On Sept. 1, approximately 1,184 players from around the NFL will immediately become free agents as part of ‘cut-down day.’ Throughout the preseason, teams have been able to carry 90 players on their roster, but on this one day, each team needs to remove 37 players from their active roster as they wrap-up the preseason and prepare for Week 1.
For the Oakland Raiders, it seems as if this year’s cuts will be harder than ever before — mostly because they have a remarkable amount of depth at some positions (notably RB, WR and DL). So with that in mind, this piece will serve as Part 1 of our predictions for which players are likely to be around for the season opener against the Rams:
Quarterbacks: Derek Carr, Connor Cook, QB TBD
While Derek Carr remains firmly entrenched as the team’s most important player, the two guys behind him have been underwhelming at best. With that in mind, I’m guessing the Raiders keep Cook around to bridge the gap until they find a veteran they feel more comfortable with. When other teams release their cuts, look for the Raiders to be on the hunt for a new backup quarterback.
Running backs/fullback: Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, Jalen Richard, Chris Warren, Keith Smith (Deandre Washington will start the season on Physically Unable to Perform [PUP] list)
In some ways, the Washington injury sustained last week is good news for everyone involved. It allows the Raiders to keep him around for the beginning of the season in case they suffer another injury while for Washington, it means the Raiders can kick the can down the road as far as what they want to do with him. Throughout the preseason, Washington has looked to be the odd man out thanks to the emergence of Warren, the undrafted rookie out of Texas.
Wide Receivers: Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant, Seth Roberts, Marcell Ateman, Dwayne Harris (Griff Whalen will start the season on IR)
With news breaking Monday morning that newly acquired Ryan Switzer was being shipped to Pittsburgh, this group became significantly more clear. With Switzer gone, you’d think that Roberts’ job is safe (I’m guessing they would have rather moved Roberts, but that Switzer’s return was too great to pass up), while Harris seems a safe bet to be the team’s return man. As for the rookie Ateman, his strong camp and Switzer’s departure makes keeping him much easier.
Tight Ends: Jared Cook, Lee Smith, Derek Carrier
No drama here — all three of these guys figure to play big roles this season, both as blockers and as receivers.
Offensive Line: Kolton Miller, Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson, Donald Penn, Brandon Parker, Jon Feliciano, Ian Silberman
What has long been a strength for the Raiders should enter the season as a major question mark. While the interior is as good as ever, the two tackle positions should have Derek Carr worried. As the rookie Miller still appears to be a work in progress, Donald Penn’s first try at right tackle didn’t go so well. Behind the starters, it gets even bleaker. Aside from quarterback, I think this is the second most likely position to be addressed after cut day.
On the cut line: David Sharpe (OL)
Oakland’s fourth-round pick, Sharpe, from a year ago hasn’t been able to develop into the guy Reggie McKenzie was hoping he would get when he drafted him and that might mean his time in Oakland is over with. Last season, however, the Raiders opened the year with nine offensive linemen on the roster and if they do that again, I’ve got Sharpe ninth on my list.