The Oakland Raiders are still trying to get themselves out from under a number of large contracts that have been preventing them from being big players in the free agent market. Now, it looks like defensive tackle Tommy Kelly may be the next man out the door as a cap casualty.
Kelly told Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle that he believes the team is moving in a new direction and that the writing is on the wall with regards to his future with the team he joined in 2004 as an undrafted rookie free agent. After spending nine seasons with the team, Kelly is likely on the way out the door because despite a few really good seasons, his play has never fully lived up to the big contract he was given in 2008.
After a pretty quiet beginning to the off-season, the Raiders have made a number of moves in recent days in order to clear cap space. First, they re-structured the contracts of guard Mike Brisiel and safety Tyvon Branch. Those two moves have taken the Raiders a reported $8.5 million dollars below the salary cap heading into the beginning of the league year on Tuesday.
With this move, the Raiders would clear another $4.8 million of cap space to spend on re-signing guys like defensive tackle Desmond Bryant, who Kelly said the Raiders would be crazy to let walk away from the team. Kelly went on in his praise of Bryant, saying that he can play any position on the defensive line and can only get better, especially with more playing time.
The Raiders have plenty of their own free agents they will want to bring back. Besides Bryant, tight end Brandon Myers and outside linebacker Philip Wheeler both had big seasons for the Raiders last year, and they are only four of the 17 Raiders set to become free agents. Cutting Kelly would allow them to do re-sign those players they wish to keep and hopefully even create enough space to sign a few free agents from other teams as well.
With the Raiders also expected to cut Rolando McClain at the start of the league year, the question remains, who else is on Reggie McKenzie's hit list?