The cap-strapped Oakland Raiders are trying to be creative when it comes to re-signing players, and after franchising strong safety Tyvon Branch, the front office has asked outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley to re-structure or find another team.
Wimbley is guaranteed an $11 million dollar salary in 2012 if he is still on the Raiders roster come March 17th, and that number is far to high considering Oakland was reported to be $20 million over the NFL’s expected $120 million dollar salary cap.
Last month the Raiders — under new head coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie — released cornerback Stanford Routt less then a year after the late Al Davis signed the veteran to a lucrative five year $54.5 million dollar contract.
Wimbley, a former first round pick, played defensive end for the Florida State Seminoles before being drafted by the Cleveland Browns and converted to a 3-4 rush outside linebacker.
The move gave Wimbley — who posted a 4.61 forty-yard dash at the combine, 1.60 10-yard split, 38.5 inch vertical, and 129 inch broad jump — zero problems as he has 42.5 career sacks in six seasons in the NFL.
He clearly has the ability to play in a 3-4, and certainly could put his hand in the dirt as a defensive end, but he is also athletic enough to play outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense.
New Orleans is walking a tight rope with it’s current crop of pending free agents, and as more time goes by the likelyhood that quarterback Drew Brees gets the franchise tag is growing to near certainty.
If the Saints franchise Brees he will make a $14.4 million dollar base salary in 2012, making it very hard for the Saints to re-sign receiver Marques Colston and guard Carl Nicks — among others — much less free agents from other teams.
But Wimbley could be valuable to the Saints, or moreover Steve Spagnuolo who needs more pressure from the front four to make his defense work in top form — and rushing the passer has been area of failure for the team with their current personnel.
Wimbley could stand up and play outside linebacker with his 4.6 speed, or get low and rush the passer on every defensive snap.
He likely won’t come cheap, as elite pass rushers never do, and a team that runs the 3-4 defense will surely covet Wimbley on the open market enough to make him a large offer to sign.
The Arizona Cardinals are in need of linebackers to fill out their 3-4 defense, as are the Pittsburgh Steelers who have begun the process of releasing several veterans to clear cap space.