The Raiders released defensive tackle Dan Williams this afternoon freeing up $4.5 million in cap space. As far as releases go this isn’t very notable though I thought the Raiders might keep him to try to recapture some return on their investment, so why am I writing about it? The basic reason I am writing on it is that I saw online a number of people wondering why it took Oakland so long to release him. Its not like Oakland needs the cap room nor are there any free agents available at the position and the draft is still a few days away. So I figured why not make a little topic out of this.
For as much success as the Raiders had last year and how good a job they have done drafting, in particular the Derek Carr and Khalil Mack picks which likely saved the job of the GM, in general I think many of their free agent acquisitions have been pretty questionable. Williams certainly fit that bill. It was one of the worst kind of signings in that there was virtually no track record to go by when they signed him to a frontloaded $25 million contract and the only thing he had going for him was a draft pedigree. It was no shock when he really didn’t give them value and reportedly didn’t give great effort all the time either.
Still the Raiders are lacking on defense so it was easy to assume that with his salary dropping to $4.5M this year after averaging $7.75M for the prior two seasons that the Raiders would give it one last try. When he escaped the first wave of cuts it would seem that the Raiders would give him a shot in the summer to make the team.
My assumption is that the Raiders were trying to figure out a way to reduce his salary for the upcoming year to a more acceptable number. For a 29 year old player who participated in about 35% of the defensive snaps that puts up no impact numbers that is probably worth about $2 million, maybe less.
In these situations teams may put in a deadline for a reworked contract that corresponds with the start of OTA’s, which for Oakland began yesterday. While players like Williams have no guaranteed money remaining in their contract, they are still protected if they suffer an injury during any offseason activities. While those injuries may not be very common they do happen and a freak occurrence during workouts could have guaranteed his entire salary. If the Raiders were aiming for a 50% or more reduction you can’t chance that happening, hence the late release.
I doubt there is much of a market for Williams so I don’t think you can completely discount the return to Oakland on a lower cost deal, but if the Raiders had a specific offer on the table that should be reduced if he comes back looking for a job. The Raiders once before, I forget who(Nate Allen?), did that release and re-sign and if for any reason they wanted to do a minimum salary benefit contract this would be the way to do it.
This release will fuel rumors about an upcoming extension for Carr, but I don’t think the two are related. This seems like it had much more to do with timing that needing more resources to sign Carr to a mega extension. Though the Raiders have not used signing bonuses for most of their contracts I think they have a great deal of leeway to do so here and make it easy to lock Carr up long term with or without Williams on the roster.
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.