Thus far this young offseason, Las Vegas Raiders rumors have consisted of them cutting their salary cap in order to be big-time players once NFL free agency opens. That previously included moving on from free-agent bust, wide receiver Tyrell Williams.
It now looks like head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock are prepared to gut an offensive line that has been among the most consistent in the NFL over the past several seasons.
As you might guess, the primary reason for this is finances leading into a a free agency period that will be turned upside down due to COVID-19 and the economic downfall it has created around the league.
Las Vegas Raiders to release star guard Gabe Jackson
NFL insider Josina Anderson, formerly of ESPN, reported on Wednesday that Jackson has been informed he will be released later in the week.
Raiders rumors have suggested that this might be the case. Prior to starting all 16 games last season and playing at a near Pro Bowl level, the 29-year-old guard had fallen on some hard times. He struggled with both injuries and consistency in the three seasons before returning to form in 2020.
A third-round pick out of Mississippi State back in 2013, Jackson had been a fixture on the Raiders’ offensive line over the past several seasons. In his seven years with the team, the veteran guard has started 99 of the 100 games in which he’s appeared. By making this move now, Las Vegas saves a cool $9.6 million against the 2021 NFL salary cap. It also does not take a dead cap hit.
Las Vegas Raiders rumors: Team could trade Pro Bowl tackle Trent Brown
Less than two years after handing Brown what was then a record-breaking four-year, $66 million contract, it appears that the Raiders are set to divorce their starting right tackle.
A seventh-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers back in 2015, Brown had morphed into one of the better right tackles in the game. In fact, he earned a trip to the Pro Bowl with Las Vegas back in 2019. That came after Brown performed at an elite level as a left tackle for the Patriots the previous season.
Unfortunately, this past year was defined by both injuries and some major COVID-related issues. Brown, 27, played in all of five games. He was also subjected to criticism for violating the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols. Remember, the Raiders themselves were fined and stripped a draft pick for violating said protocols.
Despite this, Raiders rumors suggest that they might be able to get something for the tackle in a trade. Brown is slated to count $14 million against the cap in 2021. As with Jackson, the Raiders would not incur a dead cap hit if they were to either release or trade him.
Raiders 2021 NFL salary cap situation
Prior to the Jackson release being made official and Brown’s situation still up in the air, Las Vegas found itself $4.10 million over the estimated 2021 NFL salary cap.
Even then, the team has a ton of flexibility to create cap room and become major players once NFL free agency opens in two weeks. Moving off Jackson and Brown would save a combined $23.6 million against said cap.
There’s also an expectation that the Raiders will release defensive back LaMarcus Joyner, quarterback Marcus Mariota and guard Richie Incognito. Those three moves would save a combined $25 million.
Needless to say, they Raiders will end up having room to improve a defense that yielded nearly 30 points per game a season ago. That will be their central focal point once free agency opens.