3 Players Raiders Must Cut in 2023 NFL Offseason
At 3-7 this year, it's safe to say the 2023 season is where Las Vegas Raiders are finding hope these days.
The inaugural season of Josh McDaniels as head coach has fallen short of expectations. The Raiders' offseason was characterized by win-now moves, including the hiring of the coach, a trade for Davante Adams and the signing of Chandler Jones.
Those are moves that are most likely going to carry into 2023. The hope is going to have to be that the coaching staff and better injury luck can turn things around.
Most of the Raiders' core is locked in to come back next season. Jones, Maxx Crosby, Kolton Miller, Adams and Darren Waller all carry significant guaranteed salaries. Only $5.6 million of Derek Carr's $34.9 million cap hit is guaranteed so he's a strong candidate to be traded if the Raiders feel like they need to make a change at quarterback.
There are, however, some players who should be released if the team can't find a trade partner. The following names would provide some salary-cap savings while clearing up a roster spot for new blood.
DL Bilal Nichols
When it comes to defensive tackles, players who are average in run defense and don't offer much pass-rush production are easily replaced.
Ten games into Bilal Nichols' run with the Raiders, that's an apt description of the interior defender. He is ranked 78th of 122 interior defenders graded by Pro Football Focus.
In Chicago, the 26-year-old was above average as a pass-rusher. He chipped in three sacks in 2021 and another five in 2020. He was able to take advantage of one-on-one situations created by Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn, giving the Bears a third player who could get after the quarterback.
In Las Vegas, he was supposed to play the same role flanked by Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones. Instead, he has no sacks and just eight total pressures on the season.
Those numbers don't justify the $6.7 million cap figure he's supposed to earn next season. Instead, the Raiders can cut the Delaware product and save $3 million against the cap.
Not only will it create more cap space to reshape the defense, but it will also offer players such as Neil Farrell Jr. and Matthew Butler more reps.
C Andre James
It's no secret the Las Vegas offensive line needs some work.
Outside of Kolton Miller, the Raiders had few answers up front, and they've spent much of this season trying different combinations and dealing with different injuries to find the right starting five.
It's going to be a project that continues into next offseason.
Right now, there's no one in the starting five who ranks in the top half of players graded by PFF at their position.
That includes Andre James, who is 28th out of 39 centers. He has now been the starter for a year and a half but isn't playing above replacement level.
Last season, he earned a respectable 64.1 grade from PFF but drew seven penalties; this season, that grade has dipped to 56.2.
The 25-year-old's level of play has been fine this year given his compensation. He's accounting for a $1.6 million cap hit, but that number climbs to $5.5 million if his contract isn't addressed next season.
That's a raise that probably isn't worth it given James' level of play this season. The Raiders can save around $3 million by cutting him next season.
RB Brandon Bolden
The Raiders did many renovations when it came to the running back room this offseason, and there's a chance it looks vastly different again in 2022.
One of the moves they made this year was bringing on Brandon Bolden. His experience with the New England Patriots made him an obvious addition as a veteran with knowledge of Josh McDaniels and his schemes.
Thus far, the investment hasn't made much difference on the field.
The 32-year-old has appeared in nine games but has a grand total of 17 touches. Josh Jacobs has taken on the majority of the workload and is second in the league in opportunity share, per Player Profiler.
The Raiders are going to have a big decision with Jacobs' contract expiring in the offseason. If they want to re-sign him, they are going to need additional money and releasing Bolden is a way to create some cap space.
If they decide to go another direction, it will likely be because they believe in Zamir White, who was a fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft.
Either way, Bolden has probably served his purpose for the franchise.