Quick-and-easy assumption No. 1: Tom Cable remains the Raiders' head coach, based on the lack of any statement to the contrary from the team.
Quick-and-easy assumption No. 2: Cable remains resolutely skeptical of JaMarcus Russell's quarterbacking acumen, based on Cable's comments to reporters at the recently concluded NFL scouting combine.
"Let the (quarterback) job be competed for," Cable said. "I think that's where we're at in terms of our starting quarterback."
Cable didn't stop there, suggesting the Raiders could conceivably select a quarterback in next month's draft. And that was before the team tendered offers to restricted free agents Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye, who began last season as Russell's backups and wound up starting ahead of him in late-season games.
Quick-and-easy conclusion: The Raiders are laboring under a fundamental and XXXL-size conflict as they approach the heart of their offseason activity:
Owner Al Davis apparently still likes Russell, whom he drafted with the first overall pick in 2007.
Cable, based on what he has said, left unsaid and tucked between the lines, views Russell as an underachiever lacking in preparation and work ethic.
Russell remains a polarizing submediocrity until further notice, largely unsupported in the Raiders locker room and vilified by what's left of the fan base.
For those of you new to professional football, teams hardly ever operate in this manner. Oh, sometimes coaches and team executives disagree over the merits of a player. These conflicts are generally resolved one of two ways — the coach agrees to use the player without complaint (or at least without one that can be heard beyond the walls of the compound), or the executive fires the coach.
This is why it was presumed the Raiders were at a crossroads at the end of last season. Not only did Cable bench Russell after nine games (and seven losses), but also Cable left Russell benched after injuries to his replacements. Even after Russell relieved a concussed Frye and threw the winning touchdown pass against Denver, Cable started Frye the next week.
A week after that Cable said Russell's poor play prevented the Raiders from challenging for a playoff spot. Given that the Raiders were en route to an NFL-record seventh consecutive season of at least 11 losses, that frank assessment generated what you might call a little buzz.
At the time it was presumed to be an act of defiance by Cable, a cleansing unburdening in the face of a certain pink slip. Was he daring Davis to choose between his coach and his prized quarterback? Or was this a case of a stick in the eye being its own reward?
At this point, it's looking like c) none of the above. The pink slip hasn't happened. Russell remains on scholarship. And the principals appear to be gearing up for another wacky season of "The Odd Couple Plus One."
Barring a stunning turn of events, of course. Maybe Davis has been rethinking his position on Russell. It did seem odd that the guy who overruled Norv Turner's switch from Kerry Collins to Marques Tuiasosopo four years ago would allow Cable to bench Russell seven games in a row.
Frankly, this would be an opportune time for Davis to fall out of love with Russell. The NFL is headed for a season without a salary cap, meaning players with big contracts can be dumped without having their plus-size bonuses accelerated against the payroll.
But for Davis to concede that Russell is a 65.2-rated bust would be to admit that his player personnel instincts are taking on water. So don't expect that.
Maybe Cable has an epiphanic moment in which he decides he's been too rough on young JaMarcus. Doubtful, given that Cable has been the voice of reason up to this point.
Or maybe Russell, rumored to have spent part of the offseason at a clinic being treated for lethargy addiction, shows up for minicamp weighing 230 sculpted pounds and ready to work twice as hard as anyone else in the building. Sorry, didn't mean to make you blow coffee out your nose first thing in the morning — just trying to cover all bases.
No, this is shaping up as an ongoing and riveting drama. Maybe not on the order of Ghost to the Post, but hey, in a post-Super Bowl XXXVII world you take what you can get.
Contact Gary Peterson at email@example.com.