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5 potential surprise cuts

Could be some shockers on Tuesday

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Baltimore Ravens v Las Vegas Raiders
Brandon Parker
Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

The NFL’s final cutdown day is looming for the Las Vegas Raiders, and the rest of the league, where every team will go from 80 players on the roster to 53. With 27 guys about to get let go, the Raiders are bound to have at least a few surprises, especially since the roster is constructed with a bunch of draft picks and free agents from the previous regime.

Current head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler have already made it clear that they don’t care how much or how high Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock paid or drafted players. They’ll keep the 53 men who they think can help the team win in 2022, leaving the door open to getting rid of some high-profile acquisitions from the previous campaigns.

So, who might some of those players be?

Brandon Parker

When your best ability is availability, it becomes pretty hard to find reseason to keep you around when you’re no longer available.

While there was an open competition in place, Parker entered training camp as the Raiders’ starting right tackle. However, an abysmal performance in the Hall of Fame game where he looked overmatched against rookie Travon Walker and gave up two sacks on just 16 opportunities cast some doubt on his status as a starter. On top of that, the five-year vet suffered a “significant injury”, per The Athletic’s Tashan Reed, and hasn’t been back on the field to get redemption ever since.

Parker could technically make the team and then get put on injured reserve the following day so that he can return at some point during the season. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see McDaniels roll with Jermaine Eluemunor, Alex Leatherwood and Thayer Munford at right tackle, especially since it’s looking like Parker won’t be available for Week 1 anyway.

Salary cap implications via OverTheCap.com: Raiders save $838k and eat $2.662m in dead cap by cutting Parker.

Clelin Ferrell

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Las Vegas Raiders v Cincinnati Bengals
Clelin Ferrell
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

I almost feel like I’m cheating or taking the low-hanging fruit by listing Ferrell as a “surprise cut” since a lot of people have already speculated he might be on his way out.

It’s not the 2019 No. 4 overall pick’s fault he was over-drafted, but he simply hasn’t produced and there’s no room for him in the starting lineup. With the emergence of Malcolm Koonce and Tashawn Bower this month, the position room is getting a little crowded, too. Plus, it doesn't help that Ferrell didn’t play in a preseason game until Friday and just returned to practice this week after being out since the end of July.

The only thing that may keep him on the roster is the impact, or lack thereof, on the salary cap — see below — but I also wouldn’t be shocked if he asks for a release so he can start fresh somewhere else.

Salary cap implications: Raiders save $0 and eat $9,978,442 in dead cap.

Amik Robertson

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Miami Dolphins
Amik Robertson
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Robertson will be a case of what the new coaching staff places a bigger emphasis on, practice or preseason game performance.

If it’s the former, he should be alright as there were several reports that he was playing well during the beginning of training camp. He did suffer a minor injury that held him out of the Jaguars' matchup, but he returned for the bouts against the Vikings and Dolphins. The problem is he didn’t look great in either of those contests, allowing four completions on five targets for 62 yards without a pass breakup or interception, earning a 39.4 PFF coverage grade.

With Trayvon Mullen, Rock Ya-Sin and Darius Phillips serving as the starters, and Anthony Averett and Darius Philips likely taking two backup roles, Robertson will have to prove his worth on special teams to secure the sixth corner spot. My gut says the Louisiana Tech product will make the team but be on thin ice heading into the regular season.

Salary cap implications: Raiders save $895k and eat $123.6k in dead cap

Neil Farrell Jr.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Las Vegas Raiders
Neil Farrell Jr.
Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

I’ll preface this section with this; of all the players on this list, I would be the most surprised if Farrell Jr. gets let go. He was Las Vegas’ third pick of the draft (fourth round) and is a young, developmental player who could get picked up off waivers by another team. That being said, his performances over the last month have left something to be desired.

At LSU, the former Tiger was known as a stout run defender who led SEC defensive tackles with an 89.9 grade in that department and 24 run stops. However, those figures have dropped to 36.8 and one during the preseason, and his run defense grade is the lowest among the Raiders’ DTs by about 15 points. In other words, he’s getting out-played in what was supposed to be his strength as a prospect.

Farrell Jr. has been better as a pass rusher but still only has three pressures — none since the Hall of Fame game — and the second-lowest win rate (9.1 percent) within the team’s position group, minimum 10 pass rushes.

I could see defensive coordinator Patrick Graham rolling with Bilal Nichols and Johnathan Hankins as the starting defensive tackles, and then Andrew Billings, Kyle Peko and Matthew Butler as the backups, hoping to stash the fourth-round pick on the practice squad.

Again, is cutting Farrell likely? Probably not, but it’s also not off the table. Between Neil and Clelin, there might be a few feral cats running around Sin City...please forgive me for the bad dad joke, I had to!

Salary cap implications: Raiders save $705k and eat $180,076 in dead cap.

Keelan Cole

Las Vegas Raiders v Miami Dolphins
Keelan Cole
Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

Cole is another guy that I would consider a “jaw-dropper” if he is let go, but at the same time, I don’t think it’s off the table. Mainly, the reasons I think he might be on the chopping block have less to do with his performances and more to do with the rise of other receivers over the last month.

If McDaniels is going to keep five running backs and fullbacks — Josh Jacobs, Brandon Bolden, Zamir White, Ameer Abdullah and Jakob Johnson — and four tight ends, then that will likely leave only five wide receiver spots open. Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow aren’t going anywhere and Mack Hollins has seemingly locked down the WR3 role, leaving Cole, Tyron Johnson and DJ Turner to compete for two openings.

The latter three will also be battling it out for kick and punt return duties. Turner stood out against Minnesota with an impressive 26-yard punt return, and Johnson had a 16-yard run back on a kickoff during the same game. Of three, the only guy who hasn’t gotten an opportunity to show off his return skills in the preseason is Cole.

Also, while the former Jet can run, it’s hard to replicate the former Charger’s 4.36-speed. To quote Al Davis; “you can’t coach speed.”

If the Raiders end up keeping six wideouts and only three tight ends, then disregard this. But if they’re only going to carry five receivers, then the coaching staff could be burning the midnight oil trying to pick between Cole and Johnson.

Salary cap implications: Raiders save $1,117,500 and eat $150k in dead cap.