|Deal with Russell could be close as Raiders meet with QB for third time in 4 days|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 10 September 2007 14:23|
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -Oakland Raiders officials met with representatives for holdout quarterback JaMarcus Russell for the third time in four days Monday, leading coach Lane Kiffin to say the contract dispute with the No. 1 overall draft pick could be resolved quickly.|
The two sides met Friday and Saturday in the Bay Area before taking a day off for Oakland's season opener Sunday against the Detroit Lions. There were more meetings held Monday and a deal could be finalized soon. Before the weekend, the two sides had met only once in person since the start of training camp.
``It just continues to sound like they are getting closer and closer,'' Kiffin said. ``It could be today. You just never know. I know that the sides are as close as they've ever been.''
Kiffin said he would not be surprised to see the deal get done this week, ending the longest holdout for a No. 1 overall pick since 1986. Russell's agent, Eric Metz, has not publicly commented on the talks and did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Russell is believed to be asking for about $31 million in guaranteed money, which would be a record for a rookie. The Lions gave No. 2 pick Calvin Johnson $27.2 million in guarantees this year and top pick Mario Williams got $26.5 million in guaranteed money a year ago.
The last top pick to miss a game was Bo Jackson, who sat out the entire 1986 season after being drafted first overall by Tampa Bay. Jackson chose to play baseball instead, and was eventually drafted a year later in the seventh round by the Raiders.
The last first-round pick not to be signed by the season opener was offensive lineman Bryant McKinnie, who missed the first eight games in 2002 after being selected with the seventh overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings.
Even if the sides do reach a deal this week, Russell will not be able to contribute much to the Raiders anytime soon. He has missed all of training camp and the exhibition season and will have a difficult time catching up on the lost time.
That means that Josh McCown will remain the quarterback for the foreseeable future. McCown was 30-for-40 for 313 yards and two touchdowns in the 36-21 loss to the Detroit Lions. He also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble in the closing minutes with the Raiders trailing by eight points.
Kiffin kept his decision to start McCown over Daunte Culpepper in the season opener a secret until right before game time, hoping to gain a competitive advantage by making the Lions prepare for two quarterbacks. He will not use the same kind of subterfuge this week, announcing Monday that McCown will start against the Denver Broncos.
``I thought Josh managed the game extremely well,'' Kiffin said. ``A bunch of little things he did really well, as far as we didn't have a wrong formation all day, we didn't have a missed audible all day. He moved us really well at times. ... I thought he played really well.''
The other starting spot Kiffin kept secret before the game was at center, where former Pro Bowler Jeremy Newberry beat out incumbent Jake Grove for the starting spot. But Newberry pulled his hamstring on the first drive and did not return to the game.
Newberry, who played in only 11 games the past three seasons because of various injuries, had never hurt his hamstring before. He tried to stay in the game despite the injury, but left after failing to realize McCown was in the shotgun on the final play of the opening drive.
``I should have come out of the game but I was like, 'Ah, maybe this thing will lighten up,''' Newberry said. ``I didn't even hear shotgun. I was just trying to get to the line without my leg locking up on me. I should have came out of the game before the fourth play, I should have.''
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