The Raiders had roughly $54 million in salary cap space heading into the offseason. That was before they decided to release strong safety Tyvon Branch, which will add nearly $3 million to that total.
It could jump even higher by releasing other veterans with high base salaries, little to no dead money associated and little expected return on investment.
Branch’s release will reportedly happen on Monday. He might not be the only one before the league year begins on March 10, but it’s entirely possible that some could get a long look in training camp before the team decides how to proceed. Base salaries aren’t guaranteed until the 53-man roster is set in late August, so there isn’t a rush to cut and run.
“You don’t give up on a player who has some value just because his cap number is higher that you would like,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “We’re not in a position like I was a couple years ago, where we had to move a contract just to do some things. I’m not in that situation. I’m in a pretty good cap situation.”
It might get even better if the Raiders, who are expected to spend in unrestricted free agency, let go of a few more.
Here are some cuts that might happen this offseason:
DE LaMarr Woodley
Cap number: $5.187 million
Thoughts: Woodley has a $1 million roster bonus due on the fifth day of the 2015 league year. It’s tough to imagine the Raiders paying that for a player who gave them virtually nothing a year ago. Woodley had five tackles in six games before suffering a season-ending biceps injury. Woodley was ineffective when healthy, and it makes little sense to bring him back in 2015.
QB Matt Schaub
Cap number: $5.5 million
Thoughts: The Raiders aren’t in a mad rush to get rid of Schaub, who lost a starting job to rookie Derek Carr didn’t play well in a backup. He was a consummate professional and became a solid asset to Carr in meetings. The Raiders have confidence in Matt McGloin as a No. 2 signal caller, which makes Schaub expendable. He is not expected back.
RB Maurice Jones-Drew
Cap number: $2.5 million
Thoughts: Jones-Drew was good to Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio when the two were in Jacksonville. The running back was a true feature back then, but must re-prove himself after an ineffective 2014 campaign where he fell out of the rushing rotation. Del Rio said MJD must show he can be an explosive back again, and could get the offseason program and the preseason to prove it. The Raiders don’t need his money to sign free agents, and nothing is guaranteed outside a workout bonus if he doesn’t work out well.
C/G Kevin Boothe
Cap number: $1.3 million
Thoughts: Boothe was well respect among his teammates, but didn’t do much on the field. He played just 19 offensive snaps last year, and the team has young players in backup roles along the offensive line. He has played a lot of guard in the past, but he didn’t get much of an opportunity last year. Offensive line coach Mike Tice’s opinion of Boothe’s value, ad McKenzie’s offseason acqusitions will go a long way in determining whether he stays.