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Hypothetical Oakland Raiders ‘protected players’ list

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What if the NFL were getting an expansion team as the NHL is getting now? Who would the Raiders protect from the expansion draft?

Before the Raiders ever get to Las Vegas, another professional team will be there. They are the expansion Golden Knights of the NHL. Expansion teams make up much of their roster by plucking from other current league teams. Therefore those other teams are given the chance to protect a certain number of players from being nabbed.

On Sunday, NHL teams released their lists of “protected players” who won’t be in the expansion draft for the Las Vegas Knights to potentially select.

Just for fun, let’s imagine there was an expansion team coming into the NFL this season, and the league used the same rules as its hockey brethren.

Here are the guidelines from

“Each team had the option to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters and one goalie. All players with continuing and effective no-movement clauses had to be protected. All first- and second-year professionals are exempt from selection, as are unsigned draft choices.”

Basically any player that joined the Raiders either in the draft or undrafted in 2015 or later need not be protected. They aren’t eligible to be selected in this scenario.

Each NHL team was allowed to protect 11 players from their roster. NFL rosters are quite a bit bigger, so let’s just put the number at 12 protected players.

Derek Carr

Khalil Mack

Rodney Hudson

Kelechi Osemele

Gabe Jackson

Michael Crabtree

Bruce Irvin

David Amerson

Jared Cook

Sean Smith

Marshawn Lynch

Donald Penn


Cordarrelle Patterson, Marshall Newhouse, Austin Howard, Jamize Olawale, Seth Roberts, Justin Ellis, Jelani Jenkins, Reggie Nelson, Denico Autry, TJ Carrie, EJ Manuel, Keith McGill, Marquette King, Taiwan Jones, Lee Smith, Jon Condo, Sebastian Janikowski

The choices near the bottom of the protected list got to be quite difficult. The final few were tough calls as were those who were left unprotected.

They just signed Jared Cook and Marshawn Lynch, inserting both as starters, so they’d rather not let them get stolen away.

Sean Smith has a big contract and the Raiders would like to give him another season to see if 2016 was a fluke. Gareon Conley was drafted as a potential future starter.

Donald Penn is entering perhaps his final NFL season, but the Raiders need him this season. They aren’t yet prepared to let him go and you can bet the idea of getting a Pro Bowl left tackle would be attractive to an expansion team, even at the age of 34.

The unprotected players have some solid talent among them. They just signed Patterson, Newhouse, and Jenkins. Nelson and Patterson are both coming off a Pro Bowl seasons, but Nelson has a replacement in rookie Melifonwu and Patterson’s value is mostly as a return man.

King is one of the league’s better punters, but he is still a punter so placing him above any of the 12 protected players.

It’s a good thing this is purely hypothetical. I’m sure the Raiders would not want to risk losing some of these players.