As most Las Vegas Raiders fans are aware of, head coach Josh McDaniels’ offensive line has been a never-ending project. The team has already seen double-digit starting lineup combinations this season. Other than time missed due to a concussion, one stalwart has been center Andre James. Interestingly enough, Bleacher Report recently suggested that the Raiders cut James this offseason. That begs the question: are they onto something or way off?
Would the Las Vegas Raiders actually cut their starting center?
Bleacher Report writer Alex Ballentine made some notable points regarding James and what his future looks like from a financial standpoint. His current deal has an uptick in value next year when its cap hit increases to $5.5 million, per Spotrac. Considering his position, the Raiders’ brass will need to weigh his value on the field against what might be available. James isn’t a bad center by any means, but Ballentine did mention that he’s currently ranked 28th out of 39 centers in the NFL. At the same time, this was a transition year for the Raiders under a new head coach. As evidenced by Josh Jacobs’ 2022 campaign, the group has done an excellent job of run-blocking. So, there’s definitely a flip side to that coin.
According to Pro Football Focus, James’ pass-blocking has improved, albeit marginally. His grade in that department went from 67.2 to 69.3, respectively. As a whole, the Raiders’ offense has been a bright spot this year. Despite what many perceive as a poor unit in terms of pass-blocking, their scoring would tell you otherwise. The thing about PFF grades is that they’re just opinions, like anything else. Many Raiders fans take these grades with a grain of salt, and you’d be hard-pressed to believe that the Raiders take them into account.
James has had several key plays throughout this season that have stood out on film. Would you consider him “elite?” No, he’s just not at that level. But is he so terrible he needs to be cut to save nearly $3 million? The Raiders could draft a center next April or perhaps pursue a free agent such as Ethan Pocic. For a group that thrives off of continuity, chemistry, and gelling, scraping its interior leader is probably not the smartest move if you’re Dave Ziegler.
*Top Photo: Sports Illustrated/Raider Maven