Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Adios Javon!

Posted by mizzou1028 on March 6, 2008

Good riddance, that’s what I said to myself after Javon Walker signed with the arch rival Oakland Raiders after getting released by Denver.  Has anyone ever received a higher reward for fading fast as Javon Walker?  Seriously, the guy ends up with a new five year contract worth $56 million, $16 million of which is guaranteed, after the year he’s had?  Then again this is the Raiders.  How on earth does Al Davis think he still knows what he’s doing?  First they shell out $50.5 million over five years to keep no name defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, and then they overpay for Walker, who had received interest from other teams, but wasn’t exactly getting his door knocked down? Sure there were other teams interested in Walker, but several reports indicated he hasn’t worked out at all since the end of the season, and there were questions as to whether he could pass a physical with any team because of his knee, which has now required two operations in three years.  The fact is the Broncos actually tried to trade Walker before they released him, but couldn’t find any takers. 

Mike Shanahan seemed like he had a steal two years ago when he acquired Walker for a second round draft pick from Green Bay.  Sure, Walker was coming off a knee reconstruction and had missed the entire 2005 season after injuring his knee in week one, but the Broncos were getting a playmaker.  It did actually work, well for one season anyway.  Walker showed the big play ability he was brought in for, catching 69 balls in 2006 for 1,084 yards and 8 touchdowns.  Looking beyond those numbers though, Walker pretty much carried the team by himself on offense, or does anyone forget he put up most of those numbers with the immortal Jake Plummer throwing to him?  

Things actually started okay last season too, as Walker caught 17 balls in the first two games alone, both Broncos wins, although he didn’t have any touchdowns.  Walker inexplicably was held to two catches for 10 yards in week three against Jacksonville and then did not take the field again until week 12.  During that time we kept hearing how things were week to week as far as his status, and there were reports of more trouble in the already reconstructed knee.   Walker was ready to return following the bye week against Pittsburgh, having missed two games, and looked ready to go in practice in that week.  Then the Friday before the game he’s down in Houston having a second surgery on the already reconstructed knee.  In the meantime, Brandon Marshall began to emerge as the top target for quarterback Jay Cutler.  Marshall in fact finished with a great year, finishing with 102 catches for for 1,325 yards and seven touchdowns.  Walker after he returned in week 12?  He was held without a catch in his return against Chicago, caught one ball for seven yards at Oakland, sat out against the Chiefs with further knee trouble, and caught a whopping six balls in the final three games of the season for less than 50 yards. 

Walker pretty much wrote his ticket out of Denver during his end of season press conference the day after the final game against Minnesota, saying that he wanted to be elsewhere and that he felt he should be the number one receiver.  It became clear that Cutler and Marshall developed a connection during Walker’s absence, and that if Walker wanted to come back in 2008 it would be in a so called number two role.  With the Broncos having as many needs to fill as they do, they clearly weren’t about to pay a $5 million roster bonus for a guy who didn’t want to be here, so it is clear why they let him go.  I’m certainly of the mind that if a player doesn’t want to be part of the organization, get rid of him.  Admittedly, Walker is very effective when healthy, and the Broncos will miss his big play potential.  That being said, if Marshall can continue to shine next season, and if free agent signee Keary Colbert turns out to be as good as advertised, the Broncos could actually be in decent shape.  I still find it very hard to believe that someone was willing give Walker that kind of contract when it’s unclear as to whether his knee will hold up for one season, let alone five.  The silver lining is that if this goes wrong as I suspect it will, the Raiders will be the organization to suffer.  I can’t think of a more deserving owner or franchise to get stuck overpaying for a receiver that’s not likely to hold up the length of the contract and will more than likely bring an attitude problem to the locker room.  I can’t wait to hear the reception Walker will get when the Raiders come to Denver next season.  I just hope that this doesn’t backfire on the Broncos and that Walker doesn’t regain his Pro Bowl level in Oakland.  Then again, it is the Raiders, so the odds are with them not knowing what they’re doing.  Odds are they’ll be able to add Walker to their list of free agent failures (see Brown, Larry). 

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