Gutierrez: Raiders scrambling to get under cap

August 4, 2011, 4:19 pm
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Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comIt's crunch time for the Raiders' bean counters.With a 1 p.m. PT deadline for Oakland to be under the NFL's 120-million salary cap, the Raiders are purportedly feverishly working to shed salary andor restructure contracts. Because according to ESPN, the Raiders "enter the day more than 15 million over the salary cap."In this unusual post-lockout landscape, the top 51-paid players' contracts on the roster form the payroll, which has to be under the "soft" cap, giving teams some 3 million in wiggle room. There is always a way around the cap, and if Al Davis wants a certain player, he generally gets him. A rare exception, of course, being tight end Zach Miller.As theorized here and in many corners of Silver and Blackdom, the Raiders could potentially cut some relatively big names or restructure the deals of big name contracts to get under. Of course, that would put significant pressure on future years.Richard Seymour (two years, 30 million with 22.5 million guaranteed) and Stanford Routt (three years, 31.5 million, 20 million guaranteed) are likely, if unusual candidates to be re-worked, since they both re-signed this offseason, before the lockout hit.Then there are guys like right guard Cooper Carlisle (due 2.5 million) and receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who got on the practice field for the first time this camp on Wednesday with an undisclosed injury.Oakland's pursuit of free agent tight end Kevin Boss seemingly hinges on its cap issues, even as the Raiders have signed a glut of players in recent days, including quarterback Trent Edwards and offensive linemen Justin Smiley and Samson Satele while re-signing linebacker Kamerion Wimbley to an extension with 29 million guaranteed and free safety Michael Huff to a 32-million over four years-deal.Of course, there is also a lot riding on the players union re-certifying itself today to get the league year officially started. Otherwise, no players, not just the veterans signed since the lockout ended, can practice today.