Raiders' Top Contracts to Consider Cutting Ahead of NFL Free Agency

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IFebruary 8, 2021

Raiders' Top Contracts to Consider Cutting Ahead of NFL Free Agency

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    The Las Vegas Raiders head into the offseason needing to clear some salary cap space if they want to add to their roster ahead of the 2021 season. However, it may not take many moves for them to be in a better financial spot, as they're in a more manageable position than some of the NFL's other teams.

    Over the Cap is currently projecting the Raiders to be $6.2 million over the cap for the 2021 season (assuming a salary cap of $180 million, which hasn't yet been set). So, Las Vegas could drop below the cap by getting rid of several players on its roster who have high salaries for next season.

    Each of the past two seasons, the Raiders started strong and were in the thick of the playoff race, but they ended up missing the postseason each time. That's why this is an important offseason for them as they look to make the necessary moves to get back into the playoffs soon.

    Here's a look at several players who Las Vegas could consider cutting this offseason to help it clear salary cap and to put itself in position to potentially make some moves during free agency.  

Tyrell Williams, WR

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    Doug McSchooler/Associated Press

    Tyrell Williams is halfway through his four-year, $44 million deal that he signed with the Raiders prior to the 2019 season. And after posting solid numbers in his first season with the team (651 yards and six touchdowns), he didn't play any games in 2020, suffering a torn labrum in his right shoulder before the start of the season.

    Las Vegas' receiving corps is now better than it was at the time when it signed Williams. It added a pair of wide receivers in the 2020 NFL draft (Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards), while Nelson Agholor ended up being a great addition via free agency (although he's now a free agent again this offseason).

    It may be hard for the Raiders to justify paying Williams $11.6 million in the 2021 season, considering he's played only 14 games over his first two years with the team. And if Las Vegas wants to re-sign Agholor, then it may be necessary for it to clear cap space by releasing Williams.

    Williams will be 29 at the start of the 2021 season, and even if he's healthy, it could be difficult for him to earn a role in the Raiders' offense with so many other receivers, particularly if they bring back Agholor. So, cutting ties with Williams could be an easy way for Las Vegas to clear cap space.

Trent Brown, OT

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    Jeff Bottari/Associated Press

    This shouldn't be a difficult roster decision for the Raiders to make. Trent Brown hasn't been able to stay healthy, and he's set to make $14 million in 2021. The 27-year-old offensive tackle is under contract for two more seasons, but it could make sense for Las Vegas to part ways with him now.

    Brown has played only 16 games over his first two seasons with the Raiders, including only five in 2020. Not only that, but according to The Athletic's Vic Tafur, Brown's weight rose to above 400 pounds last year, so he may not be in the best playing shape of his career.

    Las Vegas would need to find a replacement at right tackle if it decided to release Brown, but his production hasn't matched the high salary that he's earning from the team. If the Raiders can clear cap space and replace him with a tackle who won't cost as much, it could be the right move to make.

    It's just not worth it for Las Vegas to commit so much money to Brown, so that could lead to his release at some point early during the offseason. The team can then use that cap space to try to sign free agents.

Richie Incognito, OG

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    Brian Westerholt/Associated Press

    Like Brown, Richie Incognito hasn't stayed healthy of late, so it could be hard for the Raiders to justify continuing to pay him a substantial salary moving forward. Plus, Incognito will be 38 when the 2021 season arrives, so he's likely getting close to the end of his NFL career.

    Incognito has played 14 games over the past two seasons, including only two in 2020, as he suffered a foot injury in Week 2 that later required surgery. He's now set to make $5.475 million in 2021, the final year of his contract with Las Vegas.

    The Raiders may not even need Incognito as a starter anymore, as Denzelle Good had a strong showing in 15 games this past season, while Gabe Jackson is the team's other starting guard. If Incognito isn't going to be on the field much, it may not make sense for Las Vegas to pay him as much as he's set to make.

    Incognito's Raiders career will likely be over after the 2021 season regardless. But if Las Vegas wants to clear more cap space and continue to improve its financial position this offseason, then it could make sense to go ahead and cut ties with the veteran guard now.