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Some Big Names Unprotected by Raiders : Haynes, Lofton, Christensen Among Those to Be Free Agents

February 02, 1989|MARK HEISLER | Times Staff Writer

The Raiders have protected 37 players for the National Football League's upcoming first free-agent period, but the ones they've left exposed look like the cast from one of their mid-'80s highlight films.

Free to take bids from other teams in the Feb. 2-April 1 period, according to a Raider source, are:

Mike Haynes.

James Lofton.

Todd Christensen.

Rod Martin.

Linden King.

Chris Bahr.

Charley Hannah.

Ron Fellows.

That's both of their starting cornerbacks last season, both outside linebackers, two star receivers, their longtime left guard and their kicker throughout this decade.

All were starters last season, all are over age 30 and all were highly paid. The Raiders are hoping that the other teams, few of which pay Raider scale, will pass on them.

The biggest surprise is Haynes, the oldest and highest paid of the exposed Raiders. A Hall of Fame candidate-in-waiting, he was facing the possibility of being cut in training camp last season, but came back to have a strong season. He could conceivably attract some interest, even though he's 35 and earns about $750,000 annually.

Lofton, 32, will make $725,000 next season between salary ($525,000) and his reporting bonus ($200,000). He can still play, but he had a down season and would face a tough fight next season to beat out Tim Brown, Willie Gault and Mervyn Fernandez.

Christensen, 32, missed most of last season with a leg injury, may need additional surgery, has gone from 92 receptions to 47 to 12 since 1986 and was at $750,000 last season.

Martin, 34, the dean of the Raiders, and their right outside linebacker since 1978, was only a part-time starter last season, leaving the field when the Raiders used a four-man line. He isn't thought to figure highly in the team's plans.

Nor is Linden King, 33, the left outside linebacker, who is considering retirement.

Bahr, 35, the Raider kicker since 1980, had a down season in 1987, got off to a slow start in '88 and almost lost his job to John Lee early in the season before rallying.

Fellows, 32, gave the Raiders a decent season as a surprise starter at left cornerback. However, the expected return of Terry McDaniel, out with a broken leg for all but a couple of games of his rookie season, would drop Fellows to second string.

Hannah, 33, a starting guard for most of the last six seasons, has undergone reconstructive knee surgery.

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