Jason Cabinda played 10 games for the Raiders as a rookie in 2018, including three starts. It was clear to anyone watching HBO's “Hard Knocks” on Tuesday night that he expected to be back for a second season.
The middle linebacker didn’t make this year’s squad, though, and was given the bad news Saturday at the team’s Alameda training facility.
Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther met with Cabinda after he received the news, offering support in his future endeavors while laying out what hurt the linebacker's roster candidacy the most.
Guenther: “I’m going to be really honest with you. It came down to special teams. That’s what it is.”
Cabinda: “That’s the hardest part, because I felt like I improved on special teams. That was a goal of mine, to improve there.”
Guenther: “You may be pissed about how it worked out, and I understand that. But at the same time, keep your head up. Reset your mind. Get back in the challenge and keep working. You never know what works out. If your agent is saying that a team is looking at you, tell those coaches to call me, and I’ll give you an A-plus-plus recommendation.”
The Raiders kept linebackers Vontaze Burfict, Nicholas Morrow, Tahir Whitehead, Marquel Lee and Kyle Wilber. To Guenther’s point, Wilber primarily is a special-teams contributor.
Cabinda landed a gig with the Detroit Lions' practice squad shortly after being cut, providing a complete arc to his featured time on “Hard Knocks.”
The final episode of this long-running documentary series typically takes viewers inside the cuts themselves, something that was not shown this season. Not like it has to be (or even should), considering how emotional those disappointments can be for men who dream of playing professional football.
The show followed several players through the cut process, including linebacker Brandon Marshall, tight end Luke Willson and undrafted UC Davis wide receiver Keelan Doss.
Fullback Keith Smith was among the Raiders cut, and offered some sage advice after Cabinda’s disappointment.
“It’s a business, bro,” Smith said. “You have to compartmentalize this s--t and understand that ... bro.
"Everybody’s seen you play, especially this preseason. It’s not like it’s a talent thing. It’s a business thing.”