July 28, 2004
SportsLine.com wire reports

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders are prepared to deal with what could be a lengthy holdout by star cornerback Charles Woodson.


The Raiders placed the franchise tag on Woodson, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, in February. With the franchise designation, he would make about $8.8 million this season, but Woodson hasn't signed the Raiders' tender.

By not signing, he's technically not on the roster and can't be fined for missing practice once the team starts training camp Friday in Napa.

Meanwhile, Oakland was close to signing top draft pick Robert Gallery, a 6-foot-7, 323-pound offensive tackle who is expected to compete for a starting job right away. He is considered the best offensive line prospect since Orlando Pace went No. 1 overall to St. Louis in 1997.

Woodson, who's entering his seventh pro season, has said he wants a big-money long-term contract.

Several other stars have annually stayed out of camp as franchise players.

"I've not talked to him in a while," coach Norv Turner said Wednesday. "Charles is doing the things he has to do physically to get ready. ... I don't know how you judge to say it's going to be a long time or it's going to be soon. I'd like to have him soon, and hopefully we will.

Turner added that he doesn't expect Woodson to hold out all year. A call to Woodson's agent, Carl Poston, was not immediately returned Wednesday.

All-Pro linebacker Julian Peterson of San Francisco also is expected to hold out as a franchise player. Peterson is represented by Poston's brother, Kevin. Pace, the Rams' franchise player, is another holdout whose agent is Carl Poston.

"I can't really give you an update," Turner said. "We're in the same situation four or five teams are with the franchise tag. I'm not sure that any of them will get resolved real fast. I'm anxious and optimistic something will get done and we'll get him in camp as soon as we can.

"We've had 24 practices. We've had great practices. I don't see it affecting what we're trying to get done. We want to get Charles in here. He's a heck of a player. We're better with him than without him."

Woodson, selected by the Raiders in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft, was the most outspoken critic of fired coach Bill Callahan. Woodson said after last season he would not play for Callahan, who was eventually fired by owner Al Davis after the team's 4-12 season -- the worst collapse by a team that reached the Super Bowl the previous season.

Phillip Buchanon and Nnamdi Asomugha will play in Woodson's place for now.

The Associated Press News Service