During the offseason, the NFL institutes new rules regarding kickoffs. As a result, the Raiders, like everyone else must adjust to this. Under those circumstances, teams need to carefully evaluate their respective rosters to find out where they stand. For this forum, FPC Raiders writers Pete Camarillo, Chris Simmons, Ray Aspuria, and I discuss how the Raiders will address this.
Given the new kickoff rules, what core special teamer becomes a roster cut?
We already saw a few key special teamers cut and traded before the new kickoff rules were installed. That includes returner and gunner Cordarrelle Patterson, traded to the Patriots. The team moved on from Jon Condo, Sebastian Janikowski, and Marquette King Moving forward, I would not expect too much more turnover. However, I would pay special attention to the Raiders backup backs and tight ends. They might have held a roster spot due to their abilities to wedge block on return. However, they might not need to carry any extra special teams blockers at either position.
Johnny Holton probably already knows that his number is up. With the new changes, there will be even higher levels of competition for any special teams spots and Holton has already proven limited. He may land on someone else’s roster as a speedster, but his days in the silver and black are probably done after training camp.
With special teamers no longer having the ability to generate a running start on kickoffs and the return team unable to execute wedge blocks, teams could simply go with a solo returner. He would handle both kick and punt returns. Both have inherit differences — gunners will still get to sprint towards a punt returner — but with potentially a lack of action and more touchbacks on kick return, teams can create an additional 53-man spot by having one prime returner.
While Shilique Calhoun came to Oakland via the draft, and with the linebacker depth improving, time may be short. In addition, Emmanuel Lamur shows a knack for special teams play. In that case, Calhoun could see his way out of town. Plus, Gruden makes no qualms about casting McKenzie draft picks.