$1.15M in savings if released, no dead money.
Taiwan Jones feels like a forgotten man on the roster. As a player who has flashed tremendous potential due to his athleticism, Taiwan was just never able to put it all together.
The team moved him around to try to find the best use of his ability, but he didn’t have any more success at cornerback than he did at running back.
Jones was once considered a valuable member of the team due to his special teams contributions, but even his impact that was minimized in 2016. Taiwan was replaced as the kick returner, and while he still was a notable special teams player, the Raiders have other special teams players capable of taking over at gunner.
The only thing that might keep Jones around is that he is a low-dollar contract, so $1.15M is a drop in the bucket. McKenzie might not consider that enough of savings, and could just keep him around.
Prediction: Taiwan gets released.
$690,000 in savings if released, $111,300 in dead money.
Like Taiwan, most of McGill’s contributions come on special teams these days. He never panned out at cornerback, and converting him to safety in 2016 didn’t work out much better.
To McGill’s credit, he was a stud on special teams. Players like him are often overlooked and under-appreciated. But at the same time, his contributions aren’t irreplaceable.
However, McGill is entering the final year of his contract. Even though the dead money hit is minor ($111,300), why cut bait when McKenzie can just wait a year out, benefit from McGill’s special team contributions, and let him walk next offseason?
Prediction: McGill stays.
$563,669 in savings if released, $102,662 in dead money.
Neiron Ball — a one-time folk hero of Raider Nation.
If you don’t recall, Ball was looked at like a future Hall of Famer when he took over for the inept Curtis Lofton, and temporarily solved Oakland’s issues of covering tight ends. Or to phrase that better, Oakland’s complete inability to cover tight ends.
Unfortunately, Neiron couldn’t maintain that level of performance, and worse, he can’t even stay on the field. He appeared in only six games in 2015, and then missed the entire 2016 season.
With minimal contributions and an extensive injury history, that’s not a recipe for reliability. And with the position being in such need of help, McKenzie will need to find a player who can 1) be on the field and 2) make an impact when on the field.
Neiron might be able to accomplish the latter, but it’s no guarantee.
I wish he could have been something — I, too, was optimistic in 2015. But it might be time to move on.
Prediction: Neiron gets released.
$554,319 in savings if released, $121,362 in dead money.
Similar things that were just said for Neiron Ball could be said for Ben Heeney.
Heeney has been on the field much more than Ball has, but his impact has been nil. In fact, that might be generous. His impact has been worse than nil.
After a poor start to 2016, Heeney was deservedly stripped of the green dot sticker, which is assigned to the player in charge of communicating the play calls to the defense.
Despite his high-end athleticism, Heeney has struggled in most of the areas necessary to succeed at the position — he struggles to shed blocks, he misses too many tackles, and for as athletic as he is, it’s hard to believe how much of a liability he is in coverage.
Heeney’s benching should say everything needed to say here. He didn’t make that much of an impact on special teams, and Cory James proved himself as a depth option, and maybe more, going forward.
There’s simply no need to keep Heeney around.
Prediction: Heeney gets released.