The Raiders came into the 2017 season with quiet Super Bowl aspirations after a strong 2016 season was scuppered by an injury to Derek Carr. After two weeks things looked good, but the Raiders challenge soon disappeared as the offense struggled to keep moving and the defense capitulated in the face of basically anyone.
The decision to bring Marshawn Lynch home failed to create a meaningful running game and with a terrible defense all the pressure was on Derek Carr and the passing game, which simply couldn’t cover for the deficiencies of the rest of the team.
The Raiders ended up going 6-10, missing the playoffs by a long way and generally disappointing fans in the Bay Area who only have a few seasons left with their team.
Heading into 2018, the Raiders have a lot of work to do to become competitive and just $27.9 million in cap space heading into free agency they have little space to make meaningful improvements. Who could they move on from in order to create more?
Bruce Irvin, OLB – save $8.25 million
Irvin is carrying the seventh-highest cap hit on the roster for 2018, and the Raiders can clear every cent of it by cutting him. While he played far and away the most snaps of any linebacker with the Raiders, that position group is surely high on the list for improving.
Irvin made just 58 tackles despite playing 84.6% of snaps, while he did pick up eight sacks and 14 tackles for loss, his overall impact was far from consistent and with such a big cap hit he could easily be pushed aside to make way for new players.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR – $3.25 million
Patterson’s main impact is in the return game. He has registered five kick return touchdowns in his career, but with the increase in both touchbacks and tactical kickoffs to specifically limit returns his ability to contribute has been diminished.
Patterson returned just 19 kicks last year with an average of 28.3 yards per return. Offensively he caught 31 passes and has 13 carries. So he was far from a big part of the offensive gameplan for the Raiders.
With $3.25 million to be saved by moving on from him it will be very tempting for the Raiders to drop him from their roster.
Marshawn Lynch, RB – save $5.9 million
After a year away from football Marshawn Lynch returned to football with his hometown team and was fairly unspectacular. He registered 4.3 yards per carry, which isn’t awful, but it is only marginally better than the 4.0 number that Latavius Murray posted in 2016 and was bad enough for the team to pursue Lynch in the first place.
As “Beast Mode” heads toward his 32nd birthday there is unlikely to be any sort of bounceback or return to form to the levels we saw in Seattle. The aging curve is cruel to running backs, and saving almost $6 million in cap space by moving on from him is going to be very tempting as they roll through free agency and watch the running back market stay remarkably flat.
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