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Raiders re-sign Porter, 'franchise' Woodson

(Feb. 22, 2005) -- Receiver Jerry Porter re-signed with the Oakland Raiders, agreeing to a multiyear deal and freeing the club to designate four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson as its franchise player again.

Porter, the Raiders' leading receiver last season, signed the contract at the team's training complex in Alameda, Calif.

"I'm happy to return to the Raiders and ready to get started on a new football season," Porter said in a statement released by the team.

Porter has spent all five of his NFL seasons with the Raiders, and he was expected to be one of the top free-agent receivers on the market this spring when he voided the final year of his last contract. Though Porter wanted to return to Oakland, he expressed concern late last season when he hadn't heard about Oakland's plans for him.

"Jerry was pleased with the contract and excited to remain a Raider," his agent, Joel Segal, told The Associated Press. "It's a contract that's a good contract for Jerry and a good contract for the team. It's a win for everybody."

Oakland dreaded losing either Porter or Woodson without compensation -- and thanks to an impressive contract offer to Porter, they won't have that problem.

Woodson, the Raiders' franchise player last season as well, received a 20 percent raise over his 2004 contract.

But Woodson still might not return to the Raiders. He is a non-exclusive franchise player, which allows him to negotiate with other teams -- and if he leaves, Oakland will get two first-round draft picks as compensation. The Raiders also could try to trade Woodson.

Woodson is among the Raiders' most talented and popular players, but he has battled injuries and clashed with management and coaches in recent years. In addition, he was arrested in downtown Oakland last December for investigation of public intoxication.

The 26-year-old Porter had a career-high 64 catches for 998 yards and nine touchdowns last season, falling just short of his first 1,000-yard campaign.

"We're excited to have Jerry back in the silver and black for the long term," coach Norv Turner said. "Although he posted career numbers last year, we feel Jerry's best football is still ahead of him."

Turner had much less to say about his embattled cornerback.

"We're pleased to retain the services of Charles Woodson," Turner said in a statement.

Quarterback Kerry Collins called for the Raiders to re-sign Porter late in the season, saying it was one of the most important decisions the team had to make. By that night, Segal had a preliminary offer on the table, Porter said.

"This year, a year stronger, another year with Kerry, another year in Norv's offense, it's only going to get better," Porter said.

Oakland is 9-23 since reaching the 2003 Super Bowl, when Porter was considered one of the NFL's rising star receivers -- but he battled injuries for much of the 2003 season, catching only 28 passes.

The Raiders parted ways with Tim Brown and Jerry Rice last fall, and Porter emerged as their top pass-catching threat alongside Ronald Curry. Porter also excels in the downfield passing game that owner Al Davis favors.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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