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Raiders Put Williams on Hold, Eye Foster

March 01, 1995|BILL PLASCHKE and STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Far apart in negotiations with leading rusher Harvey Williams, the Raiders are trying to trade for Pittsburgh Steeler running back Barry Foster, NFL sources said.

The Raiders met with the Steelers at the recent NFL scouting combine and discussed surrendering at least one front-line player and a high draft pick for Foster, who rushed for 851 yards last season despite missing most of six games because of injuries.

Meanwhile, the Raiders have decided not to offer a coaching position to Tom Walsh, the former offensive coordinator who clashed repeatedly last season with quarterback Jeff Hostetler and receiver Tim Brown. Walsh, however, might be offered an administrative position within the organization.

The Raiders, said a source close to the negotiations, were willing to offer an annual salary of about $1 million to Williams, a bargain in the free-agent market last season at $250,000.

But Williams, who spent the previous three years unsuccessfully trying to prove himself with the Kansas City Chiefs, balked, insisting that he is worth $2 million a year.

He recently changed agents, but that has brought him no closer to signing with the Raiders.

Williams outgained Foster last season, rushing for a career-high 983 yards. But Foster, selected for the Pro Bowl in two of his five NFL seasons and the AFC rushing champion in 1992 with 1,690 yards, is a more bruising runner between the tackles and considered the perfect complement to the Raider passing game.

Jordan Woy, agent for Foster and Williams, said he has heard of the Raiders' interest.

"Talking with both teams, they have certainly downplayed the deal, saying nothing is imminent," he said. "But if it did happen, it would not surprise me."

Although the Steelers say they would like to keep Foster, the emergence of rookie running back Bam Morris last season has made him expendable. Morris rushed for 836 yards, 15 fewer than Foster, but with 18 fewer carries.

The Steelers gave Foster most of the carries in the playoffs. He responded with 133 yards in a second-round victory against the Cleveland Browns but gained only 47 yards in the AFC championship game loss to the San Diego Chargers.

The Raiders' biggest problem with Foster is his salary cap number for this season --around $2.7 million, more than double the offer to Williams.

The Raiders' new coach, Mike White, continues to assemble his staff. Bishop Harris, former Denver Bronco running back coach, was hired for that job with the Raiders, replacing Jack Reilly, who left to become offensive coordinator of the Rams.

The Raiders also hired Mike Wilson, who spent 10 years with the San Francisco 49ers as a receiver, as their wide receivers coach. Wilson spent the last three seasons as receivers coach at Stanford under Bill Walsh.

Fred Biletnikoff, who was the Raider receivers coach, has been given the position of quality control for the offense. He will scout upcoming opponents and analyze the Raider offense.

Raider Notes

Cornerback Lionel Washington, having already talked to the Denver Broncos and the Detroit Lions, is due to visit the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday. The Raiders say they are still interested in signing the 12-year veteran, an unrestricted free agent who lost his starting job last season to Albert Lewis. . . . Sandra Lynn Gardner, one of the first persons hired by Al Davis when he joined the Raiders 32 years ago, died Friday at age 53. Cause of death was not announced. Gardner helped manage the Raiders' administrative offices. In lieu of flowers, her family asks that contributions be made to the Alzheimer's Assn. of Los Angeles.

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