Leinart or Sorgi?

It is being reported that the Raiders are interested in the services of both Matt Leinart and Jim Sorgi to backup starter Carson Palmer. This backup position has been identified as a need all offseason, but GM Reggie McKenzie waited, knowing that there were many options that could be had for cheaper as OTAs approached. Project Terrelle Pryor and unkown Rhett Bomar are the only other quarterbacks currently on the roster, so it makes sense to be shopping for a veteran backup. Leinart and Sorgi come from different backgrounds but have had similarly unproductive NFL careers. Here’s a look at each guy.

Matt Leinart – Age: 28. Height/Weight: 6’5″, 234 lbs. Drafted: Round 1, Pick 10 of the 2006 NFL Draft

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Leinart had high hopes coming out of USC. He was a Heisman Trophy winner (back-to-back finalist) and National Champion (back-to-back appearances). It all goes downhill from here. He was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals with the hopes that his accuracy and decision-making would make-up for a lack of arm strength. However, he was never able to supplant veteran Kurt Warner in his time in Arizona. He had his chances, but was unimpressive. Leinart spent the last two seasons with the Houston Texans, where he backed up Matt Schaub. In his one chance to prove himself as a starter once again, he suffered a season ending collarbone fracture against the Jaguars in Week 12 of this past season. He’s familiar with Gregg Knapp’s offense, however, and at one time had high potential that has yet to be realized.

Career Stats: 31 games, 57.6% Completion, 3,950 yards passing, 15 TD/20 INT, 71.6 Passer Rating

Jim SorgiAge: 31. Height/Weight: 6’5″, 196 lbs. Drafted: Round 6, Pick 193 of the 2004 NFL Draft

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Sorgi had some success with the Wisonsin Badgers, but was not a highly touted prospect coming out of college. He’s known throughout the NFL as Peyton Manning’s backup; not the best reputation to have. But with that moniker has to come with it some sort of knowledge gained. Surely, six years of clipboard holding made him a student of the game. If nothing else, he is a veteran NFL backup quarterback who can be smart and accurate if he is called upon.

Career Stats: 14 games, 63.5% Completion, 929 yards passing, 6 TD/1 INT, 89.9 Passer Rating

My Take:

While Sorgi’s numbers indicate better (safer) quarterback play, he doesn’t have nearly the sample size. Leinart has vital starting experience, and already has experience in the Gregg Knapp system. Both guys are check-down artists (Leinart: 6.5 ypa, Sorgi: 5.96 ypa) and should not actually see the field. Should Carson Palmer experience an injury (knock on wood), either guy would be a better option in reserve than what is currently on the Raiders’ roster. Leinart seems to be a slightly better option, but what do you think?

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Giordano Re-signs

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The Oakland Raiders announced Monday that they have agreed to bring back safety Matt Giordano. Giordano saw action due to injuries in the secondary last year, and played admirably. In his nine starts, Giordano totaled career highs in tackles, 70, and interceptions, 5. He was one of the few playmakers in a secondary which was shredded time and time again. While a liability at times in coverage, Giordano is a high-effort, athletic player who finds himself around the ball consistently. He is ideally a reserve, but can fill in with the starters if need be.

DE Tollefson a Raider Once Again

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Northern California native and former New York Giant defensive end Dave Tollefson has signed a two-year, $2.5 million deal. Tollefson was a key reserve for the Super Bowl winning Giants, having tallied 5 sacks in a rotational role. He will add to an already talented defensive line, and gives the Raiders defense another pass rusher. Based on comments from the various football sites, Tollefson was a fan favorite who was known as being a high-character and high-motor guy. This signing brings Tollefson full circle; he is from nearby Walnut Creek, CA and was a practice squad player for the Raiders in 2007.

New GM Reggie McKenzie is now six-for-six in signing free agents who he has had visit. This is another solid signing, but also further signifies that the Raiders free-spending days of the past are over. Bringing in good football players at a bargain is what makes teams competitive for years.

Raiders Add Starting Linebacker

The Raiders signed former Colts LB Philip Wheeler Friday to a one-year deal at an undisclosed amount. Wheeler has started 24 games over the past three seasons for Indianapolis, including 84 tackles in 11 starts (this past year. He will likely take the “Sam” linebacker spot vacated by Kamerion Wimbley, who was cut earlier this off-season. While Wheeler does not rush the passer as well as Wimbley, he is a better run defender, and a solid player overall.

This move gives Oakland much needed depth at the linebacker position. Wheeler also offers versatility, as he can play OLB in a 4-3 or ILB in a 3-4. He may prove to play a key role in Dennis Allen’s multiple-look defense. If Wheeler proves to be a good fit, the Raiders can lock him up long-term, as he is only 27 years-old.

Barnes Re-Signs; Lee in, Bush out

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The Raiders have re-signed RT Khalif Barnes. The incumbent starter, Barnes will be pushed by second year player Joe Barksdale. Barnes is big and surprisingly athletic, but has technique issues and too many mental lapses.

Cornerback Pat Lee has also been signed to a 1 year deal. A former second round pick for the Green Bay Packers, Lee has been almost strictly a special teams player. He adds depth to the secondary and coverage unit.

In other news, the Chicago Bears have signed free agent RB Michael Bush to a 4 year, $14 million contract ($7 million guaranteed). The Raiders will now need to find back to sit behind the injury prone Darren McFadden and Taiwan Jones. Bush ran well for the Raiders last year, but seemed to fade down the stretch. Look for Oakland to bring in a cheap veteran or draft a bigger back late.

Satele Won’t Return

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The Raiders’ offensive line picture just became a bit more clear. Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted the team has signed former Raider C Samson Satele to a deal. This loss means Oakland will most likely move forward with second year lineman Stefen Wisniewski at center and recently resigned Cooper Carlisle at left guard. Satele was never remarkable in his time in Oakland, but was a serviceable starter. Satele was arrested last week in Hawaii for disorderly conduct.

Shawntae Spencer signed, Carlislie returns

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Adam Schefter is reporting the Raiders have signed former San Francisco 49er CB Shawntae Spencer. A former 2nd round pick, Spencer has played in 98 games over 8 seasons. The deal is for one year at an undisclosed amount. While not spectacular, Spencer is an experienced, solid pro, and would line up nicely opposite newly acquired Ron Bartell.

Cooper Carlisle has also been resigned at the veteran’s minimum (1 year, $950,000; $550,000 against the cap). It is unclear as to whether or not Oakland will bring in more linemen for competition, but Carlisle at the very least offers depth and plenty of experience.