The new Las Vegas Raiders regime of Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels began with the longtime friends tied at the hip. Zeigler as the general manager and McDaniels as the head coach in a two-for-one type deal for owner Mark Davis.
The Silver & Black will be a direct vision of Ziegler and McDaniels and championships are the ultimate goal. While McDaniels’ input does have quite the heft, when it comes to roster, Ziegler is the one in full control and is the final arbiter. As such, the Raiders’ roster moves on Tuesday — to go from the 90 to the NFL-mandated 85-man roster limit — is just a taste of what’s to come:
- Vernon Butler, defensive tackle
- Demarcus Robinson, wide receiver
- Nate Brooks, cornerback
- Gerri Green, defensive end
- Tyrone Wheatley Jr., offensive tackle
Shuffled in between the releasing and waiving came a trade where the Raiders sent safety Tyree Gillespie to the Tennessee Titans for a conditional 2024 seventh-round draft pick, according to NFL reporter Aaron Wilson of the Pro Football Network.
Titans cut Briley Moore after acquiring safety Tyree Gillespie via trade from the Raiders for conditional 2024 seventh-round draft pick— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) August 17, 2022
With the August 16 date come and gone, here’s what remains for Ziegler:
- August 23: 85 to 80 players
August 30: 80 to 53 players
(The deadline for cuts is 4 p.m. ET on each date.)
Robinson’s dismissal is a mild surprise as the veteran wide out seemed to be in the mix at the fight for snaps. Turns out, the position group is deep and one had to go. Letting the veteran go this early allows him ample time to land with another team.
Butler, on the other hand, was let go after two inconsequential outings in the Raiders two preseason tilts so far. Brought in compete at defensive tackle, Butler didn’t showcase much during his stint in Silver & Black and wasn’t a stout presence against the run or rushing the passer.
Suffice it to say, but the Ziegler has much tougher choices looming. Getting to the 85-man limit from 90 is relatively easy. Now, don’t get me wrong, letting a player know they’re no longer part of the team is a difficult task because of the human element and emotion involved. But identifying who to cast aside when the number is in the single digits is going to smoother than when the Raiders have to wax 27 players from the roster on August 30. Before that, five more transactions must occur on August 23 to get to the 80-man roster limit.
Tough choices are a good thing for the Raiders. That means the decisions are thoughtful ones with coaches and other player personnel making pitches to Ziegler on who to keep and who to release. Those pitches are often spirted discussions which mean there’s an attachment there for coaches. If the choices are easy, that dampens the “everyone is competing” for roster spots mantra the new regime has pushed from the start. Competition means everyone is one another to a new level and in turn, makes getting rid of someone that much harder to do — in theory.
McDaniels may have been speaking about the cornerbacks when he said this, but it’s a comment that holds true for the entire roster:
“Like we’ve said all along, there’s competition at every spot, so they certainly have had opportunity to go out there and earn a role with some of the things that they’ve been able to do in practice and competed hard yesterday in the game,” McDaniels said during his media session on Monday. “That’s what this is all about, you make the most of your chances, and when other people go in there they have to make the most of their opportunities as well.”
The cut down to the 53-man roster on August 30 merits watching for not only who the Raiders may send packing, but for who Las Vegas may add when other teams jettison talent. The other 31 teams in the league will have to make similar difficult decisions to get to the regular season roster limit and that’ll mean some quality talent hitting the free agency wire.
And that goes beyond the dash teams will make to build their practice squads which will consist of 16 players (as opposed to 10 just a few years ago).