Collins says he'd welcome chance to stay in Oakland

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Kerry Collins realizes returning to the Oakland Raiders next season is a long shot. He'll cost too much.

Still, Collins says he would welcome another chance to help turn around a frustrated franchise. He hopes coach Norv Turner gets the opportunity, too.

There's a realistic chance neither will be with the team in 2006, so Collins is determined to do everything in his power during the season's final two weeks to finish strong -- for everybody's sake.

When asked Wednesday if he thinks he will be back, the quarterback said, "I don't know." He would count about $12.9 million against the salary cap next season.

"Certainly, I'm aware of my contract status and it would be hard to think that I would stay here under the current contract I have," Collins said as the Raiders prepared for Saturday's game at division-leading Denver. "But I'd like to be here. I'd like to be part of turning this thing around. It's purely speculative to think what's going to happen right now. But we'll play these next two weeks out, go into the offseason and see what happens."

Collins, who turns 33 next week, has completed 259 of 476 passes for 3,250 yards and 17 touchdowns with 11 interceptions.

He was benched for the Raiders' 26-10 loss to the New York Jets on Dec. 11 in favor of backup Marques Tuiasosopo, but Tuiasosopo was ineffective. Turner changed his mind and went back to Collins last week, when Oakland lost 9-7 at home to the Cleveland Browns.

Turner's future with the organization he grew up cheering for is also in question, though he remains focused on getting the Raiders ready for their final two games.

"He's got my utmost support," Collins said. "He's done a lot for me. He's gone to bat for me a lot of times. He's a guy that I respect and he's a guy that I enjoy playing for. I hope everything he wants to happen happens and I hope he's here and he's given another shot, because he can do it."

Collins thinks the Raiders can find some inspiration this week from what they accomplished at Denver last season.

In November 2004, he passed for 339 yards and four touchdowns as the Raiders pulled off a 25-24 upset of the Broncos in a Sunday night game in the snow. Oakland scored the winning touchdown in the final minutes.

And after Oakland took the lead, Jake Plummer drove the Broncos to the Raiders 25 to set up a field-goal attempt by Jason Elam, but the snap was high. Elam kicked the laces-side of the ball and Langston Walker blocked the kick to preserve the win.

The Broncos, 11-point favorites coming in, suddenly were 7-4 instead of 8-3. They had already beaten the Raiders 31-3 in Oakland that October.

"I think the fact we went up there and played well last year definitely should help our confidence going into the game," Collins said. "We know what they're playing for."

Whatever happens, at least some of Collins' teammates are standing behind him despite the constant boos and criticism from Raiders fans.

"Kerry is a guy who shows great character," safety Stuart Schweigert said. "He's a guy who's stuck in there. It's hard, because every game he plays is like an away game because he's got the crowd booing him and all that stuff. I give him a lot of credit to come in here and work hard every week like he does. Sometimes people put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, but there are other reasons why sometimes there's interceptions or the offense isn't doing so well. It's disappointing to see everyone put it on his shoulders."