Raiders Don’t Have A Lot Of Options When It Comes To Releasing Big Contracts To Create Cap Space

With the potential down the road that the Raiders might consider freeing up a little salary cap space, it’s worth taking a minute to look at a few players whose absence might give the team a little cap relief.

With all the positive reports around Kolton Miller (other than the fact that Arden Key is taking all the Raiders O-linemen to school in camp), the Raiders might have a big decision to make on Donald Penn. If they were to release the 35 year-old left tackle, the Raiders cap space would jump from $2.26 million all the way up to $7.01 million.

There might not be anyone on the roster that needs a good August more than Penn. He has more than $5 million on the line (by making the team) and even if the Raiders do want him around, they’ll almost certainly ask him to take a pay cut between now and the first game of the regular season. If no team is looking for a starting left tackle in early September, the Raiders could easily squeeze a couple million out of Penn by giving him a last-minute ultimatum – especially if Miller’s is even remotely encouraging in preseason.

Based on reports out of training camp, Seth Roberts is no lock to be on the roster in September. His cap number this year is $4.45 million, but his contract comes with a catch – because of dead money, the Raiders actually gain no cap space by releasing Roberts. explained the reason the Raiders are essentially handcuffed to his salary:

“Seth Roberts signed a two year contract extension with the Raiders on August 31, 2017. Robert’s contract is worth $10.542 million and includes $4 million fully guaranteed at signing. Another $2.25 million will become fully guaranteed if on the Raiders roster on the 3rd day of the 2018 league year.”

Yes, the third day of the 2018 league year has long passed.

Another name that was tossed around as a potential cap casualty a few months ago was tight end Jared Cook. The Raiders would get a little over $5 million in cap room by parting ways with Cook (roughly the same as they’d get by releasing Penn), but Cook seems to have settled in nicely with Jon Gruden.

In fact, Cook looks like a strong candidate to have a big bounce-back year in 2018.

As the Raiders salary cap relates to Khalil Mack, there just aren’t many bad contracts on the table to trim other than maybe Penn. General manager Reggie McKenzie could nickel and dime a few lighter salaries, but the better plan (and only real option at this point) would be to re-work a few deals the way he recently did with Rodney Hudson.

The good news is that next year the Raiders can wiggle around a lot more with the cap. So maybe by then Mack will get the contract he deserves… preferably in Oakland.

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