Current Estimated 2016 Cap Space: $71.9 million
Expected 2016 Cap Space: $78.3 million
Estimated Rookie Cap: $6.267 million
Players Under Contract: 44
Pro Bowlers: 3
Unrestricted Free Agents: 14(3 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 14
Salary Cap Breakdown
Free Agents to Re-sign
While I think the Raiders will explore free agency for a left tackle, at the end of the day they will probably bring back Donald Penn on a two year contract. Penn has been decent and there are not many other options this year…Aldon Smith is currently suspended but I would expect the Raiders to keep him. Smith is immensely talented and if he can get his demons behind him he would give the Raiders the makings of a terrifying defense…Marquette King will be back at punter…Given the lack of secondary depth I would expect one of the safeties, Larry Asante or Taylor Mays, to be back. I’d lean towards Asante
Free Agents to Let Walk
J’Marcus Webb was basically out of the league but the Raiders were desperate for help. They will find a different solution this season…Rod Streater and Andre Holmes got lost in the shuffle and will look for opportunities elsewhere.
Contracts to Modify
The Raiders have already given Nate Allen a pay cut and it’s possible that Curtis Lofton agreed to remove a guarantee date on his salary for them to do the same…Beyond those two players the only considerations the Raiders have will likely come during the season when they consider extensions for Marcel Reece, Latavious Murray, and Jon Condo.
Players to Consider Releasing
If Lofton did agree to waive his guarantee they should just release him outright. This is a position you can generally upgrade in the draft. They would save $5.5 million if they cut him…I expected Roy Helu to be a great fit but he ever found a role and is not worth $2 million to keep…If the Raiders can find a trade partner for DJ Hayden it would be worth moving him. He’s been a bust and a change of scenery might be best for both sides. If they trade him they can save $1.8 million.
As the 32nd ranked team in Commitment Index, the Raiders have more spending capacity than any other team in the league. The fact that they rank 5th in 2016 True Cap Space is only the product of base salary guarantees associated with contracts signed in 2015. Beyond 2016, the team’s only true salary cap commitments of $3 million are more concern Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack, two players that the team almost certainly does not mind committing to. With a starting QB signed for two more seasons on a rookie contract and the team reportedly $41 million below the minimum spending threshold of 89% of the aggregate of the 2013-2016 salary caps, the Raiders should be willing and able to execute large deals this offseason.
The following point applies to a number of teams, although the Raiders provide a good opportunity to raise the issue. Some might argue that a team with as much current salary cap space and future salary cap flexibility as the Raiders does not need to release players for salary cap reasons, thereby rendering the Expected Outcomes of players like Smith Allen, Helu and Reece irrelevant. However, in a salary cap regime in which cap space can be freely transferred from one season to the next (unlike, for example, the NBA), any salary cap dollar wasted in one season is a salary cap dollar not available in future seasons. Therefore, inefficient contracts should be terminated regardless of team salary cap situation (whether a given contract is inefficient ultimately being a determination based in part on talent evaluation, team positional need and market supply/demand).
Expected Contract Outcomes – Expected Contract Value 2.0 utilizes an algorithm based on a player’s contract characteristics, age, position and 2015 performance to forecast probabilities as to the outcomes of contract termination decisions. The lower the Expected Outcome, the more likely the player’s contract will be terminated in 2016. A pay cut is treated as a termination. We have applied ECV 2.0 to all contracts scheduled to count $2 million or more against the 2016 salary cap with the exception of exercised 5th year rookie options. Expected Savings is the calculated by multiplying the probability a player will be released by the cap savings realized by the team upon such release.
|Player||Position||Expected Outcome||Expected Savings|
|Expected Change in Cap Room||+$14,242,670|
True Cap Space – Realizable Cap Space depicts the total amount of salary cap space potentially at the team’s disposal in 2016, and True Cap Space makes further adjustments to take into consideration amounts that are accounted for in practical terms. Most True Cap Space will be used on players currently under contract as a result of the team choosing to not release them.
|True Cap Space (2016)|
|Adjusted Salary Cap||$163,404,867|
|Prorated Signing Bonus Amounts||($13,980,365)|
|Realizable Cap Space||$149,424,502|
|Fully Guaranteed Salary||($17,141,560)|
|Minimum Salary Cap Holds||($21,600,000)|
|True Cap Space||$110,682,942|
Commitment Index – Commitment Index identifies the degree to which a team has “mortgaged its future” by measuring its net future salary cap commitments as a percentage of the average net future salary cap commitments of all teams. A Commitment Index Score of 100% is average, and a negative Commitment Index Score indicates that the team has more current salary cap space than future salary cap commitments. The Commitment Index Score of every team in the league changes to at least some degree with every transaction executed by any team in the league, so Commitment Index Score is measured as of a specific point in time (in this case, January 11, 2016).
|Commitment Index (2017+)|
|Prorated Signing Bonus Amounts||$16,576,122|
|Fully Guaranteed Salary||$9,378,528|
|Current Cap Space||($70,618,686)|
|Commitment Index Score||-259%|
|League Rank (1st = Most Committed)||32nd|
For the first time in about a decade the Raiders are showing legit promise to turn the corner. With a young quarterback in Derek Carr who looks like he may be a Pro Bowl level player the Raiders arguably are going to be the team of the future in the AFC West, which has seen the other three teams age considerably at the position. The Raiders arguably have the best defender in the NFL in Khalil Mack who can wreck games and have a nice young receiver in Amari Cooper. Add in a few building block pieces on the offensive and defensive lines and a 1,000 yard runner this is the time for the Raiders to use free agency to make a run at the playoffs and not just to add a few pieces to fill the roster.
Rebuilding the secondary is probably the prime objective in free agency. This is a deep year for safeties and the Raiders can decide between a number of veterans like Eric Weddle and Reggie Nelson or younger talent like Tashaun Gipson, Eric Berry, and George Iloka. The Raiders need to come away with two starting safeties rather than relying on Nate Allen to cover one of the positions.
Cornerback is also deep this year. The most interesting name I think could be Casey Heyward. Heyward can play inside and out and comes from a solid organization in Green Bay, which is something the Raiders I think look for in a player. Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson from the Rams are both solid players that should be considered. Id lean against Prince Amukamara who may have the highest upside but has some injury issues that scare me. If they go for the more expensive veteran they can look at the Chiefs Sean Smith who may be the best available player. The Raiders have the room to do it if they choose. Leon Hall and Greg Toler would be the other veteran possibilities.
This is not a great year to find linebackers in free agency, which is probably one of the reasons they have not moved on from Lofton just yet, so it will probably be a bigger draft need than free agent one. I could see flirting with Danny Trevathan from the Broncos, but other names like Demario Davis certainly don’t excite anyone.
Would the Raiders look to add another defensive tackle to the mix? Damon Harrison, Ian Williams or Jaye Howard could be had for reasonable costs and pair up nicely with Dan Williams on the inside. There are other options who may be out there who are less known like Steve McLendon that could be nice rotational players on the inside. With cash to burn they could build a tremendous defensive line.
On offense the team will look for a guard to replace Webb. I would anticipate that to be a draft need rather than a free agent one since there are really no surefire players to go to that side. They could opt to shuffle some guys around but Id rather players stay in their natural spots. Marcel Reece plays a unique role for the team such that they may not need a backup runner, but signing a James Starks type to share some of the load with Murray might be a good insurance policy.
The Raiders have a real chance next year at winning the AFC West if they can bring in the pieces on defense to fill those big gaps. The type of players they will target should not force them to move off their typical contract structure. I think as long as they can carry over between $15 and $25 million in cap room they should be in a tremendous position to extend Carr and Mack next offseason to meet any spending thresholds they may have to meet to comply with the CBA mandated limits.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.