Raiders agree to one-year deal with Lelie

Updated: September 1, 2008, 6:09 PM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

In need of downfield speed for their passing offense, the Oakland Raiders reached a one-year agreement with Ashley Lelie.

Lelie, 28, was cut Saturday by the San Francisco 49ers when they decided to go with five receivers instead of six. Though several teams were interested, the Raiders made the convincing argument that allowed him to stay in the Bay Area.

He brings a 17.2 career receiving yard average to a team that had trouble this summer finding receivers who could separate from cornerbacks. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Lelie was a former first-round pick of the Denver Broncos. He played four seasons in Denver and then had one-year stops in Atlanta and San Francisco. He's had 43 starts during his career, but he started only three games for the 49ers last season and caught 10 passes for 115 yards.

His best season was in 2004, when he caught 54 passes for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns for the Broncos. He hopes his return to the AFC West will bring back some of those memories.

The Raiders do not need to make a corresponding roster move to make room for Lelie until Wednesday, spokesman John Herrera said.

Lelie signed a two-year, $4.3 million deal with San Francisco last year, including a $2 million signing bonus, but he made little impact on his third NFL team. Lelie had just 10 receptions for 115 yards last season while struggling with injuries including a strained quadriceps, and the former first-round pick never emerged as the deep threat San Francisco needed.

Lelie then missed most of the 49ers' training camp this season with a strained calf, watching from the sideline as Jason Hill and rookie Josh Morgan moved past him on the depth chart. Lelie played in the 49ers' exhibition finale against San Diego on Friday night, but didn't catch a pass in his only preseason action.

He was released on Saturday because of what 49ers coach Mike Nolan called a "durability issue."

Lelie has just 80 catches for 1,315 yards and two touchdowns the past three seasons.

Notes
FB Luke Lawton was back at the Raiders' facility Monday after being released on Saturday. Lawton had four catches in his one preseason game and is expected to be signed Wednesday as a backup to Justin Griffith. The team said he was in for a tryout, but he already had a locker and a uniform. ... P Shane Lechler, who has been out with a quadriceps injury, said he expected to punt on Wednesday in practice and should be ready for the game. ... S Rashad Baker expected to return to practice Wednesday from an ankle injury.

John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer