It seems almost daily I read a comment from a fan to myself or another sports writer insisting the Raiders need to cut DJ Hayden. It's ridiculous and it needs to stop.
Most commonly the reasoning behind the demand is simply the opinion that he's no good. That opinion is magnified due to Hayden being a former 12 overall pick who hasn't lived up to his draft status and who fell down the depth chart last season. But that doesn't mean he should automatically be cut.
If it were a matter of the team needing cap space and cutting Hayden would save them money, perhaps it could make sense, but neither is the case.
The Raiders still have some $30 million to spend under the cap and since all the big money free agents have been signed, that money can go a long way, even with front loaded deals. Also Hayden represents a cap hit of $3.3 million this season, but all of that would be left behind in dead money if he were cut. What it comes down to is would you rather the Raiders pay $3.3 for Hayden on the roster or pay $3.3 million for him on someone else's roster?
If it's about clearing a valuable roster spot, that doesn't make sense either. Teams are allowed 90 players on the roster. Are you so sure that the Raiders can pick up enough street free agents and/or draft picks and/or undrafted rookies who would make Hayden expendable?
Do you think the Raiders have officially given up on Hayden's potential? His falling down the depth chart and out of favor with Ken Norton Jr may suggest that, but I guarantee they are still holding out hope for this former top pick who Reggie McKenzie insisted he would have drafted at third overall had he not traded down to the 12 pick.
The truth is, there is absolutely no reason to even consider cutting DJ Hayden right now. Letting him stick around into training camp and compete for a roster spot, or even a starting spot one more time is the only option. If he suddenly turns it around and realizes his potential, you'll be glad the Raiders didn't cut bait with Hayden prematurely. If he doesn't, then they can either waive him with the regular season roster cut down or attempt to get some compensation in trade. Nothing is lost in the venture.