The largest roster purge in franchise history was completed on Friday when The Oakland Raiders finally waived disgruntled linebacker Rolando McClain. The move was expected since early in the season when McClain was demoted to a two-down linebacker.
After McClain was suspended for two games for conduct detrimental to the team last December for getting into an argument with head coach Dennis Allen, his release was almost assured. The Raiders waited to release McClain presumably because of salary cap implications.
General manager Reggie McKenzie has effectively blown up the entire roster in Oakland in one offseason. Only 10 of 22 starters remain with the team from last year.
The departures include Richard Seymour, Carson Palmer, Tommy Kelly, Michael Huff, Matt Shaughnessy, Desmond Bryant, Phillip Wheeler, Dave Tollefson, Shane Lechler and Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Waiving McClain results in $10.895 million in dead money going against the Raiders' salary cap, unless the Raiders voided $3.65 million in guaranteed base salaries over the next two years when he was suspended. If that’s the case, McClain’s dead money drops to $7.26 million and would cost the Raiders only $585,000 more than he would have if he remained on the roster per overthecap.com figures.
According to NFLPA records, the Raiders had $6,855,649 million in cap space Friday. After releasing McClain, assuming his guarantees were voided, the Raiders would still have about $6.3 million in salary cap space. That’s more than enough cap space for the Raiders to sign rookies and a couple bargain free agents.
Did McKenzie do the right thing taking all his lumps in one year?
Give general manager Reggie McKenzie credit; he’s been unafraid to purge the roster of bad contracts and start fresh. Based on the sheer volume of dead money that would be created by the exodus of players, McKenzie could have tried to push more of the cap hits into the future like he did in 2012.
McKenzie’s willingness to make tough decisions and take about $50 million in dead money will result in a very clean cap situation in 2014 and beyond. McKenzie is biting the bullet so he’ll have the team in a good position next year, when he’ll also have a full deck of draft picks to use.
Taking the vast majority of the cap hits in 2013 may have kept the Raiders from being serious bidders in free agency, but spending on big-name free agents runs counter to everything McKenzie learned in Green Bay. The Raiders signed several bargain free agents that will improve the roster and cleared a huge amount of future cap space so they can re-sign guys like Lamarr Houston next season.