We’ve covered those players who are set to hit free agency and what priority the team should place on keeping them around. Then there are those players who are under contract who may not be too much longer. Here are the Raiders players who shouldn’t get too comfortable.
This big nose tackle was among the Raiders’ priority free agent signings in the 2015 offseason. In his first season with the team, he earned his contract. Last season, that was no longer the case.
When the players took the field for training camp, Williams was no longer working with the first team. He had been supplanted by Justin Ellis. Jack Del Rio said Williams was just a bit behind, suggesting it was an ongoing competition between the two. A month later, camp was done and not once did Williams take a turn with the first team.
Once the season came, Williams was part of the nose tackle rotation with the chance to distinguish himself as the deserved starter. He was never able to do that and even saw his snaps go down as the season went along.
Set to represent a $4.5 million cap hit with no dead money if he is cut, he is very much a prime candidate to be seeking employment elsewhere this offseason.
Howard was the new regime’s first big free agent signing. He came over from the Jets as a former right tackle which the team moved to guard. In his first season at guard, he didn’t perform well, but the new coaching staff kept him around in part because of the large amount of dead money due to a prorated signing bonus uncharacteristic of Reggie McKenzie contracts.
Mike Tice decided the best thing was for Howard to move back to right tackle where he would battle Menelik Watson for the starting job. Watson would win that battle in camp, but was lost to a calf injury prior to the start of the season and Howard was the starter all season at right tackle until missing the final three games with an injury. He was a suitable replacement, although not so much to be seen as the long term answer. Watson was injured early last season as well while Howard was once again the weakest link on an otherwise outstanding offensive line. Late in the season, Watson was healthy again and stepped back into the starting role ahead of Howard.
This offseason, for the first time since the Raiders signed Howard back in 2014, the team’s savings from cutting him ($3.6 million) is greater than the amount of dead money he would leave behind ($2.8 million). Paying any money to a player not on the team is not what any team wants to do, but it’s either that or have a $6.4 million cap hit for a player who is at best an insurance plan.