The league and union surprisingly agreed to postpone free agency
until Thursday to give owners a chance to consider the union's
latest proposal during a meeting Tuesday in Dallas. Talks broke off
earlier in the day, leaving veterans such as Collins in danger of
becoming salary-cap casualties before midnight Monday, when free
agency was supposed to begin.
Without Collins, the Raiders would save $9.2 million against the
salary cap once bonuses are factored into the figures. Teams can rescind waivers on any player released Sunday if they so choose.
The Raiders thought they would be forced to let Collins go after
the NFL and its union broke off talks earlier in the day, failing
to agree upon an elevated cap number that would have allowed teams
to keep certain high-priced veterans.
The team had been waiting for word on negotiations before making
a final decision on Collins' future with the organization.
The 33-year-old Collins had a 7-21 record in two years as
Oakland's starter and said at the end of the season he was willing
to restructure his deal but would not play for "peanuts."
New coach Art Shell said when he was hired last month that he
believed Collins could be a "great" quarterback for the Raiders,
but the team still had to figure out what it would do with him.
The Raiders already made moves this offseason to reduce their
payroll for next season. They released defensive lineman Ted
Washington, offensive lineman Ron Stone and defensive back Denard
Walker last week. They also declined a $10 million option for 2006
for safety Derrick Gibson. Those moves created more than $18
million in additional cap space for 2006.
Oakland also declined to use a franchise tag on Charles Woodson,
who made $10.537 million last season.
The Raiders scored only 51 points, with just six touchdowns, in
their final five games and lost their last six overall and eight of
nine despite an offense featuring Collins, Randy Moss, LaMont
Jordan and Jerry Porter. At 4-12, they finished with one fewer
victory than in fired coach Norv Turner's first season a year ago.
Perhaps the most glaring statistic is Oakland's failure to win a
division game for the first time since owner Al Davis came aboard
in 1963 to coach and eventually own the team. The Raiders went 1-11
against the AFC West during Turner's two seasons.
Collins started the season well, but couldn't maintain any
consistency. He completed 302 passes for 3,759 yards -- his most
since 2002 with the Giants -- and 20 touchdowns. He also was sacked
39 times and threw 12 interceptions.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.