Raiders cut veteran defensive tackle Kelly

Published: Thursday, Mar. 28, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Thursday, Mar. 28, 2013 - 6:35 am

ALAMEDA – The Raiders released defensive tackle Tommy Kelly on Wednesday, cutting ties with the longest-tenured position player on their roster.

The move is the latest to distance the organization from the era of late owner Al Davis.

Kelly originally signed with Oakland as an undrafted free agent in 2004 and quickly became a mainstay on defense. In 2008, he signed a seven-year, $50.1 million contract to remain with Oakland. But general manager Reggie McKenzie cut Kelly two years before the end of that contract, getting his $6.5 million salary for 2013 off the books.

Only 18 players who were part of the franchise when Davis died Oct. 8, 2011, are still on the Oakland roster.

Kelly started all 80 games for the Raiders the past five seasons. His best years came in 2010 and '11, when he teamed with Richard Seymour to form a formidable force in the middle of the defensive line. Kelly had 141/2 sacks over those two seasons and was one of the better pass-rushing tackles in the league.

But he struggled to get to the quarterback last year, making one sack. He also had only 18 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus, down from an average of more than 30 the previous two seasons.

The Raiders are reworking their defensive line after losing Matt Shaughnessy to Arizona and Desmond Bryant to Cleveland in free agency and declining to bring back Seymour, a free agent. End Lamarr Houston is the only returning starter on the line.

McKenzie has signed defensive tackles Vance Walker from Atlanta and Pat Sims from Cincinnati and could use the No. 3 overall pick in April's draft to add another lineman.

Ravens – Baltimore agreed to a three-year deal with former Raiders defensive back Michael Huff.

Huff played his entire seven-year career with Oakland before being released March 12. He is expected to fill a void for the Super Bowl champions, who lost free safety Ed Reed to Houston via free agency and cut strong safety Bernard Pollard.

Last season, Huff started all 16 games for the Raiders – 14 at cornerback and two at free safety. He had 56 tackles and two interceptions.

Falcons – Atlanta replaced John Abraham by agreeing to a two-year, $8.5 million contract with free-agent defensive end Osi Umenyiora from the New York Giants.

The Falcons released Abraham, their sack leader last season with 10, on March 1. Umenyiora, 31, is slightly younger than Abraham, but the one-time All-Pro's production has declined in recent years. He had only six sacks in 2012, when he started only four of 16 games.

Giants – New York freed a little more money that could go to wide receiver Victor Cruz by reducing offensive tackle David Diehl's salary by more than $3 million.

Diehl was to make $4.37 million this season. But his 2013 salary was listed at $1 million on the National Football League Players Association's website.

Cruz is a restricted free agent.

Chargers – San Diego released offensive tackle Jared Gaither, who was cut after just one season of a four-year, $24.5 million contract that will result in a $6 million salary cap hit this year.

Last year, Gaither developed a mysterious back injury early in training camp and was slow to return, raising questions about his work ethic. Nicknamed "The Big Lazy" earlier in his career, he played in only four of the first 10 games before hurting his groin and going on injured reserve.

Lions – Safety Amari Spievey was arrested in his hometown, Middletown, Conn., after a child support dispute, police said.

His girlfriend, Lisamarie Santos, told police Spievey pushed her and put his hand on her neck when they argued. Spievey said he pushed Santos after she grabbed his throat and punched his chest while he held their 2-year-old daughter.

Spievey was charged with third-degree assault, risk of injury to a child and disorderly conduct. Santos was charged with risk of injury and disorderly conduct.

Drug testing – The World Anti-Doping Agency defended its test for human growth hormone and accused the NFL players' union of being "extremist" for questioning its validity.

WADA director general David Howman said the union was acting "the way they've operated the last few years" in trying to block the introduction of HGH testing in the NFL.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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