OXNARD — The unknown Raider is a Raider no longer. Malcolm Barnwell, a two-year starter at wide receiver and the least publicized of the team's top offensive weapons, was traded Monday to the Washington Redskins for a No. 2 draft choice.
They did it as much as anything else, to clear the way for Dokie Williams, who is more explosive and thus a better bet to be publicized. Williams becomes the starter on the right side, opposite No. 1 pick Jessie Hester, which is probably the lineup the Raiders have had in mind since draft day. Right now, Williams has a strained right knee, so No. 3 pick Tim Moffett will probably start the Cleveland exhibition, making it two rookie receivers.
The move demonstrates not only Raider confidence in their kids, Hester's Saturday drops notwithstanding, but their agony in cutting the squad to 45. They're considering carrying three wide receivers plus return man Cle Montgomery, who is also the No. 3 running back. If it's four plus Montgomery, Gordon Jones, impressive Saturday, or rookie Mark Pattison, impressive in camp, has a shot.
Barnwell was a seventh-round draft choice in 1980. In the Raider camp, trading him for a second-round pick, even one likely to come up late in the round, is considered a semi-bonanza.
One possible reason for that is the success the Redskins had with another former Raider, Calvin Muhammad. Muhammad had to stand in line with the Raiders--behind Barnwell, among others--but caught 42 passes for a 17.4 average last season for Washington.
Barnwell, a two-year starter, caught 45 passes for an 18.9 yard average last season. But he also carried a rap of being inconsistent, of disappearing after his big games--five catches for 117 yards against Seattle in the '83 playoffs; touchdown catches of 45 and 51 yards last season against San Diego.
The criticism came more from those around the club than the coaches, who defended Barnwell. If he wasn't sensational, he was dependable.
"One way I looked at it, we have a lot of major offensive weapons," Barnwell said. "Sometimes I'd have a great game, but there'd be Cliff (Branch), Marcus (Allen), Todd (Christensen), obviously.
"Sometimes when they did throw me a lot of passes, it made it look like I was great. Sometimes they didn't and it made me look down again. I kept wondering. I'd look at film and see myself being open. We were still winning, and it didn't bother me too much.
"This wasn't a surprise. I was kind of like just waiting for it to happen. And it did.
"There's no frustration. This organization did a lot for me. I went to two Super Bowls with them. Some people go a whole career without going to one. . . . I enjoyed being here. They taught me a lot. A lot of the things I learned about being a receiver, I don't think I'd have gotten anywhere else."
The Raiders will cut their 59 players to 50 today. . . . The Redskins also traded wide receiver Charlie Brown, their last remaining Smurf, to Atlanta, where Coach Dan Henning, a former Redskin assistant, is collecting them. Virgil Seay is already a Falcon, as is halfback Joe Washington. . . . Brown missed 10 games and the playoff loss to the Bears last season with various injuries, sat out a summer mini-camp when Coach Joe Gibbs refused to guarantee him his old starting role, and then got hurt again this exhibition season. He was on the sideline last week when Calvin Muhammad caught four passes against the Patriots. . . . For Brown, the Redskins got guard R.C. Thielemann. Asked if he'd have been interested in Thielemann, Tom Flores said yes. . . . Tackle Shelby Jordan, whose abdominal muscles were rearranged by the blind-side block of Neal Olkewicz, is doubtful for Cleveland. Flores said: "I'm a little concerned. I thought he'd be ready to play this week. It's getting better but it's just not getting better quick enough."