The Raiders continued their roster make over, releasing FS Michael Huff, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, and DE Dave Tollefson. The moves collectively saved about 6.2 million in space for the Raiders currently, bringing them to roughly 15 million under the cap. They will also gain more space in June due to Michael Huff’s June 1st designation. The moves added more than 9 million in dead money however, bringing that total to almost 27 million this season. 6 million more, namely most of Huff’s dead money as a June 1, will hit next season. That is a result of the continued and necessary culling of contracts GM Reggie McKenzie had deemed not representative of the player’s worth.
Looking at each move individually, we’ll start first with perhaps the most out of whack contract, FS Michael Huff. Unlike Bey, Huff’s deal was no longer inflated by a rookie contract under the old system, this was a deal made by Mr. Al Davis. Unfortunately due to the guaranteed salary last year, it almost necessitated being pushed off a year to this year in order to absorb the cap hit. The way Huff’s deal was restructured last year, to mimic his existing years, made it almost a guarantee Huff would not be around much longer. Though Huff flashed at times, and filled in adequately at CB last year, he never lived up to his high 1st round selection, but had been paid as such. By designating Huff a June 1st cut, The Raiders will save 8 million, though must carry his $11,288,750 cap number until then, when it will drop down to $3,288,750, all dead money. The Raiders will also be responsible for $6,208,750 in dead money next season. Both numbers are a result of Huff’s initial signing bonus, and his restructure last season. After that, Huff’s albatross contract will be removed from the books.
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey has been much maligned since he was initially drafted, in a few ways, a prime representative of Mr. Davis’ final years of running the draft for the Raiders. Bey looked to be turning the corner after 2011, but had a fairly dismal 2012, though he was not alone under Greg Knapp’s offense. While he also never lived up to his first round selection, he wasn’t an outright bust, offering value as a depth receiver. Bey was playing under the old rookie contract structure, and his inflated $10,601,000 cap number was untenable. The Raiders will absorb $5,260,000 in dead money, the remainder of his option bonus, though gain $5,341,000 in net cap space. Heyward-Bey was the last remaining player under contract from the 2009 draft for the Raiders, though a few became UFAs this offseason.
Lastly, we have a player that has no ties to Mr. Davis, DE Dave Tollefson. Tollefson came over from the Super Bowl champion Giants, after notching 5 sacks for them that year. He was expected to add some sort of pass rush for the Raiders, but managed to only notch half a sack, likely due to not having the surrounding talent he had in NY to help scheme him loose. Hardly an exorbitant contract, Tollefson was scheduled to only count $1,525,000 against the cap. The Raiders saved $900,000 in cap space by releasing him, absorbing a dead money charge of $625,000, that is made up of the guaranteed part of his salary, signing bonus, and guaranteed roster bonus. It is in a way, comforting, that Mr. McKenzie was willing to admit this mistake, something his predecessor often did not. It should be noted neither of Mr. McKenzie’s 2 main free agent signings have panned out, a perhaps troubling sign for someone noted for his ability to discern whether a player could play or not. The large difference being, this contract was not as financially crippling or as large as deals for Huff, or Seymour who currently counts for almost 14 million in dead money. If you have to bust on a free agent, it’s obviously far more palatable if the dead money is less than a million.
Though in decent cap shape, far better than the usually have been recently, the Raiders have a couple more abnormally large contracts to deal with. They very likely will be dealing with them soon as they work their way hopefully to financial soundness. In the mean time, the roster as it stands now can be found here.
Jim can be reached for any feedback or questions at JimOTC@gmail.com
Post was edited to reflect Huff’s designation as a June 1st cut