The Raiders enter training camp with a slew of question marks across the roster. A handful of spots on the depth chart are up for grabs, as competition should be fierce for the next month. If things shake out a certain way, a few players could receive a pink slip without ever taking an official snap for the Silver and Black.
General manager Dave Ziegler brought in several veterans, draft picks, and undrafted free agents this offseason. Thus, this list could be considerably longer by the end of the preseason. But let’s zero in on three names that won’t have a roster spot come Week 1.
3 Raiders Who Could Be Cut Without Playing A Snap
No. 1: TE O.J. Howard
Head coach Josh McDaniels loves tight ends like Kanye West loves Kanye West. Okay, maybe not quite that much, but you get the point. McDaniels and Darren Waller never saw eye-to-eye, so the star got sent packing to the Big Apple. In his absence, the Raiders replaced him with veterans and rookies of all shapes and sizes.
Austin Hooper is the leader in the clubhouse for TE1 duties, given his seven-year track record of quality play. Behind him is second-round draft pick Michael Mayer. The Notre Dame alum was my top-rated player at his position in the 2023 class, and I expect him to be a rare rookie tight end that immediately produces.
The Tight End Room Is More Well-Rounded Without Howard
Let’s assume Hooper and Mayer hold down the top two spots in some order. That leaves O.J. Howard and Jesper Horsted to scrap it out for TE3. The former offers more versatility, while the latter actually fits best with the other two names if you ask me.
Howard carries a first-round pedigree. But Horsted is more polished as a blocker — by far. He also spent the 2023 season with Vegas giving him a working relationship with McDaniels. If we have learned anything this offseason, that holds a lot of weight. Sorry O.J., we hardly knew you.
No. 2: CB David Long Jr.
The cornerback position is by no means the best group on the roster. However, it could be the most competitive in training camp. Although Ziegler let Rock Ya-Sin walk in free agency, he was busy adding reinforcements this offseason. Two names in particular intrigue me at corner: Jakorian Bennett and Duke Shelley. Add those two to Nate Hobbs, and it is easy to have optimism.
In 2022, the Raiders kept five cornerbacks. For the sake of this article, we will assume they do the same this year. That would leave David Long Jr., Amik Robertson, and Tyler Hall as the likely competitors for the final two spots on the depth chart. I believe Long Jr. could be the odd man out.
Raiders Will See Fierce Competition At Cornerback
The Rams selected the former Michigan Wolverine in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. In 1,029 career snaps, Long Jr. produced some underwhelming numbers for Los Angeles. In turn, the franchise chose not to bring back the young cornerback. Vegas scooped him up, but he is incredibly inconsistent as a tackler and in coverage. The team’s pass catchers could expose Long Jr. and end his Raiders career before it begins.
No. 3: WR DeAndre Carter
Speaking of those pass catchers, it will be a dogfight for the final spot on the depth chart. Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, and Jakobi Meyers are entrenched up top. One would assume that 2023 third-rounder Tre Tucker is safe as well, albeit primarily as a return man. So, that likely leaves one spot for these two newcomers: DeAndre Carter and Phillip Dorsett.
Carter is the superior player, but Dorsett has previous experience with Ziegler and McDaniels. We have already witnessed the new regime swap out more talented players for better scheme fits, à la Derek Carr, Darren Waller, and Denzel Perryman. This approach makes predicting the fifth wide receiver spot a headache. But if I had to throw a bet down, it would be on the former Patriot.
The Patriot Way Seeps Even Further Into The Raiders Organization
Dorsett can stretch the field with his blazing speed, even if he has never been a steady contributor on offense. Carter is more versatile and the guy I would keep around, but I suspect Dorsett’s relationship with the Raiders brass will be the deciding factor. At the end of the day, both guys are 30-year-old journeymen. If either one logs a heavy dose of snaps in 2023 — something went very wrong for Vegas.
*Top Photo: Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle