An in-depth look at Oakland Raiders offseason — cap casualties, team needs, re-signing players, contract extensions, free agency, and the draft. All in one place.
Following a 12-4 season, the Oakland Raiders are finally relevant again — and for the right reasons, this time. As Reggie McKenzie declared in a recent appearance with 95.7 The Game, “The Raiders are back”.
While the team fell short of their ultimate goal in 2016, they’ll certainly be in the mix once again in 2017. But if they want to turn their Super Bowl dreams into a reality, there are several things the reigning Executive of the Year will have to get done in the offseason.
Here is a complete preview of everything on McKenzie’s to-do list this offseason, from potential cap casualties to the NFL Draft and everything in between.
Let’s get started.
Going in chronological order of how the offseason will progress, we’ll start with potential cap casualties. McKenzie hasn’t been shy about releasing players who underperform — that’s literally all he did when he first took over — and he’s done great work since then in structuring contracts in team-friendly fashion.
The Raiders have somewhere between seven to ten players that could be released from their contracts, depending on who you ask. We’ve already done an in-depth look at cap casualties, so we’ll just do a quick overview here.
The first and most obvious candidate is Sean Smith. There is conflicting information out there on whether or not the Raiders would take a dead money hit if Smith is cut — Over The Cap says $4.25M in dead money while Spotrac says none. But even if the dead money hit is $0, McKenzie might be inclined to give him another chance, perhaps with just a restructuring of his contract.
Some have called for David Amerson to be let go following his regression in 2016, but with one solid year and one average year in Silver in Black, he deserves at least another year to serve as a tiebreaker.
Reggie Nelson had an up and down year, despite what his Pro Bowl appearance might indicate. But as a team captain, his teammates and this staff think highly of his leadership. So he’ll probably stick around as well.
The most notable name, in my opinion, that will be a cap casualty is big Dan Williams. Dan showed up to training camp out of shape and he played like it virtually all season. And with Mario Edwards Jr., Darius Latham, Justin Ellis and Stacy McGee in the mix, the team won’t miss Williams all that much, while also saving a nice chunk of change — $4.5M to be exact.
Most of Raider Nation wants Austin Howard gone, but with a $2.8M dead money hit, it probably won’t happen. Plus, Menelik Watson is a free agent and the team will likely be more willing to just let him walk instead of cutting Howard.
There are a handful of players on smaller contracts that could be in jeopardy of losing a roster spot, such as Taiwan Jones, Keith McGill, Ben Heeney and Neiron Ball. It wouldn’t be surprising to see two or three of them let go — namely Jones, Heeney and Ball.
The elephant in the room is Aldon Smith. But with a low base salary and most of his future money being tied to incentives, the team will likely see this one through until the end.
But with Aldon, it could go either way. There is certainly an argument to give him another chance, just as there is an argument that the Raiders should just cut bait and end the experiment.