Raiders sign Asomugha, tell Jordan to stay away from team
NAPA, Calif. -- Nnamdi Asomugha could have easily skipped the two-a-days and the monotony of training camp practices and signed his franchise player tender offer in a few weeks to be ready for the start of the season.
Instead, he decided to put the contract dispute to rest and report to training camp in time for the Oakland Raiders' first practice.
"The organization is trying to turn it around and we can see that, it was evident during the offseason," Asomugha said. "I felt that being here would help as far as that camaraderie and as far as getting the team together. So I felt that it was important."
Asomugha signed his $9.765 million franchise player tender offer early Thursday, making sure the Raiders would have every player under contract by the time camp started.
"Obviously he didn't have to be here," coach Lane Kiffin said. "He could have stayed out of camp, and for him to be here the first day to run the conditioning test with us today shows what a team player he is and who he is."
Asomugha has not practiced with the team for the entire offseason while waiting to have his contract situation resolved. He was designated as the exclusive franchise player in February, which prohibited him from even negotiating with any other teams.
He talked with the Raiders about signing a long-term deal but the two sides were unable to agree before a deadline last week. Shortly after that, Asomugha decided to show up on time for training camp.
"The negotiations never got antagonistic or anything like that to where we were going back and forth and fighting," he said. "It was always amicable so I knew I could come and everybody would be ok with it. We were never fighting like people say that we were."
As the Raiders handed out big contracts to Tommy Kelly, DeAngelo Hall, Javon Walker and Darren McFadden this offseason, Asomugha admitted he wondered at times when his turn for a big deal would come up.
Asomugha has been one of Oakland's best players the past two years, developing into an elite cornerback. But any bitterness over the other contracts passed quickly.
"I am 100 percent a human being, so there was a piece of me in the beginning that was wondering what was going on," he said. "You kind of look and wonder, 'Ok, maybe it's your turn, maybe it's not.' So that did come up in the beginning. But after a while, a short while, you realize that what's for you is for you; what's for them is for them."
While Asomugha showed up, running back LaMont Jordan was told to stay home as the Raiders try to trade him. Jordan is scheduled to make $4.7 million this year and $5 million next season but has no role with the Raiders after the team drafted McFadden.
Kiffin said owner Al Davis is dealing with Jordan's agent, Alvin Keels, to resolve the situation. Jordan visited the Detroit Lions earlier this month but has not found a new team willing to trade for him. The Raiders might be forced to release Jordan if they can't make a deal.
"That's Al and LaMont's agent on that and I'm out of that," Kiffin said. "They're handling it so all the information I've got for you that was relayed to me is that they're continuing to work on it. LaMont won't be here and we won't be fining him."
In other news, Walker has been cleared to practice after being seriously injured last month during a robbery in Las Vegas. Walker was discovered unconscious and beaten on a back street near the Las Vegas Strip following a night of partying. Walker was treated at a hospital for a concussion and facial injuries.
Walker declined to address the topic, saying it was too soon to talk about it. He said he doesn't believe his reputation took a hit because of the incident in Las Vegas.
"You know you want to look at my reputation as far as an organization or a team, like I said, you can't find any charges against me," Walker said. "Everybody knows my personality off the field. When it comes to what I feel I believe and what I want to do, I just stand up for it, and from what I know, I think that is right."
The Raiders are counting heavily on Walker after signing him to a six-year, $55 million deal after the Denver Broncos released him in February.
Walker will only practice once a day at the start of camp because he is still recovering from a knee injury sustained last season. Walker said he has lost 15 pounds since he was last with the team and Kiffin said he is in better physical shape than he had been in the spring.
"We're just happy that in the end he was able to work through it, play again and that he's safe, and he needs to have a really big year, and he knows that," Kiffin said. "I think he's put it behind him, and he's come back, obviously, weight-wise and body fat-wise, than he was before."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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