NFL Rumors: Oakland Raiders Likely to Release LB Kamerion Wimbley?

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IMarch 8, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 19:  Lamarr Houston #99 is congratulated by Kamerion Wimbley #96 of the Oakland Raiders after Houston sacked Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 19, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Barring a "major change" between the two sides, it appears likely that the Oakland Raiders will release linebacker Kamerion Wimbley before their contractual deadline of Mach 17. 

According to ESPN AFC West blogger Bill Williamson, the Raiders have not talked to Wimbley "in several days" and the linebacker "is not interested in taking a pay cut."

The Raiders still have over a week to come to an agreement on a restructured contract with Wimbley, even if that scenario looks unlikely now.

If Wimbley remains on the Raiders' roster by March 17—the fifth day of the new league year—$17.5 million of Wimbley's contract becomes guaranteed. $4.5 million is guaranteed over 2012, $11 million in base salary guarantees in 2013 and $2 million is set in stone for 2014.

Wimbley signed a five-year, $48 million contract last August, and he's still looking at earning almost $40 million of that contract in coming years. If released now, the Raiders would save $4.5 million on the 2012 cap, plus any remaining savings that Wimbley would have otherwise earned from 2012-15.

As the Raiders attempt to get under the salary cap before next Tuesday's start of the new league year, Wimbley will either restructure or be cut. It doesn't appear if any other scenario works for the Raiders to get under the cap.

GM Reggie McKenzie successfully restructured the contacts of both Richard Seymour and Michael Huff over the last week, which inches the Raiders closer and closer to the league's cap number.

According to Brian McIntyre, who gave a wonderful breakdown on both restructures, the Raiders saved a boatload of money on this year's cap with both moves. 

Seymour (pictured) and Michael Huff re-structured their deals this week.
Seymour (pictured) and Michael Huff re-structured their deals this week.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Seymour agreed to drop his base salary to near the league minimum in return for a fully guaranteed, $6.6 million roster bonus (treated like a signing bonus), saving the Raiders almost $6 million in cap space for 2012.

Huff also dropped his base salary for a $7.3 million roster bonus, again treated like a signing bonus to take it off the cap. That move saved the Raiders nearly $6 million on this year's cap.

McKenzie also saved $5 million this year when he released grossly-overpaid cornerback Stanford Routt last month.

In the end, however, McKenzie still has more work to do to get the Raiders under the cap. It's likely to fall on Wimbley to be the final piece, and a flat-out release is looking like the option McKenzie may have to take.

In Wimbley's eyes, there's no reason to restructure. Big guaranteed money is coming his way regardless of what the Raiders choose to do.

If he's still on the roster on March 17, Wimbley will lock himself in to $17.5 million in guarantees with the Raiders over the next three seasons. If he's released, Wimbley will still get $6.5 million in guarantees from the Raiders this season, plus any guaranteed money he'd likely receive on the free-agent market as one of the top pass-rushers available.

Expect Wimbley to sit on his money and do one of two options: Either restructure his deal in a way that ensures every penny of guaranteed money stays in his deal or wait around until the Raiders inform him of his release.