Dickey: Raiders handcuffed to budget 

The Raiders can’t afford to draft a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick. Sound familiar? It should, because I wrote that two months ago, before all the draft speculation got into high gear.

The Raiders are bringing in Brady Quinn and JaMarcus Russell for interviews and workouts. Possibly one of them, most likely Russell, will show so much ability and charisma that they’ll draft him.

But that’s not likely because of their money problems. A quarterback at No. 1 would mean a contract similar to what the 49ers gave Alex Smith two years ago — in the $50 million range. That’s much too rich for the Raiders, a team at the bottom of the NFL in revenue.

So, the Raiders seem ready to pick wide receiver Calvin Johnson with that selection. They’re talking to Detroit about a trade for journeyman quarterback Josh McCown. They’re thinking of drafting Stanford quarterback Trent Edwards. They had hoped he’d be available in the third round, but Edwards has risen on the draft charts because of his impressive workouts with teams. So, the Raiders might have to use their second-round pick to get him.

None of this makes much sense from a pure football standpoint, especially taking a wide receiver at No. 1 overall. A wide receiver can’t dominate because even the best need a good quarterback. Ask Gene Washington, who appeared on his way to a Hall of Fame career with the 49ers when John Brodie was the quarterback, but fell into the bin of might-have-beens with the sad group of quarterbacks that followed after Brodie retired.

NFL teams know this. In the last 25 years, only two wide receivers have been selected first: Keyshawn Johnson and Irving Fryar. No busts are being prepared for them at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But Calvin Johnson’s deal would probably be about half what it would take to sign a quarterback picked at No. 1 overall.

Throwing McCown and Edwards into the quarterback mix could lead to a real mess.

The Raiders still like Andrew Walter, who was put in an impossible situation last year behind a very porous offensive line. But new coach Lane Kiffin, who reminds his players of Jon Gruden — after Tuesday’s practice at minicamp, Jerry Portersaid he got "shivers" hearing Kiffin because it brought back Gruden memories — is also trying to install a Gruden-like offense. That requires a quarterback who can move well, which does not describe Walter, McCown or Edwards.

Walter, especially, is a classic dropback passer. Kiffin had him rolling out and trying to throw on the run in minicamp workouts. Cover your eyes.

McCown has limited mobility, too. Edwards has more mobility than the other two — he had to move playing behind the Stanford offensive line, which was the collegiate equivalent of the Raiders — but he’s better suited to dropping back.

So, the Raiders are trying to install an offense ill-suited to the quarterbacks who would run it with a coaching staff that, except for offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, has almost no NFL experience. Not good news, especially with a tough schedule ahead next season.

But the combined contracts of Walter, McCown and Edwards wouldn’t come close to what Quinn or Russell could command.

In Raider-land these days, it all comes down to money. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.

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Glenn Dickey

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