Mike Mayock had a short professional playing career before finding new paths, first as the premier NFL draft analyst and then as Raiders general manager.
Mayock has been cut three times in his life, and will never forget the feeling.
That’s why he wanted to make every cut himself as the Raiders whittled their roster down to 53 players by Saturday afternoon’s deadline. He felt it necessary to be honest and direct about his decision, even though it was terrible news to those hearing it.
While the cuts are all part of this NFL business, it was still an emotional process making so many cuts in such a short span.
“I was cut and resigned and you have no idea how I empathize with these kids. Every cut was brutal,” Mayock said Saturday evening in a conference call. “I had tears in my eyes with several of these kids. Every one of them handled it with class and distinction. My style is very direct. I told everyone of them where I thought they were as a football player and what I thought they needed to improve upon. They were all direct conversations, some longer than others.”
They were all tough, especially for players Mayock and Gruden nearly kept. These weren’t Mayock’s first cuts as general manager, but the volume carries a great weight.
“Since I took the job, there’s been several moves, a lot of moves,” Mayock said. “But the last two days for me, were emotionally draining because I know what those kids feel like sitting in that chair and I feel just as bad as they do.”
Mayock isn’t done having tough conversations. The Raiders 53-man roster remains in flux heading toward the Sept. 9 regular-season opener. The roster is overloaded at some spot, malnourished at others. It’s possible some players end up on injured reserve for a short term – those guys have to be on the initial 53-man roster – and other positions could get upgrades through trades, signings or waiver claims.
“I’m not sure we’re done at a bunch of different places on the roster,” Mayock said. “There’s still more to come.”
It seems likely the Raiders could add a linebacker to the four they currently employ. Mayock inferred that the receiving corps may be altered some. It’s possible either right guard Gabe Jackson or cornerback Isaiah Johnson or both could move to the IR as early as Sunday.
Mayock is proud of the group assembled to this point, and was in awe at the turnover between this group and last year’s assemblage. He considers these adjustments positive as Gruden and Mayock continue to reshape personnel and restock their roster with players of their choosing.
“I think Jon and I took a step back today and looked at the overview of it,” Mayock said. “The last couple of days were a frenzy. I took a look at last year’s 53 before the L.A. Rams game, Week 1. We have over 30 guys on this 53 that were not on that roster. There’s been significant change. Eight of our nine draft picks are on the roster. I think we have four undrafted free agents.
"I think we’re excited because we kind of feel like what we hoped to accomplish eight months ago when Jon and I sat down together and talked about it was to get younger, more athletic and the right kind of mentality in this building. We think we’ve been pretty consistent with that and we’re real excited about the guys on this roster.”