Javon Walker, signed by the Raiders in 2008 to be their No. 1 receiver, has asked for his release.
The veteran wideout is looking for a chance to resurrect his NFL career with a team interested in a former Pro Bowl player who believes he is in his prime. Nowadays, he is nothing more than an afterthought on the Raiders.
"That would be nice," Walker said earlier this week, "because, the thing about it is, it's not that I can't play. I can play. From everyone who sees me at practice, I still got it going on."
Thursday was an exception, as Walker left practice early with a hamstring injury.
Walker struggled through his first season with the Raiders. He battled another hamstring injury most of training camp last year, missed the first game, then caught only 15 passes in eight games before a season-ending ankle injury.
Walker has overcome surgeries on his ankle and knee within the past year and said he has worked his way back into the best shape of his eight-year NFL career. But he hasn't caught a pass through the first eight games.
Now the expected return of No. 1 receiver Chaz Schilens on Sunday against Kansas City all but assures Walker spending the rest of the season buried on the depth chart, if not on the bench.
"If you get an injury here, an injury there, then he's the next guy," coach Tom Cable said when asked what it would take for Walker to see the field again. "That has kind of been his role in this whole
It's a precipitous fall from where Walker stood 18 months ago, when the Raiders signed him to a six-year contract that guaranteed him $16 million. He collected $12 million last season and is guaranteed $4.6 million through the end of next season.
Raiders managing general partner Al Davis made it clear he wants Cable to play the younger players, especially Schilens and rookies Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy.
Former coach Lane Kiffin was hesitant to use Schilens and Johnnie Lee Higgins in the first four games last season.
"He wouldn't do it," Davis said. "That's why he got fired."
Cable heard Davis' message loud and clear. Schilens and Higgins were starting by season's end last year. Heyward-Bey and Murphy started the first eight games this season, with Walker either inactive or used only for a play here and there.
Walker said he understands the situation. As a result, he has played the good soldier, working hard and helping the younger receivers adjust to the NFL.
At the same time, he said, he wants people to understand that his lack of playing time has nothing to do with his ability.
"I know a lot of people have been questioning the coaches on why I haven't been playing," Walker said. "They just need to say that, 'Hey, we're going with the young group.' I understand that. That pretty much would at least stop all the questions being asked."
Walker, 31, caught 89 passes for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns — all career-highs — for Green Bay in 2004. He had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns with Denver in 2006.
He said there isn't any reason he can't put up similar numbers now that his knee is healthy. He also isn't ruling out the prospect of returning to the Raiders next season.
"Yeah, if the right situation presented itself, a good situation, then, yeah," Walker said. "But, if not, it's a business, and you got to move on and make it happen somewhere else."
Javon Walker's receiving statistics since joining the Raiders:
Year G Rec. Yds Avg. TD
2008 8 15 196 13.1 1
2009 3 0 -- -- 0
Totals 11 15 196 13.1 1