backup.
“First and foremost, we’re committed to JaMarcus Russell as our starter,” Raiders coach Tom Cable said in a conference call. “Whether or not (Garcia) was comfortable in his role as the backup, it is what it is.” Garcia said all the right things upon his signing. However, it soon became apparent that he had other intentions, namely starting.
He rarely was seen talking to Russell at practice or in the locker room, and he showed no overt signs of passing on any of the things he learned in his first 10 years in the NFL.
Cable said the solid play of Charlie Frye and Bruce Gradkowski also factored into the decision. He will decide upon a No. 2 in the coming days, he said.
The Raiders gave Sands, 29, a four-year contract extension in 2007 that included $4 million guaranteed. In return, Sands delivered little the past two seasons.
He said before the 2008 season that the death of his mother a year earlier affected his weight and desire to concentrate on football in 2007. Yet, his play didn’t improve much last season.
Sands arrived at Oakland’s minicamp much slimmer than he was at any point during his six-year Raiders career. That gave Cable hope that Sands finally might make good on his sizable contract. It also prompted the Raiders to pay a $1.9 million roster bonus.
Instead, Sands showed little promise in training camp and exhibition games. He became even more expendable with the rapid development of Desmond Bryant.
Bryant was one of two undrafted rookies who made the team. The other is Nick Miller, who played well enough to make the team as a wide receiver and as the potential replacement for Justin Miller.
Justin Miller scored two touchdowns on kick returns last season for the Raiders and has five years’ experience.
Five of the Raiders’ seven 2009 draft picks survived Saturday’s cut.
The five who stuck around are: wide receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey (first round) and Louis Murphy (fourth round), tight end Brandon Myers (sixth round), defensive end Matt Shaughnessy (third round) and safety Mike Mitchell (second round). Linebacker Slade Norris (fourth round) was among the cuts.
Defensive end Stryker Sulak (sixth round) wasn’t offered a contract and was released before camp opened July 28.
It was thought that the Raiders wouldn’t keep a fourth running back, given the presence of Justin Fargas, Darren McFadden and Michael Bush.
Louis Rankin’s impressive play in camp made them reconsider, and he edged out Gary Russell.
“It came down to production,” Cable said. “That was a tough call, no question. We needed to make sure that we had some depth at the kickoff return position.”
Cable also said that Chris Morris beat out Samson Satele for the starting center job.