Raiders

Raiders

The Raiders got plenty of draft capital in return for trading Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, but that wasn’t the main benefit of those deals.

Mack was worthy of a market-resetting contract for NFL defensive players either before last season or the next, and he got it after being sent to the Chicago Bears last September. Cooper will get serious cash from the Dallas Cowboys as soon as this offseason, following his third Pro Bowl campaign in four seasons.

The Raiders initially planned to pay both guys in addition to an expensive offensive line, and high-priced quarterback Derek Carr.

Those Cooper and Mack deals are no off the books and the Raiders, thanks to some poor drafts, don’t have a big-money extension coming up for a long, long time. They don’t have any long-term commitments beyond Carr, and their recent top draft picks are still on rookie deals.

That has given the Raiders tremendous salary-cap flexibility heading into a pivotal offseason meant to springboard coach Jon Gruden’s second Raiders stint.

The Raiders have roughly $71 million in salary-cap space in 2019, according to OverTheCap.com. That ranks fifth in the NFL, and would allow the Raiders to pursue most anyone in free agency.

 

The Raiders can clear even more space should they chose. They could save $10.2 million by cutting elite left guard Kelechi Osemele, and another $4.6 million by parting with receiver Seth Roberts. They could save $5.475 million by axing Donald Penn, coming off a season largely spent on injured reserve, and $5 million more by cutting backup quarterback AJ McCarron before the NFL league year begins.

Paying roster bonuses to Jordy Nelson, Tahir Whitehead, Lee Smith and Kyle Wilber essentially locks those guys to the roster.

There was never a danger of Carr being cut, but his $19.9 million base salary next season is now fully guaranteed.

New general manager Mike Mayock has stated his “buyer beware” approach to free agency, and Gruden, who ultimately has final say, has a soft spot for established veterans.

They signed a ton of unrestricted free agents to short-term deals. They might follow a different path this year.

Truly, the Raiders can do most anything they want.

“We’ve got some money this year, and we’ve had at least three meetings already about free agency,” Mayock said in a sitdown with reporters a few weeks ago at the Senior Bowl. “We’re stacking that board right now, as we speak. Between Jon and I and our pro scouting staff, that’s as important a board to stack as our draft board. We have some money and we would love to come out of it with a couple of starters. We have an awful lot of holes and we’re not going to fill them all. The more you can do in free agency, the more surgical you can be in the draft.”

Let’s take a look at player the Raiders have on the books, and their soon-to-be free agents. The figures are the 2019 salary-cap numbers for the Raiders’ highest-paid players, via OverTheCap.com:

Quarterback

Derek Carr $22.50 million
AJ McCarron $5.0 million
Nathan Peterman $645,000

Running back

Keith Smith $1.5 million
DeAndre Washington $787,299

Wide receiver

Jordy Nelson $5.368 million
Seth Roberts $4.650 million
Keon Hatcher $570,000

Tight end

Lee Smith $2.616 million
Derek Carrier $1.7 million
Darren Waller $720,000

Offensive line

Kelechi Osemele $10.2 million
Rodney Hudson $10.17 million
Donald Penn $7.225 million
Gabe Jackson $7.0 million
Kolton Miller $3.061 million
Brandon Parker $930,758
David Sharpe $645,000
Denver Krikland $645,000
Cameron Hunt $570,000

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Defensive line

Justin Ellis $4.75 million
PJ Hall $1.069 million
Eddie Vanderdoes $869,303
Arden Key $830,844
Maurice Hurst $649,761

Linebacker

Tahir Whitehead $4.291 million
Kyle Wilber $1.5 million
Marquel Lee $708,426
Nicholas Morrow $647,500
James Cowser $645,000

Defensive back

Karl Joseph $3.781 million
Gareon Conley $2.854 million
Nick Nelson $744,669
Makinton Dorleant $570,000
Montrel Meander $570,000

Specialists

Andrew DePaola $905,000
Drew Kaser $720,000
Johnny Townsend $624,389

All others under contract but not listed have cap figures of 2019 for $570,000 or less.

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Free agents

CB Rashaan Melvin (UFA)
TE Jared Cook (UFA)
RB Marshawn Lynch (UFA)
S Marcus Gilchrist (UFA)
DT Johnathan Hankins (UFA)
WR Martavis Bryant (UFA)
DT Clinton McDonald (UFA)
WR Brandon LaFell (UFA)
S Reggie Nelson (UFA)
RB Doug Martin (UFA)
CB Leon Hall (UFA)
DE Frostee Rucker (UFA)
DT Ahtyba Rubin (UFA)
K Mike Nugent (UFA)
Dwayne Harris (UFA)
DE Kony Ealy (UFA)
Bene Benwikiere (UFA)
G Denzell Good (UFA)
OL Chaz Green (UFA)
DE Jacquies Smith (UFA)
OT T.J. Clemmings (UFA)
G Jon Feliciano (UFA)
S Erik Harris (RFA)
DE Shilique Calhoun (RFA)
CB Daryl Worley (RFA)
CB Dexter McDonald (RFA)
RB Jalen Richard (RFA)
S Tevin Mitchell (ERFA)
K Daniel Carlson (ERFA)
WR Marcell Ateman (ERFA)
LS Trent Sieg (ERFA)
LB Jason Cabinda (ERFA)
OT Justin Murray (ERFA)