Pro Bowl cornerback DeAngelo Hall was cut by the Oakland Raiders on Wednesday. Hall, who has had his share of disagreements with coaches and management, was traded to Oakland, from the Atlanta Falcons, on March 20th, 2008. The Raiders gave up a 2nd round pick for Hall and signed him to a 7-year, $70 million dollar contract.
So why would Al Davis release a 24-year old, 2-time Pro Bowler just seven months after signing him to a lucrative deal?
The most popular answer is that the 79-year old Davis is losing his marbles. He's going off the deep end. Punching the ceiling fan. Whatever other euphemism you can think of for 'going senile'.
When I hear a so-called "expert" use that reason to explain Davis' actions, I have to chuckle - snicker, perhaps - because that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, cutting DeAngelo Hall and his massive contract is a stroke of genius.
This move makes it absolutely clear that Al Davis is looking to dump as much cap space as possible by 2010; giving himself enough flexibility to sign LeBron James.
James, who can opt out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers after the 2009-2010 NBA season, is a target of several US and international organizations. These associations have already made preliminary transactions to sure up enough money to sign James - Oakland is just the latest example.
Like the many other organizations that have put themselves in the same boat, the Raiders are struggling, but have a good core to build around.
Quarterback JaMarcus Russell the strongest arm in football and has a great amount of potential. Darren McFadden and Michael Bush are great young running backs. And the defense is supported by defensive back Nnamdi Asomugha and former New York Giants first round pick, William Joseph. A team with so much upside could be extremely appealing to LeBron James.
Also, Al Davis and LeBron James have something in common. They both want to win a championship. The closest James ever came to tasting a championship was when his Cavaliers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA finals. Al Davis hasn't come close to winning it all since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jon Gruden scowled their way past the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII. The two would undoubtedly work together to achieve that goal.
Although one championship would be nice, Davis would not be satisfied. He has stated that he will step down from the Raiders organization when Oakland wins two more Super Bowls. That would make LeBron James work even harder, in hopes of sending Davis into retirement. In the process, James would put up outstanding numbers; making him a lock for the Hall of Fame.
As a stand out high school wide receiver, James would surely assume the same position with the Raiders. LeBron has proven to be a scoring machine; a valuable asset for any wide receiver. Over his career, James has averaged 27.3 points a game.
If the Raiders are guaranteed over 25 points a game, then they would most certainly win the majority of their games, and it would be an immense upgrade from their 13.4 points a game in 2008. If LeBron was on the Raiders now, the team would be in the top six in points per game, instead of 32nd.
At 6'8", 250 lbs. with a 7-foot wingspan and a 44-inch vertical leap, James could outmatch any defensive player. His rebounding numbers support this claim, as he has averaged 6.9 boards over the first four years of his professional career.
He would perform famously with JaMarcus Russell throwing him the ball. Russell, who nearly can throw a football 100 yards, would have a high success rate on long passes, especially with a freak of nature like James to aim for.
The Raiders' playbook would have one main play: a 50+ yard pass to LeBron James, a.k.a. 'The LeBromb'. Once the ball is snapped, James would run to any point past 50 yards and wait. Russell would throw a high strike in James' general vecinity; allowing the 4-time all star to use his physical stature to come away with the pass.
The only thing the Raiders would need to pull off that play with such frequency would be a vastly improved offensive line.
If only they could sign Eddy Curry to play left tackle...
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