Did Raiders scare Tarver away with Sparano contract?


The Oakland Raiders are as unique an organization as there is in the National Football League. Never one to walk to the beat of another man’s drum, long time owner and face of the franchise, Al Davis often wen out of his way to ensure the Raiders did things differently. A key example of this was drafting kicker Sebastian Janikowski in the first round of the NFL Draft. Something no one has ever done before, and will likely never do again.

And as we begin to embark on Mark Davis’ third full year as owner of the Raiders, he is now beginning to show that he too will not just follow what other teams around the NFL do. A lot has been made about the fact that the Raiders would only be offering assistant coaches a one year extension rather than the more traditional two year extensions that are handed out around the league. The fact that the decision was made against the advice of general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen showed that Mark Davis has a stubborn streak not unlike his father.

But then news broke that contrary to what had been reported, Raiders offensive line and assistant head coach Tony Sparano was not only staying in Oakland, he was doing so on a two year contract. Up to that point, it seemed almost a given that Sparano would bolt from the Raiders in order to seek more secure ground with Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay.

But while at first glance it would appear that the Sparano contract was a sign of Davis moving back towards the norm with a two year extension, it is actually symbolic of him stepping even further outside of the box. By giving Sparano two years, Davis has given him more job security than offensive coordinator Greg Olson. Considering the fact that Allen is a defensive coach, Olson is the de facto leader of the Raiders offense and now has a member of his coaching staff with a better contract than his.

Further, by departing from his original stance, Davis has shown that Sparano is a special exception. Sparano is clearly one of the best coaches on the Raiders staff and is very important to the rebuilding process, but by acknowledging this so blatantly, he is inherently acknowledging that he does not have confidence in Olson, or anyone else on his coaching staff for that matter.

While it has been reported that the Raiders have offered defensive coordinator Jason Tarver a one year extension, there have been no reports that he has actually signed it. As a result, there is a chance that Tarver will allow his contract to expire on February 1 in order to test the coaching free agent waters. If this was something he was considering, the fact that an offensive line coach was given a better contract than he is being offered in Oakland will only make that consideration stronger.

At least one thing is still true, there is never a boring moment when it comes to the Oakland Raiders. There may be a new owner in town but he is still a Davis and does things his own way.


Accoring to Adam Caplan of NFL.com, Tarver’s contract expires today, Tuesday January 14.

While there is no confirmation from the Raiders about the end date of his contract, there have also been reports that some assistant contracts end on February 1. Either way, Tarver has not signed his deal and unless he and the Raiders are attempting to work out a new one, it appears he will take his chances on the market and see what other teams are offering.

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