With the Las Vegas Raiders playing on Thursday Night Football last week, we have a delayed release for this week’s mailbag and a bigger focus on the offseason. More specifically, a lot of questions were about the coaching situation.
Q: What are the salary cap ramifications of cutting Jimmy Garoppolo after the season is over? I’ve heard some say it would have to be after June 1st why is that?
A: The best way I can explain this is the Raiders are going to have to take on about $28.3 million in dead cap space to cut Garoppolo this offseason, it’s just a matter of how they want to split that money up.
Per Spotrac, with a pre-June 1 release, the team will take on the entire amount in dead cap space this offseason with a little less than $200k in savings. But, if they want to split it up, they can use a post-June 1 designation and take on about $15.5 million in dead cap this year and then about $12.8 million in 2025.
So, it’s just a matter of whether the organization wants to take the hit upfront and have more money for free agency in 2025, or if they want the savings now to add a key player or two this offseason.
If the Raiders/the new general manager doesn’t think the team will be active in free agency this offseason, then taking the dead cap hit now would make sense so they have more money to play with the following spring. But if they do want to go after free agents in 2024, then spreading out the hit would be the move.
The reason for the difference between pre- and post-June 1 was explained well by Pro Football Network’s Dallas Robinson.
Let’s start with a straightforward NFL release that occurs at the beginning of the new league year in March. If a team cuts a player at any point before June 1, all of his future guarantees and his remaining prorated signing bonus will immediately “accelerate” onto the clubs’ salary cap.
The team is forced to account for all of those charges at once, and the cap space being allocated toward a player no longer on the roster is referred to as “dead money.”
However, the NFL’s post-June 1 rule states that any player released or traded after June 1 will have his dead money spread over two seasons instead of only the current campaign.
The other aspect at play here is the league allows teams to release a player with a post-June 1 designation at the beginning of free agency and the player immediately becomes a free agent and can sign with another club. However, the catch is that the team that released said player still doesn’t get the cap relief until June 2. The club just gets to avoid paying any roster bonuses that might kick in between the end of the season and June.
Hope that helps!
A: Understandably, this is a pretty common question these days. Yes, I do think Antonio Pierce has to win two out of the next three to keep the job.
I thought ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez summed it up pretty well in his recent column where Gutierrez said that the blowout win against the Chargers improved Pierce’s odds of becoming the full-time head coach as much as the shutout loss to the Vikings hurt his chances.
I don't think Mark Davis has made up his mind either way, so Pierce isn’t a lame duck. I’ve always felt he needs to get to the eight- to nine-win range to remain at his post. Davis is tired of losing and wants to be a playoff contender, meaning he’s going to hire a head coach that he thinks can win as soon as possible.
In that regard, Pierce’s inexperience works against him so he needs to have the best record possible to improve his résumé and the team finishing around the .500 mark means he’ll be either 5-4 or 6-3 as head coach. Anything below that would be hard to argue that he’s a “winner” who can lead the Raiders to the postseason.
A: Winning is fun and when you dominate a division rival on a national stage while setting franchise records and getting their head coach and general manager fired, it’s really fun!
People are making a big deal out of the Nick Bosa thing and while it would be nice to have Bosa on the roster, the Raiders' biggest mistake in that draft class was taking Clelin Ferrell over Josh Allen. While Bosa is still the better player, Allen has also been very good during his career and is playing like a Defensive Player of the Year candidate this season.
My point here is having a better draft pick helps, but the Raiders can still get a quality player in the first round even after Thursday’s win. They just have to draft the right player.
A: As someone who loves the draft, I understand where people who want the team to tank are coming from. But it’s just not realistic, especially with this year’s Raiders team.
Losing can end players’ and coaches’ careers in the league, especially for guys who aren’t stars or well-established head coaches.
A guy who was riding the bench all year or was just called up from the practice squad is going to do everything he can to prove that he can help the team win. The same goes for the coaches from the head honcho to the quality control coach who probably just got his or her start in the NFL and needs to boost his or her résumé as much as possible.
For this year’s Raiders team, as mentioned above, Pierce is fighting for his job and the team’s record will follow him around for the rest of his career, so he’s not going to just roll over and lose.
As far as how I feel about fans wanting the team to tank, I really don’t care how other people choose to be fans. It doesn’t affect me in the slightest so they can feel or root for the team however they want.
A: I believe Patrick Graham is still in the both and the difference just boils down to the coach. Some coaches want to be on the sidelines to interact with the players and think they get a better feel for the game that way, while others want a bird’s eye view of the field and think they call plays better when removed from the emotions of the sideline. It’s a personal preference and a matter of what yields better results.
To give you a personal example, in college, our team’s offensive coordinator was pretty level-headed and called plays from the sideline. He leaned on the quarterbacks coach to tell him what could be seen from the box. However, our defensive coordinator was a hothead who would freak out when we gave up big plays. So, the DC was up in the box to avoid snapping on the sideline in front of the players and he would relay the play-calls to the linebackers coach, who was on the sideline.
There are positives and negatives to both and it’s just a matter of preference.
A: That’s a potential issue with Pierce as he’s only been an NFL coach for these last two seasons and didn’t even become a college coach until five years ago when he was hired as Arizona State’s linebackers coach in 2018.
However, what can help broaden Pierce’s network is he has a couple of well-tenured NFL mentors with connections in coach circles via Tom Coughlin and Herm Edwards. I’d imagine he’ll lean on those two to find an offensive coordinator.
Outside of that, I’d like to see the Raiders try to pluck someone from the Shanahan coaching tree seeing as that’s been pretty successful for other teams across the league. Chris Foerster—current 49ers’ run game coordinator and offensive line coach—and Mike LaFleur—current Rams’ offensive coordinator—would be a couple of names to look out for.
Also, I’d be interested to see if Las Vegas could convince Frank Smith—current Dolphins’ offensive coordinator—to leave Miami since Mike McDaniel is the playcaller there. That’d be similar to what Matt LaFleur did when he left the Rams after being the OC for Sean McVay for a year (2017) and went to the Titans for the same role in 2018 before becoming the Packers’ head coach.
A: Nope, and I’d be surprised if there is a close second!
That’ll do it for this week’s mailbag. Thank you all for submitting questions and, as your weekly reminder, if you’d like to have your questions answered in a future column, tweet them at me, @MHolder95, email them to SBPQuestions1@gmail.com or look for our weekly call for questions on the site. The latter will publish on Thursdays throughout the season.