We’ve been patiently waiting since Friday to see who’s done enough to make the Las Vegas Raiders' final 53-man roster and the day has finally come. There certainly a handful of surprises, headlined by trading away Trayvon Mullen and cutting Alex Leatherwood, but it wouldn’t be the Raiders if there wasn’t at least a little drama involved.
Now that Las Vegas’ roster is set and ready to head to Los Angeles, who benefitted the most from the final decisions, and who got humbled?
WINNERS: Anthony Averrett and Sam Webb
I’m lumping these two together because they’re winners for a lot of the same reasons. One of the unexpected moves the Raiders made was releasing cornerback Darius Phillips, which firmly cemented Averrett as the backup nickel and helped create room for Webb to make the roster. However, what really put those over the top was the aforementioned trade of Mullen.
Mullen’s departure elevates Averrett from a ‘first guy off the bench’ role to the starting lineup. Now it’s looking like Nate Hobbs and Rock Ya-Sin will be atop the depth chart and the former Raven will be third, signaling that he stood out and earned the coaching staff’s trust during training camp. A similar statement can be made about Webb and making the final roster as an undrafted free agent from a Division II school is quite the accomplishment.
LOSERS: Mike Mayock and John Gruden
While the roster was good enough for new head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler to take the jobs, clearly, they don’t think too highly of the work their predecessors put forth.
Just between Alex Leatherwood and Kenyan Drake, the Raiders will be taking on about $11.5 million in dead cap space, per OverTheCap.com, this season. That’s a ton of money to give guys just to go away, and perhaps the bigger indictment on Gruden and Mayock is that McDaniels and Zielger weren’t able to find trade partners for either of the two players. In a way, that shows just how bad the rest of the league viewed those contract situations.
Also, it’s very realistic that Tre’von Moehrig will be the only first- or second-round pick on the roster next season from GruCock’s three draft classes together. Not exactly a resume booster for a couple of guys who are looking for jobs right now.
WINNER: Thayer Munford
Heading into training camp, it looked like Munford would be competing for a roster spot. Now, with Leatherwood getting cut, the Ohio State product has an inside chance at cracking the Week 1 starting lineup. That’s a very unique position for a seventh-round pick to be in and a testament to his growth over the last month.
Munford does need to get healthy and beat out Jermaine Eluemunor to finish the job, but he’s already out-lasted a first-rounder from the year before which is an impressive accomplishment. It’s starting to feel like McDaniels and Ziegler got a great late-round steal in their first draft class.
LOSER: Alex Leatherwood
Obviously, Leatherwood lands on the wrong side of this list because he was cut, but about two dozen players got let go and it’s how everything unfolded that makes his case standout among the rest.
As mentioned above, the Raiders were shopping Leatherwood on the trade market over the last couple of days but, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the team’s brass was met with nothing but ‘nos’ or ‘not interested.’ That combined with the organization giving him nearly $8 million to go play for someone else has to be a deflating feeling for someone who’s confidence was already shaken.
Who knows what’s next for Leatherwood, but for his sake, hopefully he can at least be a serviceable player for another club.
They tried to trade him to eveyone. Got 32 nos. https://t.co/2BwfIyZs4H— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 30, 2022
WINNER: 2022 Draft Class
Depsite Dylan Parham being the highest-drafted player as a third-rounder and the only one selected before Day 3, all six picks ended up making the final roster, including the two seventh-round picks. Brittain Brown was the only surprise as the team will carry five running backs and a fullback, but he proved himself during the preseason and could end up carving out a role behind Josh Jacobs.
All six drafted rookies should have decent-sized roles in year one, and they’re already looking like one of Las Vegas’ best draft classes in recent years, seeing as players from the previous regime’s are dropping like flies.
LOSER: Keelan Cole
After Cole got a lot of reps late into the fourth quarter against the Patriots, a lot of people saw this cut coming. He was expected to be a legitimate contender for the Raiders’ third wide receiver spot, but he ended up competing with, and getting beat out by, Tyron Johnson and DJ Turner for roster spot. That’s quite the fall from grace in only a few months of time.
Cole now joins the crop of veteran free agents who are looking for a job, and unlike Demarcus Robinson, who signed with and made the Ravens’ roster, Cole won’t have the benefit of going to another club’s camp to prove himself. Instead, he’ll likely have to wait for someone to get injured and/or another team to get desperate.