For weeks now, it has been speculated that Raiders linebacker Kamerion Wimbley would need to restructure his contract or be cut. Now, according to Jason LaCanfora of NFL.com, the team has notified Wimbley that is indeed the case.
The Raiders sack leader from two seasons ago, received a huge new deal last offseason to keep him with the team long term. That deal carries with it $11 million for each of the next two seasons followed by $10 million in 2014 and $11.5 million in 2015.
$6.5 million is already guaranteed for next season but the Raiders can save an additional cap hit of $4.5 million if they were to cut him prior to March 17. But that is only the most immediate problem with regards to the salary cap situation of which the Raiders stand to be over by an estimated $22 million.
Here are the details according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk:
But here's the bigger problem, more than three times more significant than the $4.5 million in 2012 cap space that would be saved by cutting Wimbley now. A league source with knowledge of the Wimbley contract says that, if he's on the roster on the fifth day of the 2012 league year (i.e., March 17), the $4.5 million becomes fully guaranteed, an $11 million salary guarantee vests for 2013 and another $2 million in guaranteed money locks in for 2014.
These aren't your parent's Raiders. They don't push salary on to the next season to deal with later. They also look at total cost as opposed to just cost against the cap. They proved this when Stanford Routt was cut to avoid owing him $5 million guaranteed despite the over $10 million in dead money he left with the team.
Cutting Wimbley now would save the team a total of $17.5 million in guaranteed money over the life of the contract including the $4.5 million against the cap in 2012.
But cutting Wimbley is not ideal. The team would much rather restructure his deal and hold onto him as he is an important piece to this team. And now we are hearing that Wimbley has backed off his stance that he would not take a pay cut to stay with the team. This is either a situation in which Wimbley was misunderstood initially, mis-reported, or simply had a change of stance.
Either way, when head coach Dennis Allen spoke at the combine last week in which he was very non-committal on the idea that Wimbley and Michael Huff would be back with the team, that was just the right thing to say.
If this were just the team playing hard ball to send a message, that would be one thing. In this case, their hands are tied. They have no choice but to hand out ultimatums. I think Wimbley understands that. I also think he understands that, even with a pay cut, he won't make better money elsewhere.