The past year has been quite a learning experience for Brandon Myers.
First, the fourth-year tight end from Iowa had a breakout season for the Raiders, catching a career-high 79 passes for 806 yards and four touchdowns.
Considering he’d caught just 32 passes total in his previous three seasons in the NFL, 2012 was a monster season, and Myers quickly won the confidence of his quarterback and head coach as a reliable playmaker. Forty-one of his catches were good for first downs and nine were for 20 or more yards.
Now, Myers is taking a class in Free Agency 101.
Monday passed without the Raiders putting the franchise tag on Myers, who is entering free agency. He had hoped the team might make a move with the tag to ensure he stays in Oakland, and remains optimistic. That’s what he wants.
But he’s learning as he goes.
“I’m not very familiar with this,” he told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group Monday night, after the deadline passed for the franchise tag. “That’s why I have an agent. I’m optimistic that they might give me an offer, but I guess they had a conversation at the Combine and it didn’t sound like they were ready to do that. We’ll just see where it takes us.”
The only other tight ends on the roster at this point are David Ausberry and Richard Gordon, who both played backup roles and on special teams in 2012.
Back in mid February, Bill Williamson, ESPN.com’s AFC West blogger, listed Myers as the division’s No. 1 unrestricted free agent, writing: “Myers had a breakout receiving season in 2012 and he will draw interest on the open market. The Raiders will try to keep him, but it may not be easy. It could help Oakland that it is a strong tight end free-agent class.”
Myers went into this past season unproven as a pass catcher, but soon was wowing his teammates and coaches with great hands and clutch catches after winning the job left vacant by the 2011 starter, Kevin Boss, who was released.
“I think I’ve proved what I’ve known all along, but just haven’t been given the opportunity to showcase what I can do,” Myers told the media in December. “I guess you could say I showed what I can do. Even though we weren’t winning a lot of games, when I was given the opportunity I made the most of it.”
Myers’ 79 receptions were the most by a Raiders tight end since the 92 by Todd Christensen in 1986.
Myers told McDonald Monday night that he just needs to stay patient.
“We’re pretty confident I’ll have a job here in a couple of weeks, but I’ll just try to sit back and not think about it.”
As McDonald noted, the Raiders may still be interested in retaining Myers, but need to get some salary cap issues worked out first. A number of big contracts need to be renegotiated or cut before the team can make a move to retain Myers.
It would seem that keeping Myers would be a priority. Whether the quarterback next season is Carson Palmer, Terrelle Pryor, rookie Geno Smith or a person TBA, having a steady playmaker such as Myers -- an outstanding, reliable receiver -- would be difficult to replace.