Five Oakland Raiders That Won’t Be Back in 2018
Despite a humiliating loss to the New England Patriots in Mexico City, the season isn’t quite over for the Oakland Raiders. They’ll need a little help, but a division title and a shot at the post-season are still in the cards for the Silver and Black. However, you couldn’t hold it against Raider Nation if they wanted to look towards the future. Here are five Raiders that won’t be back in 2018.
The minute that Giorgio Tavecchio nailed a 52-yard field goal against the Tennessee Titans, the man they call “Seabass” knew his days were numbered. Janikowski has been a key part of the Raiders since Al Davis made him a first-round pick back in 2000, and many fans don’t want to see the “Polish Cannon” go, but at the end of the day, the NFL is a business, so if you have a chance to switch to a younger, cheaper option? You absolutely have to take it. Hopefully Janikowski will retire a Raider, and we’ll never have to see him nail 56 yarders for other teams.
Many people are to blame for Oakland’s defensive struggles. Reggie McKenzie’s drafting has been inconsistent, Jack Del Rio isn’t an “X’s and O’s guy,” and Ken Norton Jr.’s time with the team was a disaster. However, when you go back and watch the big plays that the Raiders defense has given up over the last two years, one thing is pretty consistent. Reggie Nelson is usually the one at the bottom of the screen while a wide receiver scores a long touchdown.
Nelson has been a huge disappointment for the Silver and Black, and hopefully, Obi Melifonwu will be ready to start next season and they won’t feel the need to re-sign Nelson. Many fans, myself included, feel like it would be smart to move the versatile Karl Joseph to free safety, allowing Obi to move in at strong safety.
Sean Smith has been very unpopular in Oakland since his very first game with the team. Smith was brought in to play the “Richard Sherman” role in Norton’s Seattle defense, and instead, he was more like Brian Bosworth. In his first game with the Raiders, he gave up a 98 yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks, and it was a sign of things to come. He has only had two interceptions with the Raiders, and they’d be better off without him.
The Raiders hope they can re-sign T.J. Carrie, and that Gareon Conley actually plays next year, but they’ll likely move on from Smith, who has seen his snaps decrease, even with Oakland’s secondary depleted by injuries. The coaches tried to move Smith around to find a home for him, but ultimately, he’s a liability on defense.
Unlike Sean Smith, David Amerson actually showed signs of life for Oakland. When the team picked him up off waivers, he came in and made an immediate impact. He started 12 games for the Raiders in 2015 and looked like a starting corner for the team. He was given a four-year contract extension during that off-season, and he hasn’t been the same since. He’s been more productive than Smith, but with Khalil Mack’s contract coming up, the team can’t afford to keep any dead weight.
When the Raiders signed Bruce Irvin to a four-year contract worth up to $37 million, they clearly expected him to come in and make an impact. They believed that opposite Mack, Irvin could take advantage of match-ups and be a legitimate pass rusher. Two years and nine and a half sacks later, this obviously wasn’t the case.
Maybe he was playing out of position, maybe the defensive scheme was holding him back, or maybe Irvin just isn’t a pass rusher. Regardless, the Raiders didn’t get their money’s worth in Irvin, and it might be time to say goodbye. The Raiders would save over $8 million dollars without any significant cap consequences, and with a draft pick that figures to be in the teens, they could grab a legitimate pass rusher in the first round.
If the Raiders cut the three aforementioned players, and don’t re-sign the dead weight, the team would save $22,750,000. Add that to the projected cap, and the team would have $36,872,214 at their disposal. Say what you will about Reggie McKenzie, but there’s no question he’s a genius when it comes to designing contracts. The Raiders will need to re-sign Khalil Mack and then stay competitive in free agency, and these cuts would allow just that.