We all knew the Raiders were over the cap. The question was, just how much? Well, today we found out. At $145.7 million, the Raiders are more than $25 million over the cap of $120 million. Yikes. Al Davis’ big contracts have left Oakland strapped for cash. There are, however, several moves which can be done and several names pegged as potential salary cap casualties. Here’s a look at each of them:
Richard Seymour, DT: $15 million against the cap
Solution: Restructure. Even Richard Seymour realizes this is a ridiculous contract. He has already intimated a willingness to spread his contract over more years for more guaranteed money (similar to what we did with Routt last year). Depending on the structure of the new deal, the Raiders would save $5-7 million this year, at the risk of adding years to an aging veteran’s contract. Though at the tail-end of his career, Seymour is coming off a Pro Bowl appearance and is too important a leader on defense to lose.
Carson Palmer, QB: $12.5 million against the cap
Solution: Restructure. The Raiders simply gave up too much in acquiring Palmer to cut him at this point. He’s under contract through 2014, and showed enough in spots to instill confidence that he can be a good quarterback, especially with a full off-season under his belt. Restructuring Palmer’s $12.5 million number could save the Raiders up to $6 million this year, though the rest would count against the cap in future years.
Kamerion Wimbley, OLB: $11 million against the cap
Solution: Do nothing. This might be the toughest contract to swallow. Wimbley may be the Raiders’ best pass rusher, but he by no means deserves this kind of money. The good news is, he is young (26) and can dominate in any given game. The bad news? He has not been willing to restructure his deal and is guaranteed roughly half of the money remaining on his contract. So, cutting Wimbley saves $6 million, but still costs the team $5 million. Can the Raiders find anyone better for $6million? It would be even tougher to swallow if we were to cut Wimbley and see him succeed elsewhere, and so he stays.
Tommy Kelly, DT: $8.9 million against the cap
Solution: Cut him. Let me preface this by saying Tommy Kelly is a good player. He is not, however $8 million good. Couple that with another high-paid DT in Richard Seymour and a young, up and comer in Lamarr Houston (who fits better inside than at end) and Kelly is dispensable. Cutting him would save the Raiders $6 million in non-guaranteed money. It is unfortunate, as Kelly has developed into a good pass-rushing defensive tackle; however, he’s been part of some bad run defenses, so maybe his loss won’t be as heavily felt as one might think.
Michael Huff, DB: $5.8 million against the cap
Solution: Do nothing. Michael Huff is arguably the most talented cover guy currently on the Raiders roster. The bad news? He was part of an atrocious pass defense last year. With Stanford Routt getting cut, this defense simply can’t afford to lose more talent, even if it’s inconsistent talent at that. What’s more, Huff may be moved to CB, which would make his contract much more tolerable.
Aaron Curry, OLB: $5.7 million against the cap
Solution: Restructure or cut. While he has shown flashes of his former first round self, the fact is Aaron Curry is a liability in coverage and over-pursues too often (could say that about the whole linebacker group). While he definitely has the athletic ability you look for, he must be coached up and is not worth the $5.7 million he’s due next year. There are also questions about where Curry would fit in a potential 3-4 defense. He has potential, so you’d like to keep him on the roster for if/when this potential is realized, but if he won’t restructure (saving $2-3 million this year) you cut him. Plain and simple.
John Henderson, DT: $4.75 million against the cap
Solution: Cut him. These next two are easy. Bloated contracts for role players cannot be kept on with the Raiders’ current cap situation. Henderson is strictly a run stopper at this point in his career. Cutting him would save $4 million in cap room, money which could be better spent elsewhere.
Hiram Eugene, S: $2.5 million against the cap
Solution: Cut him. Speaking of money better spent elsewhere, Eugene is a special teams player at best. His contract isn’t guaranteed, so all of this $2.5 million would come off the books.
Cap Before: $145.7 million
Cap After These Moves: $115.2 million to $120.2 million
There you go. Now we’re back below the cap. These moves would hurt the depth of the team but wouldn’t have a huge effect on starters (minus Kelly). The days of the Raiders signing players to outlandish, overblown contracts seems to be fortunately done. The mistakes of the previous era, however, will take a few years to correct. This offers just a bit of freedom to re-sign a few of our more important players, though more will need to be done for the Raiders to sign any free agents of value.