When the Raiders break camp in two months, Reggie McKenzie will make tough decisions. More importantly, the roster needs paring. Meanwhile, the preseason gives players the chance to shine. With that said, here is a list of possible cuts.
DL: Mario Edwards Jr.
Listen, the Raiders did not draft P.J. Hall and Mo Hurst in the draft because they were happy with what the line looked like. Moreover, they did not sign Tank Carradine, Athyba Rubin, or Frostee Rucker because they were confident in the position group.
Edwards Jr., Justin Ellis, Eddie Vanderdoes, Trevon Hester remain on notice. Just ask Jihad Ward, traded after being a second round pick a couple of years ago.
Still, Vanderdoes and Hester are both second-year players who own a little bit longer leash. Ellis signed a contract extension and is a surprisingly good pass rusher for his size.
That puts Edwards Jr. most on the hot seat. His contract is up after this year and the Raiders brass will not cash him out based on his potential. They would rather give his reps to a younger player. Not to mention, one of these savvy veterans could outplay Edwards Jr. for the starting role.
Thus, Mario Edwards Jr.’s release would shock due to his versatility. He is good against the run too. Moreover, it would signal another failed Reggie McKenzie draft pick.
LB: Shilique Calhoun, James Cowser
Both Calhoun and Cowser have spent their share of days on the practice squad and waiver wire. Still, it would be surprising if either of these people got cut because the Raiders do not have a ton of depth at outside linebacker behind Bruce Irvin. I could imagine both hybrid ends making the roster on that need alone. However, cutting either would again waste the draft capital the Raiders put into Calhoun and the playing time the last regime gave to Cows
TE: Jared Cook, Lee Smith
Jared Cook being cut would be surprising considering he was one of Carr’s favorite receiving targets last year. Additionally, this new regime has praised him as one of the team’s top receiving targets. However, the $6 million contract is non-guaranteed.
Lee Smith seeing a release would surprise. Smith re-upped with the Raiders this offseason. He is also immensely loyal to Carr and fills the blocking tight end role. However, the Raiders have a quite a few tight ends so it may be time to Smith walk.
The only thing more surprising than seeing both these players cut is if both are on the roster for the regular season.