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Raiders Brake Into Free Agency Sign CB Bartel and G Brisiel

While the Oakland Raiders appeared to be sound asleep during the first 48 hours of the 2012 NFL Free Agency frenzy I had a feeling Reggie McKenzie and company had something up their sleeve.

Just moments after announcing the release of linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, Oakland officially signed cornerback Ronald Bartell to a one-year contract, along with guard Mike Brisiel to an undisclosed deal.

“We would like to welcome both Mike and Ron to the Silver and Black,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said in a statement, via team’s press release. “Both players are proven, productive professionals with excellent track records in this league. We are extremely excited to have them both play for the Raiders.”

The Houston Chronicle reported Brisiel’s deal was for five years and $20 million, while Bartell will receive one year and $3 million, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.  The signings were the first for the Raiders after a steady stream of releases and restructures that got the team as much as $15 million under the $120.6 million salary cap.

Mike Brisiel, 29, has started 47 games since being picked up by the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2006 out of Colorado State.  Last season, Brisiel started 13 contests, but missed the final three games after suffering a broken leg on December 11 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The 6-5, 300-pound guard finished that game hampered, nonetheless and also returned for Houston’s pair of contests in the playoffs.  A veteran of the zone-blocking system which Oakland will operate in 2012, Brisiel will replace Cooper Carlisle, who was also released earlier this week.  Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Knappand line coach Frank Pollack were both on staff with the Texans last year.

Ronald Bartell, 30, missed virtually all of last year after suffering two neck fractures in the season opener.  Selected in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft, Bartell was the second-longest tenured player and the top corner for most of his seven seasons with the St. Louis Rams.  He’s expected to take over the starting role vacated by Stanford Routt.

After nearly two weeks of silence between the two sides, Wimbley was released by the Raiders.

The difference was too big in the end between what Wimbley was scheduled to make in the deal struck during the Al Davis regime and what the team was willing to pay now under McKenzie.  Wimbley would have received an additional $4.5 million this season, $11 million next season and $2 million guaranteed in 2013 if he had remained with the Raiders past Friday.

Look for Oakland to lock up another free agent cornerback (reportedly interested in Tracy Porter), weight its options on the open market for a replacement for Wimbley and pursue other players on the open market, beginning with a reliable route-running receiver and backup quarterback over Terrelle Pryor.  The Raiders may have missed an opportunity at a big-ticket wide receiver like Vincent Jackson and Robert Meachem, but look for Oakland to target a well-rounded experienced veteran.

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