The Las Vegas Raiders began their salary-chopping season for 2020 on Monday when they cut linebacker and captain a Tahir Whitehead after two seasons with the club. Whitehead lost playing time toward the end of last season and his release saved the Raiders $6.25 million, so it was no surprise.
The Raiders have more than $56 million to spend in free agency, which starts next week. This means that they don’t have to release anymore players, but more cuts are still possible as the team tries to get as lean as possible prior to the spending in free agency.
Let’s look at some players who are potential release candidates. No, Derek Carr isn’t on this list. If he isn’t on the Raiders next season, he will more likely have been traded than cut. So I’ll start with the other Derek ...
Derek Carrier: The Raiders would only save $1.85 million by cutting the veteran backup tight end. But I hear the Raiders really like him, so if they do cut him it may be a mild surprise.
Johnathan Hankins: There is some dead cap money involved with this deal, and the Raiders would save about $2.7 million by cutting Hankins after the dead money is accounted for. He is a solid player, but the Raiders will likely try to upgrade at defensive tackle. So, if they are comfortable with the small dead-money hit, Hankins could be on the chopping block.
Erik Harris: Cutting him would save $2.5 million. I like Harris. He has his limitations, but he is a gamer and good for the locker room. While the Raiders may look for an upgrade at safety, I’d keep him around.
Gabe Jackson: Jackson will be 29 in July and didn’t have a great 2019 season. He was injured and missed a total of eight games the past two seasons. Cutting him would save $9.6 million on the cap ... that’s a lot of money. But the Raiders are in good cap shape and I’d give Jackson a year to rebound.
Also, there is a chance he could be traded according to Ian Rapoport’s NFL Network report this morning. Perhaps the Raiders could get a mid-round pick back.
Two intriguing names that have been discussed in trade talks as the league year nears opening: #Ravens QB Robert Griffin III and #Raiders G Gabe Jackson, sources say. Jackson is due $9.6M and RGIII is due $2M. Both contracts are not guaranteed and both are tradable.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 10, 2020
Zay Jones: Cutting Jones would save $1.89 million. The Raiders gave up a fifth-round pick to Buffalo for Jones last year. He didn’t make an impact, catching 20 passes in 11 games for the Raiders. The team will look to upgrade at receiver and Jones could be at risk of being cut.
Where do you think the Raiders will trim their roster?