It’s been an eventful few days for the Las Vegas Raiders and head coach Josh McDaniels. Among the moves that have generated headlines for the Raiders was the release of Alex Leatherwood. Even though McDaniels tends to keep things close to his chest, he was honest about what led to Leatherwood’s departure.
While speaking to the media recently, McDaniels was asked to comment on the release of Leatherwood. Last year’s first-round choice by the previous regime, the Alabama product was expected to compete for a starting job on the right side of the O-line. However, he failed to live up to expectations and now finds himself with the Chicago Bears.
“We’ve talked about competition since we came here in every position group and trying to give every player an opportunity to earn his job and to earn his role, whatever that role may be – some are bigger than others. We felt like we did that. We gave everybody an opportunity to go out there and play and really perform. There’s a lot of tough decisions that you make across the roster, and you hope you get them all right.”
Did the Raiders and Josh McDaniels make the right call?
There are short-term and long-term aspects to Leatherwood’s release. McDaniels feels that he gave the offensive lineman every chance to compete and make the roster. All offseason, we heard about how important competition was going to be for the Raiders. With that in mind, Leatherwood simply appeared outmatched once the preseason began, and not just by second-stringers. In a season with many goals, including a deep playoff run, having such a liability protecting Derek Carr just didn’t make sense. The long-term effect will hinge on Leatherwood’s success post-Raiders. If he turns out to be a serviceable guide, many might look back and question whether more patience should’ve been exercised.
“We’re not perfect at that, so hopefully, we did the best we could for our team, and we tried to make the decisions that we thought would help us going forward. (I) wish Alex [Leatherwood] nothing but the best. He did everything he could here to try to earn his role here. I wish him the best as he goes forward.”
While this current Raiders regime has no ties to him as a draft pick, it surely wasn’t an easy call for McDaniels. Nevertheless, the coach stands by his decision and holds no ill will; rather, he wishes him the best.
*Top Photo: Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun