Raiders Complete Demolition, Terminate Rolando McClain


The odyssey of Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie’s quest to eliminate “out of whack” contracts and other malcontents has come to a close. With the official release of linebacker Rolando McClain on Monday (he was waived Friday, but did not clear waivers until Monday) McKenzie has eliminated every person and every contract he felt was detrimental to the Raiders long term success. The net result: though some may be re-signed, currently only 17 of the 53 plus players including those on injured reserve when the Hue Jackson led Raiders lost to the Chargers in 2011 in finish 8-8 remain. Only 7 of those 17 are under contract for the 2014 season. Hue Jackson was right when he said “Reggie is going to gut this place” and as any situation where a new manager takes over a financially over-extended and under-performing business, it was much needed and long overdue. This will be looked at in a future post though.

First, McClain. While his contract wasn’t Mr. Al Davis’ fault, he was another in a long line of 1st round failures. While drafted to much hype, questions about how he would translate to an even front defense and having to cover more ground weren’t heard too often. People were happy to finally have a promising young linebacker to man the middle for years after many 1st round reaches and busts. Lauded for his intelligence, work ethic, and instincts, McClain was supposed to be the poster child for a turn around of both the team and the way the team drafted hopefully. As most things have gone with the Raiders, it obviously didn’t quite turn out that way.

McClain was often exposed in coverage, though part of that was exacerbated when at times he was inexplicably asked to cover the likes of Calvin Johnson 25 yard plus downfield. McClain never seemed to comfortable in space and struggles sideline to sideline. While he would deliver some ferocious hits if the player was not too far down the field and between the tackles, not only would McClain often fail to show up elsewhere, he had many a mental lapse as most of the Raiders defense often did. One such example was a game against the Packers in Green Bay in late 2011. McClain had crept up right behind Richard Seymour and they both shot the same gap at the snap. Instead of letting the play unfold and acting more in a “contain” role, McClain along with the defensive tackles shot straight through giving up positioning as usual, enabling a 47 yard touchdown. The Raiders defense was obliterated that game, giving up 4 touchdowns in 2 quarters.

As often was the problem with the rest of the defense, they gambled a lot, and for every impressive play they made, their lack of discipline caused them to give up many more. When the defense gave up a bad play, it was often atrocious, and they were continually gashed in this manner. McClain, like the rest of the defense, didn’t lack all that much physical talent, but the mental discipline aspect of the game was always non-existent for them. Now, that will be the problem of a different team and hopefully in the past for the Raiders.

As for the financial aspect of the move, while we still don’t know if a non-vested player can be designated a June 1st release after clearing waivers and having his contract terminated, the point is pretty much moot. The reason for this is that according to the always informative Joel Corry, McClain’s base salary guarantees of $1,535,000 in 2013 and $2,100,000 in 2014 were voided thanks to Al Davis’ always cautious contract language. Because of this, the Raiders are “only” on the hook for $7,260,000, a small increase of $585,000 over what would have been his cap figure of $6,675,000. For a player with attitude questions, off the field antics, and subpar play, it was an obvious move to make despite being essentially a cap neutral move. McClain was Al Davis’ last 1st round pick and in many ways represented a lot of things about the last few years of the Raiders. At one time he represented hope, which turned out to be false. He represented a failure of the 1st round drafting process for the Raiders, the last one of that time before the picks of the next two years were traded. McClain represented the flashing of talent along with the maddening inconsistency that plagued the team. There are a lot of things McClain represented but now he represents just one thing about the Raiders: the old way of building a team has in effect, been terminated. Overpaid and underperforming talent are things of the past and will not be part of the plan going forward. Well, except for Mike Brisiel, but no one is perfect.

After this move, the Raiders had roughly $7,900,000 in salary cap space (and an amazing $46,357,222 in dead money), but have since signed CB Mike Jenkins, FS Usama Young, and re-signed DE Andre Carter and CB Joselio Hanson so the number doesn’t hold much use now. I’d anticipate it’s at least 3 million less, if not more. I also believe based on the reports from the NFLPA, that RB Jeremy Stewart, OL Alex Parsons, and CB Brandian Ross have been tendered contracts as ERFAs. I’ll be looking at where the Raiders go from here at some point, and as Jason mentioned in his podcast, perhaps what could have been done last offseason, but for now, I’ll let the dust settle with the completion of the demolition.

Jim can be reached at


The Financial Impact of Releasing Rolando McClain


One of the recent reports coming out of Raider nation deals with the pending release of LB Rolando McClain, a 2010 draft selection who has, lets just say, not seen eye to eye with Oakland. McClain is a talented player but may be someone who proves to be uncoachable at this level. I think there have been a number of differing reports as to what happens if he is released so lets sort through it and  look at the mechanisms at play if McClain is released.

Having been a top 10 pick under the old CBA, McClain’s contract is pretty much a salary cap minefield filled with escalators and guarantees. McClain received an option bonus in 2011 of $12,100,000. That was prorated over the life of the contract. If cut the remaining unaccounted for money will immediately accelerate onto the salary cap. That amount is $7.26 million.

The Raiders would then have an option of how to account for that money. They could opt to have it all count in 2013 or they could designate McClain a June 1 cut. What the June 1 cut would do is allow them is to hold McClain on the books at his current cap charge of $6.675 million until June 1st at which point his cap number would reduce to $2.42 million in 2013 and he would then have a 2014 dead money cap number of $4.84 million.

From there the contract becomes significantly more complex. McClain has an additional $3.635 million in fully guaranteed salary that he is owed by Oakland. Because McClain is not yet a vested veteran he would be subject to the waiver claim process meaning 31 teams could claim his contract and the guarantees with it. The problem is what happens if no team claims him?

If no team was to claim McClain that money will immediately accelerate onto the Raiders cap making the charge right a touch below $10.895 million after applying a present value calculation. That makes waiving McClain an extremely risky prospect for the Raiders who would lose $4.22 million plus the cost of a replacement player off their current cap figure. That puts the Raiders right back in the danger zone for continued restructures. It was in my opinion why the Raiders did not waive him last year- their salary cap at the time could not absorb the charge associated with it if he went unclaimed.

While the June 1 designation is an option it would not apply to the guaranteed portion of his salary. Per the CBA:

Any portion of Salary guaranteed for any period after a player is released for a reason covered by the guarantee (e.g., future years’ guaranteed Salary, when the player is released for a reason covered by the guarantee) shall be immediately included in Team Salary at the time of his release at its present value rate calculated using the Discount Rate.

If designated a June 1 cut the Raiders would incur a cap charge of $6.055 million in 2013 and $4.84 million in 2014. While they would receive credits for that salary owed to McClain it will all be dependent on the timing of his signing or being claimed by another club. The possibility of a near $11 million dollar acceleration  that would cut their cap space in half would severely compromise the team in free agency, even if just on the books for a few days. Remember once March 12 rolls along the salary cap is active 24/7 so you cant jump the cap to make a signing even if you know an additional $3 million is coming off the books in a few days.

Unless the Raiders could work out a trade in which it was a guarantee that his contract was being taken on by another club I would think this uncertainty makes the June 1 release the only option for the team to maintain their $8+ million cap cushion during free agency. Unfortunately that means pushing more money into the future which is something the Raiders need to stop doing. Its just another level of complexity that comes with attempting to effectively manage the salary cap.


The Financial Implications of Releasing Rolando McClain

It was recently reported that Rolando McClain’s tenure with the Oakland Raiders may be coming to a quick end with the player being thrown off the practice field and McClain later using social media to state that his time in Oakland is finished. While no moves have officially been made I thought it would be worth looking over what a release might mean.

McClain’s contract would be subject to the waiver system meaning another NFL team could have the option of claiming him and his contract. If claimed the team would be on the hook for salaries of $4,005,000 in 2013 and $5,805,000 in 2014 as well as the balance of his $970,000 salary in 2012. The claiming team would also be responsible for the remaining guarantees in the contract of $1,535,000 in 2013 and $2,100,000 in 2014.McClain can also earn increased salary in 2013 and 2014 via escalator clauses.

If McClain went unclaimed the Raiders would be responsible for those future payments and they would immediately accelerate onto the 2012 salary cap, which may be too much for the Raiders to bear. According to Pro Football Talk the Raiders were about $4.6 million under the cap in early November. 3.6 million of additional charges plus the money spent to replace his roster spot would leave them with almost no room to operate for the rest of the year. This may mean that the best option for Oakland is to deactivate him for remainder of the season and to try to work out a trade once the season ends.