Zo Huddle
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FSM Presents: The Raiders Realist – No Returns Without A Receipt

Franchise Sports Media

 

“A real change requires a sacrifice. Some parts of you will have to go. And never return.” ― Robert Celner

The Raiders Realist
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Raiders

Nothing like the downtime in the National Football League. All the rumors, speculation, innuendos, and flat-out misinformation. For the Las Vegas Raiders, it has become an annual tradition. Who will replace Derek Carr? How will the team address the defense? Who is on the draft radar? That is why I hate this time of year because facts and information give way to narrative-based conjecture. It allows a bunch of people with no credentials to come off sounding like they know something. Here’s a tip: They do not.

Here is something, though, that is rooted in fact. The Raiders are currently not in a position to do much in free agency right this second. At just under $9 million in salary cap room, the team is going to have to make some subtractions before they can contemplate any additions.

Gone already are Tyrell Williams and Gabe Jackson. Both are solid players, but the bottom line is neither played well enough to justify the numbers they were paid. That is more of a problem with the Raiders front office than the players themselves, but I digress. The offensive line will most certainly look different in 2021.

 

Right now, to have a shot at some of the targets that have been bandied about as possibilities, notably safety John Johnson of the Los Angeles Rams, the Raiders are going to have to trim some meat and not just fat off this team.

 

Raiders vs Buccaneers
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Raiders

Sorry, Trent Brown, that was not a shot at you, I promise. But the reality is, he does represent a nice healthy cap bump at $14 million if released. Personally, I hope the team keeps him because, savings or not, you’re not getting a better right tackle in the draft or free agency. But I am not Mike Mayock, so we’ll see.

There is also Lamarcus Joyner. I can’t call him a gigantic disappointment because, like me, he’s 5’9″. So he has been a height average disappointment. Joyner simply has not been very good. A lot of it due to the fact that his best position was clearly safety in Los Angeles with the Rams and the Raiders refused to put him there. His physicality is nice for the slot corner position, but he far too often lacked the quickness to keep up with shiftier wideouts getting in and out of breaks. Which meant a lot of conversions happening when the anemic pass rush gave opposing quarterbacks too much time to throw the ball on third down. Vicious circle of suck.

With left guard Richie Incognito likely being given a shot to return from his Achilles injury, that leaves one notable trade/cut option and one that has slipped under the radar. The obvious, of course, is backup quarterback Marcus Mariota. Who, in the course of three weeks, went from potentially fetching a third-round draft pick to being a candidate to get cut. The good thing for the Raiders is, they save $10,725,000 in cap space regardless. The bad thing is, cutting a proven player like Mariota to risk having Nathan Peterman getting snaps is a dangerous game. But Marcus can’t play defensive tackle, so he’s almost certainly gone.

 

The deep cut of the bunch, someone I have seen a few people who have smartly looked over the Raiders roster and seen, is Jalen Richard.

 

Raiders vs Patriots
Photo Credit: Charles Krupa/AP

One of the last vestiges of the Reggie McKenzie era, Richard would save $3.5 million in salary cap room without any dead cap if he was released. That is a lot of money for a third-down back who had a total of 41 touches in 2020. Considering Theo Riddick signed a prorated deal for the minimum, it stands to reason the Raiders could get a comparable player for much less in the draft or via free agency. Still, Richard has been valuable in his five years, so his release is definitely no sure thing.

As with everything else, reality will bear itself out in the course of time. But that being said, I am really glad Mike Mayock went on record and said what most sane people had said all along, and that is Derek Carr is this team’s quarterback. Again, being truthful about that reality does not mean that players like Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson, both rumored to be trade possibilities to Vegas, are not great players. But football is very much a whole is greater than the sum of its parts sport. You need not just great players but great players at the right financial numbers to enable you to get complimentary players to support them.

The price tag it would take to acquire a Wilson or a Watson offsets their improvements over Carr for the Raiders. This team must get better defensively, and anything that takes capital away from potentially addressing that side of the ball is a net negative. If you do not get that by now, you never will, so we are moving on.

 

Before I check out this week, I want to stray from football just a bit to get on the soapbox.

 

I can understand how some people might be hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccination for any number of reasons, some practical, some honestly, irrational. But as someone who got my first dose last weekend and will get the second one in a couple of weeks, I am urging people, if you get the chance, get your vaccine shot. Please. It literally could be the difference between life and death.

 

Recently, I lost a good friend, someone I knew for 25 years whose underlying conditions were completely overwhelming because she came down with COVID-19 and it killed her. She was just 40 years old. This virus does not play politics or race or favorites. It just preys on people who are physically vulnerable. So please, get treated. Help save a life, even if it is not your own.

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CJ Baldwin – Franchise Sports Media

Follow CJ on Twitter @ManusBaldSpot

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