The start of the new league year begins on March 17 — the kickoff of free agency. As the Raiders sit above the projected 2021 salary cap, how can they maneuver themselves for a successful offseason in trimming the roster with cap cut casualties?
The post-Super Bowl world has already been off to a hectic start. Three quarterbacks have already landed on new teams (not official until the new league year begins), and more quarterback movement is speculated to eventually follow. So which players could presumably fall as cap cut casualties for the Raiders, ahead of the free agency period?
While Over the Cap lists the Raiders at $18.6 million over the projected $180 million salary cap, they have a surplus of methods that can free up offseason spending dollars.
Two weeks ago, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that the Raiders plan to release wide receiver Tyrell Williams at the start of the league year. The move isn’t embedded into their current cap figure, but will eventually save the Raiders $10.6 million.
The Raiders and the rest of the league will unequivocally be tested in manipulating the salary cap like no other offseason in recent years. For the first time in seven seasons, the salary cap will drastically lower because of a loss of revenue due to COVID-19 restrictions. Last season, teams could spend as high as $198.2 million.
So which players may the Raiders take a look at trading or releasing to get below the new cap threshold while building up their roster?
Potential Cap Cut Casualties
OT Trent Brown: Saves $14 million if cut or traded
QB Marcus Mariota: Saves $11.35 million if cut or traded
CB/S Lamarcus Joyner: Saves $8.7 million if cut or traded (dead cap: $2.5 million)
OG Gabe Jackson: Saves $9.6 million if cut or traded
OG Richie Incognito: Saves $5.6 million if cut or traded
RB Jalen Richard: Saves $3.5 million if cut or traded
S Jeff Heath: Saves $3.1 million if cut or traded
OT Brandon Parker: Saves $2.1 million if cut or traded (dead cap: $264,606 million)
DE Arden Key: Saves $2.1 million if cut or traded (dead cap: $206,594)
*All contract figures obtained via Over the Cap
The Raiders have a various amount of options to contemplate. While all these players are worth evaluating how significant their value is to the team, a handful of these players will indeed return next season.
Cap Cut Casualties: Who stands out in the bunch?
Trent Brown is as dominant as it gets at the right tackle. The issue is, he’s hardly healthy. After playing just 16 games over two seasons with the Raiders, his future with the club is in jeopardy with a long list of good offensive tackles in the 2021 draft class.
Marcus Mariota shined in his one appearance last season, but still remains the projected backup quarterback behind Derek Carr. With the money he’s tied to on his current contract and Jon Gruden already extending Nathan Peterman for a significantly cheaper contract, Mariota is likely to play elsewhere next season unless he takes a significant pay cut.
Lamarcus Joyner was the Raiders’ high-priced acquisition two years ago but has yet to pan out. A large factor in determining Joyner’s future with the team will hinge on what newly hired defensive coordinator Gus Bradley thinks he can do in his Cover 3 scheme.
Richie Incognito, 37, missed all but two games in 2020. While he was stellar in his first season with the Raiders, he may need to restructure his contract to remain with the Silver and Black. The lack of Incognito’s availability causes concern for his future.
Arden Key’s skillset screams ‘potential’ but he still hasn’t put things together three years into his NFL career. With just three sacks since being drafted in 2018, the Raiders may look to find a replacement who offers more immediate pass-rush help.