The Raiders waived safety Jonathan Dowling on Saturday afternoon in a surprise move. Last year's final seventh-round draft pick was viewed as a developing prospect described as a draft steal shortly after his selection.
The Western Kentucky alum worked with the second unit throughout camp. He was fighting for a backup role with fellow safeties Brandian Ross and Larry Asante throughout camp, and seemed to be faring well. The Raiders also added to Dowling's position group by Taylor Mays this week, but the two players didn't occupy the same safety role.
This release seems to be about more than football.
Dowling was an eccentric sort, and his personality sometimes didn't mesh well with others in the locker room during his rookie year. Immaturity was believed to be an issue last season, especially when he was involved in unflattering rumors and internet posts connecting him to reality stars from the VH1 reality show "Love and Hip Hop: Hollywood."
The Raiders' new coaching staff wants their talent focused on football, and Dowling may not have been someone they wanted to put up with. It's uncertain at this time whether a specific incident or trend this preseason prompted this transaction.
Dowling primarily played special teams during seven games in his rookie season, though that role was to become more defensive in 2015. Dowling played 72 snaps over two preseason games, recording one tackle, a pass defense and an interception in that span.
A corresponding move isn't immediately expected from Dowling's release, and one may never come. The Raiders play the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday night, and NFL rosters must be trimmed to 75 on Tuesday afternoon. The Raiders must get down to 53 guys on Sept. 5, after Thursday's exhibition finale at Seattle. The Raiders currently employ 88 players, down from the 90-man maximum after Dowling and Friday's release of offensive lineman Quinterrius Eatmon.