ALAMEDA — His teammates are behind him, and the fans want no part of him, but the realities of a 6-16 won-loss record and salary-cap economics are conspiring against Kerry Collins.

When the Oakland Raiders face the Washington Redskins on Sunday at FedEx Field, they do so only with a microscopic hope of running the table and becoming the playoff team they aspired to be.

Collins, meanwhile, is fighting for his future with the franchise he hoped would be perfect for his style of play.

According to NFL figures, Collins' contract in 2006 carries a salary-cap value of just under $12.9 million. With a bonus acceleration of a little more than a million dollars, the Raiders would save nearly $11.9 million, if Collins was released following the season.

When the Raiders did their bookkeeping to get under the salary cap, Collins' 2005 salary was guaranteed, allowing the club to reduce his salary to $765,000 for cap purposes without adding to the acceleration of the original signing bonus.

The bottom line?

If the Raiders decide to change quarterbacks — as they did when they dumped Jeff George in favor of Rich Gannon in 1999 — they can do so and actually help their situation in terms of the salary cap.

After Oakland's 31-17 loss to Denver, coach Norv Turner said he never considered removing Collins from the game and said Collins would start against Washington.

After throwing three interceptions, including one returned 80 yards for the game-clinching touchdown by Darrent Williams, Collins received thunderous boos from the home crowd.


Advertisement

Some of his teammates, including wide receiver Jerry Porter and running back LaMont Jordan, defended Collins after the game. Collins said he appreciated their support.

"We all know we're in this together,"Collins said Wednesday. "There are going to be times when we have to stick up for each other."

The NFL's 15th-rated passer, Collins has completed 55 percent of his passes (183-for-333) for 2,367 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions for a rating of 84.0.

As quarterback, Collins is taking the brunt of the criticism for Oakland's 3-6 record, a responsibility he understands is part of the job.

"Our record is not obviously what I'd want it to be right now," Collins said. "It is what it is. We've got a game to play this week, and we've just got to get ready for that."

Circumstances for Collins have been less than ideal. He was 3-10 as a starter after Gannon suffered a broken vertebra in Week 3 on a team that finished 30th in total defense and 32nd in rushing.

While the Raiders have improved in both areas in 2005, they have two heartbreaking losses to Kansas City that went down to the last possession and a 23-20 decision to Philadelphia in which Sebastian Janikowski missed two field-goal attempts.

An offense that was supposed to strike fear into opponents has failed to score more than 20 points in six of nine games.

Collins had his two worst performances against division opponents San Diego and Denver in games at McAfee Coliseum, incurring the wrath of Raider Nation.

If the Raiders continue to struggle offensively, Al Davis will be faced with the dilemma of whether to bring back an unpopular quarterback in a year in which the club will take over its own marketing and sell its own tickets.

The only quarterbacks with significant starting experience scheduled to be free agents are San Diego's Drew Brees and Cincinnati backup Jon Kitna. The Chargers made Brees a franchise free agent last season and could do so again with another strong season.

Among those quarterbacks who could come free because of bloated contracts, bonus payments or those just in need of a change of scenery include Tennessee's Steve McNair, Houston's David Carr and Detroit's Joey Harrington.

While Turner has shown no signs of wanting to get backup Marques Tuiasosopo some action, that could change toward the end of the season when the Raiders would run no risk of voiding his contract.

Tuiasosopo is under contract through 2006 but has a deal similar to former Raiders Eric Barton, Rod Coleman and current Raider Jerry Porter in that it can be voided if he plays a requisite number of snaps.

Tuiasosopo's figure is believed to be 30 percent. With the Raiders averaging 62.4 snaps per game on offense, they'll have roughly 1,000 snaps at the end of the season.

If the Raiders wanted to give Tuiasosopo a serious look before the end of the season, they could start him for the final three or four games and still be safely under the 30 percent figure, holding him to his original deal.

Andrew Walter, a third-round draft pick out of Arizona State who had a strong preseason, is Oakland's No.3 quarterback.

EXTRA POINTS: DE Bobby Hamilton (ankle-questionable) got in some work Thursday, did not finish practice and will be a game-time decision in Washington. C Adam Treu (knee-questionable) did not complete practice, and Jake Grove will likely reassume his duties as starter, with Treu doing the long-snapping. WR Randy Moss (ribs-pelvis-groin-probable) and DB Renaldo Hill (hip-probable) completed practice. ... Turner said CB Charles Woodson (broken leg) has been lifting weights to strengthen his upper body in the morning but has done no conditioning work. There has been no determination on whether Woodson or Langston Walker (abdomen) will return this season.