Oakland Raiders Roster Cuts: The Good, the Bad and the 'Ugh!'
Al Davis, Tom Cable, and the Oakland Raiders have made their choices and the roster cuts are complete. Some cuts were expected, some were surprises, and some don't make any sense at all.
Let's just say, I was worried when I saw the initial cuts, but after seeing the practice squad list, I'm as excited about the upcoming regular season as I was on Friday evening.
The team kept more players at some positions than I expected, and less at others. There are seven wide receivers, only two tight ends, and just one fullback on the roster. This puzzles me.
The good? The offensive line looks much more solid than it did at the beginning of camp.
The bad? Why would you carry seven wide receivers, but only two tight ends and one fullback?
The "Ugh?" Some of the players kept have not be even close to productive, and some that were cut have shown very well.
What follows is my take on where the team got it right, where they went wrong, and the ramifications of the decisions that were made.
We'll start with the good, stick with me here...
The Good—There's a New Center in Town
Rookie Jared Veldheer not only made the team, he has been named the starting center. This is great news for Raider fans.
Cable was quoted as saying he wanted to "make us tougher up front." He succeeded.
The Raiders kept Samson Satele as the back up, and released Chris Morris. Again, this is great news for Raider Nation as they will no longer have to witness Morris blowing his assignment or allowing a defensive tackle to push him right into the quarterback's lap.
The fans will only have to suffer the inability of Satele if Veldheer gets hurt—God forbid!
The Good—Some Dead Weight at Offensive Guard Is Gone
Brandon Rodd never made any kind of impact for the Raiders. He never played in any regular season games and has spent most all of his time on the practice squad.
Basically, he was getting paid for contributing nothing.
Brandon Rodd cleared waivers, but was not signed to the practice squad. He's left to attempt to catch on with another team.
Good—Some Dead Weight at Wide Receiver Is Gone
Shaun Bodiford is one of those guys you find yourself rooting for, but he never quite gets to where he should be. 2010 is no exception. Bodiford has one career catch—a 13 yard grab when he was with the Packers.
At times, Todd Watkins shows great talent. Other times he shows that he is completely lost. Paul Hubbard hasn't shown much of anything but the ability to drop the ball.
With the wealth of young talent the Raiders have at wide receiver, it's not really a surprise that these three men find themselves on the street.
All of these men have cleared waivers and Bodiford is the only one that was signed to the practice squad.
Overall, I'm pretty happy with the final decisions made at the wide receiver position.
The Bad—Defensive End Went From Being Very Deep to a Little Thin
I really thought Jay Richardson had a great shot at making the 53 man active roster. He's not spectacular, but he's steady.
He played the run fairly well and was adequate in the pass rushing capacity. Richardson could have provided some nice depth at defensive end behind Lamarr Houston, Trevor Scott, and Matt Shaughnessy.
Unfortunately, an injury has landed Richardson on the injured reserve. The good news is he will have a chance to make the team next year.
Richard Seymour is still listed as a defensive end, but has been playing at defensive tackle. With Scott starting at outside linebacker, the Raiders have only two defensive ends on the team.
I assume this means that we will see Trevor Scott, Quentin Groves and Kamerion Wimbley getting time at defensive end with Thomas Howard, Ricky Brown, Travis Goethel, or Sam Williams taking their spot at linebacker.
Greyson Gunheim and Alex Daniels were also cut. That means that one of the deepest positions on the team is now one of the most precarious. It could come back to haunt the Raiders if someone goes down with injury.
Gunheim and Daniels have not been signed to the practice squad and are still on the street.
The Bad—The Best Blocking Fullback Is Gone
This is one of the cuts that has left me scratching my head. Manese Tonga proved to be the best run blocking fullback on the roster.
Tonga showed a mean streak, a willingness to get nasty, and the ability to hurt opposing team's potential tacklers.
It is apparent that offensive coordinator Hue Jackson decided that the offensive threats of Marcel Reece and Rock Cartwright were more important than the great blocking shown by Tonga.
I do not agree.
Reece has not only been bad at run blocking, he hasn't even shown the desire to do it. He constantly missed blocks due to being tentative and looking scared. This was not the case with Tonga.
The Raiders could have easily cut the unproductive Cartwright to make room for Tonga. This would have made more sense to me, and given the Raiders the ability to run any kind of offense.
But, mine is not the opinion that matters.
With Bush nursing a broken thumb, Darren McFadden will likely get most of the carries. With Reece tippy-toeing in the hole and wiffing on blocks, the run game will suffer greatly until the bigger, more physical Bush is back to 100 percent.
Tonga has cleared waivers and is signed to the practice squad. Hopefully the coaching staff will see that Reece and Cartwright are not going to help much with the running game and give Tonga a shot to prove himself in the regular season.
The Bad—Only Two Tight Ends on The Roster
I don't understand this cut either. John Owens is not a fantastic player, but he's serviceable.
Only two tight ends means there will be no true three tight end sets unless the coaches send in a backup tackle or guard to report as eligible.
My biggest concern with this is—what happens if Zach Miller or Brandon Myers go down with injury? Does that mean the team will simply give up on using two tight end sets? It just doesn't make sense.
I understand that some one had to go to make room for all the players the team wanted to keep, but there were better choices than one that makes the team incredibly thin at tight end.
The team has yet to offer Owens a spot on the practice squad, and he is not listed on NFL.com as having found a home elsewhere either.
His chances to be in the NFL are fading fast.
The "Ugh"—Ricky Brown Still Has a Job
Ricky Brown must have some sort of blackmail material on Al Davis or Tom Cable. It seems like Brown always makes the team regardless of how bad he looks in coverage, or how many tackles he misses.
I don't have anything against Brown personally, but I can't see the advantage of having a player on the roster when that player spends more time in the training room than on the field.
Brown seems to be up to speed on the mental aspect of the game, but he also appears to be made of glass. Davis, Cable, and the Raiders are apparently happy to pay him to sit on the bench with ice on some part of his body.
I don't understand it, but again, my opinion doesn't matter.
The good news is Travis Goethel made the final roster and will push Brown to perform. Also, Slade Norris has been signed to the practice squad and will be there if Brown or Goethel get hurt.
The "Ugh"—Hiram Eugene Is Still On The Roster
I have been an advocate for the dismissal of Hiram Eugene for several seasons now. He's not even average in coverage, and can't tackle either.
It's ludicrous to think that Jerome Boyd and the player on the next slide were cut in favor of a player that has repeatedly proven to be below average in every aspect of the game.
I didn't like Michael Huff retaining his starting job, but I would rather have Huff back there than Eugene.
Both Boyd and the player on the next slide deserve to be on the final roster more than Eugene.
But again, that's just my opinion, and as such, means nothing to the team.
The "Ugh"—Stevie Brown Is Not On The Final 53 Man Roster
This is without question the worst decision the Raiders have made all off season. Stevie Brown is a play maker that belongs on the team ahead of others that were kept.
When discussing Brown's ability and production, my colleague Carl Cockerham asked the question, "how much of it was him [Brown] and how much of it was [playing against] second string?"
My answer is simple. First string, second string, or third string, it doesn't matter. If you're around the ball, you're around the ball. If you're making plays, you're making plays—period.
Brown was always around the ball and always made plays. Two interceptions and the recovery of a muffed punt were just part of it. I don't think I saw him miss a tackle either—at least not as badly as Huff and Eugene do every time they take the field.
Brown is better in coverage than Eugene and Mitchell, and is a better tackler than Eugene and Huff. That's a fact.
I was supremely shocked to discover that Brown cleared waivers, and I'm happy to report that he was signed to the practice squad.
Like the aforementioned Tonga, I hope the coach's see how good he really is and get him on the field in the regular season.
As I said in the article that preceded this one, I do not envy coach Cable on bit. That said, I think he could have done a little better job in this endeavor.
Was he under pressure from Al Davis to keep or cut certain players? Maybe. That is still not an excuse. He managed to get through to Davis before, why would now be any different?
I don't want you to think I believe the season is lost, or that the Raiders aren't better than they have been. I'm only saying they could be better than they are after the roster cuts.
There were some good decisions made, but there were some very bad ones made too.
I would have liked to see Stevie Brown, Manese Tonga, and Slade Norris make the active roster over Hiram Eugene, Rock Cartwright, and Ricky Brown. But one more time, my opinion doesn't matter.
The practice squad now looks like this...
Stevie Brown-S, Kellen Heard-DT, Slade Norris-LB, Joe Porter-CB, Shaun Bodiford-WR, Alex Parsons-G/C, and Manese Tonga-FB.
It think these are all good players that will make an impact in the not so distant future. Hopefully, Brown and Tonga will get their shot sooner, rather than later.
This leaves a lot of young players out in the cold to look for work with another team. It is a tough way to make a living, but it is the life they've chosen.
For a full transactions list, click here.
So what do you think Raider Nation? Am I off base? Right on target? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments.
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