As the Las Vegas Raiders wrap up minicamp and OTAs and break for summer, there are two major storylines to keep tabs on before the team returns for training camp and both are related. The first is the status of free agent cornerback Marcus Peters and the second is the Raiders’ cap space.
Recently, there has been some news on both topics. The Athletic’s Vic Tafur reported on Wednesday that Las Vegas is likely to sign Peters before the start of camp. However, Thursday morning, ESPN’s Field Yates tweeted out where each NFL team stands regarding cap space heading into summer vacation, and the Silver and Black rank 30th in the league.
On the last day before teams head off for the NFL's summer vacation, a look at how much cap space each team officially has. pic.twitter.com/XM4bAX2JCW— Field Yates (@FieldYates) June 15, 2023
The Raiders do have just under $3 million to spend, so they’re at least above water and in the black. But they don’t have a whole lot of wiggle room and there is a question of whether or not they can afford the three-time Pro Bowler given their cap situation.
With the Baltimore Ravens, Peters signed a three-year, $42 million contract for an average of $14 million per year, per Spotrac.com. While he certainly won’t make that much money this time around, Spotrac projects the 30-year-old to bring in about $9.9 million annually. That would make him the 21st-highest-paid cornerback in the NFL and is roughly three and a half times more than the cap space Las Vegas currently has available.
That projection does still seem pretty high seeing as it’s mid-June and Peters doesn’t have a team. But even if he takes half of that and plays for say $5 million this season, the Raiders will have some cap manipulation to do.
Luckily, the team has a handful of players whose contracts either carry no or very little dead cap space and they’d have to cut someone to make room for Peters on the 90-man roster anyway, but the problem is the savings are minimal for most of those players.
Wide receiver Keelan Cole is a good example of someone who could be expendable as he currently accounts for about $1.1 million of cap space, but he only carries $76,250 of dead money if he’s let go. Las Vegas could get rid of Cole and restructure a few other deals to bring the veteran cornerback in if need be.
Who knows, maybe Peters’ market has dried up so much that he’s willing to take a “prove-it” type of deal for at or near the veteran's minimum for a year, which would be $1.165 million with his years of service in the league. That would turn the cap hit into a wash seeing as they’d still have to cut someone to stay under the roster threshold.
So, there is an avenue for the Silver and Black to add the veteran corner their defense desperately needs, but that route is contingent upon Peters being willing to swallow some pride and take less money than what he’s worth.
Unfortunately, it’s a big game of wait-and-see at this point, but at least Raider Nation has a storyline to keep tabs on over the next month during the NFL’s (typically) dead period!