It is officially July, which means Raiders training camp begins within the month. The team currently has 88 players on the roster with 90 players allowed in camp. This is up from previous seasons when a team could carry 80 players into camp. But the number of players on the squad come the regular seasons is unchanged (53). This means even more players will get the axe in the final cutdowns.
It can be hard not to grow attached to the players this team acquires and drafts. You hear their back stories and foresee infinite possibilities to their potential. It can be a struggle seeing those players as well as players from last season get cut. But tough decisions have to be made, whether it be cap casualties at the end of the season, a need for a roster spot at another position, or simply a misjudgment of talent.
Just this offseason alone, the team had to make some difficult decisions. Players from last season such as Kevin Boss, Stanford Routt, Kamerion Wimbley, Samson Satele, Michael Bush, Jason Campbell, and Chaz Schilens are all now gone. They have all signed with other teams. And the Raiders can only hope they won't find out at some point that they made a mistake in letting them go.
These come just a year after the team let Nnamdi Asomugha, Robert Gallery, and Zach Miller all leave as free agents. Thus far, none of those players have given the Raiders any reason for regret.
Here is the short list of players that top the list of those that got away.
10. LB Danny Clark
The former seventh round pick by the Jags was picked up as a free agent by the Raiders in 2004. When he was swiped up by the Raiders, he immediately shot out the gates to start every game that season at strong side linebacker posting an astounding 130 tackles. He followed that performance up with 113 tackles the next season. But despite those totals, the Raiders let him go and he went on to become a key starter at outside linebacker for two seasons with the New York Giants and two with the Saints. All the while the Raiders struggled with a different strong side linebacker each of the next five seasons (2006-2010).
9. LB Thomas Howard
Howard was drafted by the Raiders in the second round of the 2006 draft out of UTEP. He teamed up with Kirk Morrison to form "The Law Firm" and spent the first five seasons of his career in Oakland. But by the fifth season, Morrison was gone and Thomas was being phased out. The team moved on from him and replaced him with Quentin Groves. But while Groves struggled mightily last season as the full time starter, Howard started 15 games for the Bengals collecting 105 tackles. Howard proved over his first three seasons in the NFL that he can be quite good when he is used properly. He averaged over 100 tackles in those three seasons and had six interceptions his sophomore campaign. It took him leaving the Raiders to get back to the kind of production of which he was capable. The Raiders have since traded for Aaron Curry in the hopes he can fulfill the weak side linebacker position that Howard once patrolled so well.
8. DE Chris Clemons
After two mediocre seasons in Washington to start his career, he game to Oakland in 2007 and had a breakout season. He had 8.0 sacks that season as a situational pass rusher, but the Raiders let him leave. He then went to the Eagles and returned to his average status for two seasons. But then in 2010, the Seahawks signed him and he exploded with 11.0 sacks each that past two seasons. The Raiders haven't gotten that kind of production from the defensive end spot since Derrick Burgess had 11.0 sacks in 2006. And no other Raider defensive end has topped Clemons' 8.0 sacks since he left after the 2007 season.
7. S Renaldo Hill
Only spent one season in the Silver and Black and then he was released after the team drafted Michael Huff in the first round of the '06 draft. I would say that going all-in and counting on Huff was a bit premature. Hill had already shown his mettle. He had his best season in the pros while with the Raiders-- notching 89 tackles (75 solo). And he didn't exactly slowed down since he moved on either. He had almost equal numbers in each of his three seasons with the Dolphins and his two seasons in Denver. Just like DT and SLB don't you think the Raiders could have used a good safety like Hill during those dark years?
6. DT Rod Coleman
Was drafted by the Raiders in the late fifth round in 1999 and he spent five years on the team. But just as he was hitting his stride (11 sacks in 2002), the Raiders let him leave as a free agent. He signed with the Falcons and immediately had three of his best seasons as a pro. The first two of those seasons he had 11.5 and 10.5 sacks respectively. He spent four seasons in Atlanta and became a free agent 2007 at which point many Raider fans called for the team to bring him back but apparently the Raiders were just too happy with the work of Gerard Warren and Terdell Sands.