Way Too Early Raiders Cuts Amid Covid-19

On July 3, The National Football Players Association voted unanimously to cancel the 2020 preseason. That happened after the NFL had already cut it in half due to the spread of Covid-19.

This past offseason, the Las Vegas Raiders added plenty of players in both free agency and the draft. Rookies will set foot at the new Raiders Headquarters in Henderson, Nevada, on July 21st while veterans report on July 28th. Without time to evaluate fringe roster talent, they are going to have to scramble in order to make cuts.

Enduring a tumultuous offseason filled with uncertainty and doubt, the Raiders and the rest of the NFL have scrapped their entire offseason workout program. All official communications have been through zoom meetings in order to comply with  pandemic guidelines. With no official team activities (OTAS), or practices, the task of cutting players will be even more difficult. Let us take a look at some players who may get the pink slip by the start of the season.

Wide Receivers

Quarterback Derek Carr couldn’t find many receivers to throw to after Week Five. The Raiders sought to rectify this issue by selecting Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards this past draft. Nelson Agholor and Siaosi Mariner joined the team as free agents. These four will battle Tyrell Williams, Zay Jones, Hunter Renfrow, Marcell Ateman, Rico Gafford, Keelan Doss, Anthony Ratliff-Williams and De’Mornay Pierson-El.

Cut list: Doss, Gafford, Ratliff-Williams, and Pierson-El won’t likely make the team. The Raiders can sign Ateman and Mariner to their practice squad.

Doss re-signed this past May after shining through a productive preseason in 2019. However, once the bullets started flying for real, he didn’t have a genuine impact. Gafford possessed the coveted speed the offense needed. Nonetheless, he couldn’t sniff the field. Ateman has mostly been a practice squad player and lacks speed. Mariner is a wild card. The Raiders are much more likely to put Mariner on the practice squad.

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Cornerback

The Raiders expect former second round pick Trayvon Mullen to take a big step after having a good rookie season. Keisean Nixon and Nevin Lawson showed promise, but the secondary needed help desperately. Meanwhile, Lamarcus Joyner will be the starter at slot corner. Isaiah Johnson had a fractured face and concussion. He ended up getting the injured reserve designated for return list. The Raiders selected Damon Arnette in the first round and Amik Robertson in the fourth. The Raiders signed Ken Crawley in January and Prince Amukamara after the draft to round out the bunch.

Cut list: The Raiders can never have too many pass defenders. The Raiders can only make a couple maneuvers. Crawley is a camp body. Crawley’s best season was in 2017 for the New Orleans Saints. Crawley’s production faltered in both 2018 and 2019. Moving Joyner back to safety is what may be best for him, as his slot play was subpar last season.

Running Backs

Josh Jacobs’ rookie season was a revelation until injury brought it to an abrupt end. Fullback Alec Ingold made the Pro Bowl as an alternate, while Jalen Richard had an underwhelming season. The Raiders selected Lynn Bowden Jr. in the draft and signed free agent Devontae Booker, along with Rod Smith and William Stanback to help bolster their backfield.

Cut List: Smith and Stanback are the low hanging fruit. The Raiders last cut decision is between Booker and Richard. Preseason is usually what identifies who is getting cut. If the Raiders cut Booker, continuity was most likely the deciding factor. If Richard gets cut, impact and production could be the reason.

Edge

Maxx Crosby, Clelin Ferrell, and Arden Key are 2019 holdovers at the edge position. Crosby was a defensive rookie of the year candidate. Ferrell had a good season opening game against the Broncos. The rest of Ferrell’s season was a mixed result. The Raiders added Jeremiah Valoaga, Ade Aruna and Kendall Vickers to the roster for depth. Finally, the Raiders could looking to acquire another marquee free agent or veteran.

Cut List:  Valoaga, Aruna and Vickers are all camp bodies and if cut it’s not surprising. Key needs to have added muscle, and/or display an ability to get the ball carrier on the ground. However, if Key took his offseason seriously and earned his gains in the weight room he will stay.

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Top Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

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