Things are starting to get hot on the trade front with the National Football League draft just three weeks away.
Quarterbacks are in the forefront. Steve DeBerg of Tampa Bay and Todd Blackledge of Kansas City were shipped to new teams, and Marc Wilson of the Raiders could be right behind them.Reports have it that Wilson, who has worn out his welcome with the Raiders, could be on the way to the Chargers. Wilson is at the end of a big contract, which gave him $1 million per year. The contract still rankles Raiders owner Al Davis, who was virtually forced to offer it under pressure in the midst of the NFL-USFL war. Wilson was being courted by Donald Trump, owner of the New Jersey Generals, and Davis had to respond with bigger numbers than Wilson was worth.
Davis tried to trade Wilson two years ago to Philadelphia, but Coach Tom Flores, who was a Wilson fan, asked Davis to call off the deal even though Davis had made a verbal commitment to the Eagles. Flores kept Wilson as the starter most of the last two years, and the Raiders were inept on offense.
The impetus for the San Diego deal comes from Charger general manager Steve Ortmayer. Ortmayer was Davis' right-hand man before moving to the Chargers a year ago. Just before the start of last season, there were brief conversations about Wilson going to the Chargers for veteran Dan Fouts. It never got serious. Fouts retired two weeks ago, leaving the starting job wide open.
The Chargers coveted the Vikings' Wade Wilson, but GM Mike Lynn turned back all bids on his backup quarterback, who played so well during the playoffs. Lynn has sent out word he is not trading any of his quarterbacks.
With Wade Wilson out of contention, Ortmayer is focusing on Marc Wilson. New coach Mike Shanahan of the Raiders is not as big on Marc Wilson as Flores was, but still thinks Wilson can be effective.
If the Raiders make the deal, who is going to play quarterback for them next year? The Raiders want the venerable Jim Plunkett to retire. If he does, that would leave just Rusty Hilger, who opened as the starting quarterback in '87, but did not play well, and veteran Vince Evans, who played well on the Raider strike team.
Many observers were surprised that Kansas City did not get more than a fourth-round choice for Blackledge, who was a first-round pick out of Penn State in 1983, the same draft year that brought forth John Elway, Tony Eason, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino and Ken O'Brien. Of the bunch, Blackledge has been the biggest disappointment, and the only one, at this point, who could be regarded as a failure.