Raiders, Overstocked With Receivers, Trade One for a Cornerback

Times Staff Writer

The Raiders loosened their logjam at wide receiver by detaching one of the logs in the person of the promising Rod Barksdale and sending him down the Ventura Freeway to the Dallas Cowboys at Thousand Oaks.

In return, the Raiders got Ron Fellows, 28, a three-year starter at right cornerback, now slated to back up Mike Haynes.

"I heard they were interested, and also Green Bay," Fellows said. "Of the people interested, the Raiders were at the top of the list."

Fellows became expendable when the Cowboys drafted Baylor cornerback Ron Francis on the second round. The Raiders have been looking for help in their secondary, having taken a pounding late last season, especially against formations with three and four wide receivers. They had previously acquired another starting cornerback, the Cardinals' Lionel Washington.

This ends the storybook Raider career of the 24-year-old Barksdale, a track star at Compton High and Arizona who never played organized football, who got a tryout by writing the Raiders a letter and made their opening-day starting lineup a year later.

He was raw and he had some drops but he showed something too, catching a 57-yard touchdown pass from Marc Wilson in the opener at Denver, averaging 24 yards on his 18 receptions. Teammates said he'd made great strides over the off-season. "He was running by those guys in mini-camp whenever he wanted to," said a Raider player.

Barksdale, caught unaware, was surprised to be traded, surprised to be sought by the Cowboys.

"I feel like it's my birthday," he said. "All these surprises.

"It's always been uphill for me, a guy who came in with what you'd call raw talent that had never been refined in any football manner. . . . I was kinda surprised the Cowboys were looking for a young guy. I thought that maybe with what they went through last season, the same thing we did, they'd get somebody like James Lofton, a big wheel."

A promising, if brief, boxing career ended Sunday when the last unsigned Raider rookie, No. 2 pick Bruce Wilkerson, signed a series of four one-year contracts and joined the team.

A source said that Wilkerson will get a $1.05 million package--a $225,000 signing bonus, plus salaries of $140,000, $170,000, $220,000 and $250,000.

Wilkerson held out for eight days, during which his agents, Neal Allen and Douglas Brenner, suggested that their client might go into boxing instead of football. Brenner said Sunday night that Wilkerson's contract--like Bo Jackson's--says he can pursue another sport in the off-season, so Mike Tyson isn't safe yet.

Wilkerson, a 6-5, 280-pounder from Tennessee, was impressive in the spring mini-camps. The Raiders first had him down as a right tackle but since have pointed him to right guard. They consider him a prospect more than a contender for a starting job now. Right guard figures to be contested by free agent Dean Miraldi, second-year Raider Bill Lewis and the incumbent, Mickey Marvin.

The signing leaves only veteran linemen Don Mosebar and Shelby Jordan out of camp.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World