ALAMEDA (AP) — After starting the free agency period by cutting salaries, the Oakland Raiders started spending money Friday by signing offensive lineman Mike Brisiel and cornerback Ron Bartell to contracts.
"Both players are proven, productive professionals with excellent track records in this league," general manager Reggie McKenzie said in a statement. "We are extremely excited to have them both play for the Raiders."
Brisiel got a five-year contract worth almost $20 million and Bartell got a one-year deal worth up to $3 million with incentives, according to a person familiar with the deals who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team did not release terms.
The signings came hours after the Raiders released their seventh player and fifth starter of the offseason, letting go of linebacker Kamerion Wimbley.
The additions of Brisiel and Bartell help fill the voids created by some of the recent cuts. Brisiel will likely replace longtime starter Cooper Carlisle at right guard. Carlisle, the starter the past five seasons, was released earlier this week.
Brisiel, who started 13 games at guard last season for Houston, has extensive experience with two of the Raiders' new assistants. Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Knapp was quarterbacks coach with the Texans the past two seasons and offensive line coach Frank Pollack was an assistant line coach for all of Brisiel's five seasons with the Texans.
Bartell helps fill the void created by the release of starting cornerbacks Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson. Bartell was St. Louis' top cornerback most of his seven seasons there, but missed virtually all of 2011 after sustaining two neck fractures in the opener. Bartell was injured when he absorbed a block by a Philadelphia lineman.
Bartell has eight career interceptions and 58 passes defensed in 89 career games. According to STATS LLC, Bartell allowed 45 catches on 100 passes in his direction in 2010 for 612 yards and two touchdowns.
The Raiders have also released starting tight end Kevin Boss, backup defensive tackle John Henderson and backup safety Hiram Eugene as McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen put their own stamp on the team in the first offseason since the death of longtime owner Al Davis.
Wimbley was cut just one year into a $48 million, five-year deal. The move means the Raiders are no longer on the hook for an additional $4.5 million of guaranteed money for the 2012 season.
"We tried to make it work all afternoon, but just too many constraints with (the) Raiders cap situation," Wimbley's agent, Joe Linta, said in an email. "Reggie McKenzie is a real pro and we appreciate how he handled it."
Oakland gave Wimbley the big contract last summer instead of allowing him to play on an $11.3 million franchise tender. He got paid $5 million in 2011 under the restructured deal and is still guaranteed an additional $6.5 million from the Raiders even after he signs with another team. The Raiders would have been on the hook for $4.5 million more in 2012 if Wimbley was on the roster Saturday, as well as an additional $13 million in guaranteed money for the rest of the deal, which led to the decision to let him go.
"I would like to thank the late Al Davis and the Raider organization for giving me the opportunity to play for the Silver and Black," Wimbley tweeted Friday. "I will miss Oakland and the great fans of the Raider nation."
Wimbley was an effective pass rusher in his two seasons with the Raiders with 16 sacks. He had seven sacks, 21.5 quarterback knockdowns and 9.5 hurries last season, according to STATS LLC, although much of that production came in a dominant four-sack performance at San Diego.
Wimbley will likely be highly sought after now that he is a free agent. He has experience playing outside linebacker and defensive end in 4-3 alignments, as well as outside linebacker in 3-4 systems.
Wimbley was a first-round pick by Cleveland in 2006 and had 26.5 sacks in four seasons before being dealt to Oakland in March 2010 for a third-round draft pick.