The Raiders paid the ultimate price Tuesday for their failure to come to an expedient contract agreement with Pro Bowl tight end Zach Miller.
Miller signed a five-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks worth a reported $34 million with $17 million guaranteed after being invited to the Northwest by former Raiders coach and current Seahawks assistant Tom Cable.
"Coach Cable gave me a call Saturday morning and saw I wasn't signed yet, kind of feeling the Raiders would have done it by then," Miller said in a phone interview with the Bay Area News Group. "He said, 'We want you here, and I'm going to make a push to get you here.'
"I took a visit, and my wife and I just loved it. I'm still kind of blown away about what an amazing place it is, and we feel it's the best fit."
Miller also got the hard sell from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, whose recruiting skills were legendary as coach at USC.
The Raiders were off Tuesday and issued no comment, but the loss of Miller is a blow to their passing game. He was Oakland's most consistent offensive player and leading receiver over the past four years with 226 receptions for 2,712 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The $17 million in guaranteed money that Miller received from the Seahawks is less than Oakland paid linebacker Kamerion Wimbley ($29 million), defensive lineman Richard Seymour ($22.5 million) and cornerback Stanford Routt ($20 million), so it's fair to assume the Raiders were offering less.
However, a team source as recently as Sunday thought Miller would return and that details on a contract were being completed. Wimbley's long-term contract helped clear salary-cap space and appeared to clear the way for Miller's signing until the Seahawks stepped in.
"Football's a business, and I know that firsthand," Miller said. "When I was going into the last year of my rookie deal, I was hoping to get extended and get a long-term contract, and it didn't happen. Then the season ended and I was expecting a deal, and it didn't happen, either.
"Throughout the process I was expecting it, and it just never happened."
Miller and guard Robert Gallery, who also joined the Seahawks in free agency, voiced their support for Cable before his contract was not renewed by Al Davis after an 8-8 season.
However, Miller said he likes new coach Hue Jackson and was looking forward to playing for him if he returned to Oakland. He said he was in constant contact with Raiders players, as well as with tight-ends coach Adam Henry.
"That's the toughest part. I feel so loyal to my teammates, and I think Coach Jackson is going to be a really good coach," Miller said.
Miller had 60 catches for 685 yards and a career-high five touchdowns while making his first Pro Bowl last season. His departure means Oakland lost both its Pro Bowl position players -- cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha signed with Philadelphia on Monday.
The most experienced tight end on the Oakland roster now is Brandon Myers, who has 16 catches for 99 yards over two seasons. Other tight ends in camp include Kevin Brock, a practice-squad player last season, and two rookies -- sixth-round draft pick Richard Gordon out of Miami and seventh-rounder David Ausberry out of USC.
The most prominent free agent tight end on the market is Kevin Boss of the New York Giants.
Boss, 27, like Miller, is a four-year veteran. At 6-foot-6, 253 pounds, he is considered a punishing blocker, and he has 119 receptions for 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Heyer played with Washington in 49 games (33 starts) from 2007-10 and said on his Facebook page he had signed with the Raiders. Smiley, who had a scheduled visit in Napa, has started 78 of 88 games since 2004 and played with the 49ers, Miami and Jacksonville. Wand was on the Oakland roster in 2007 and 2008 and played in one game.
zach miller in 2010 »