The contract of defensive tackle Richard Seymour reportedly voiding last week gave the Raiders $5.419 million worth of salary cap room for 2013, and got Oakland just under the expected salary cap of $121 million, even as Seymour will still count for $13.714 million in "dead money" as a salary cap number.
Yes, general manager Reggie McKenzie still has work to do to find more salary cap room, what with only 37 players accounted for thus far, the Raiders' own free agents still out there, the two-week franchise-tag season commencing Feb. 18, free agency and trades beginning March 12 and the draft in late April.
So where else can McKenzie find salary cap room going forward?
The obvious routes are via cuts and/or further restructuring of contracts. A look, then, at potential moves and what it would save the Raiders, per documents obtained by CSNCalifornia.com...
Quarterback Carson Palmer
Cap savings by cutting him: $9.34 million
Yes, there are theories floating about that the Raiders should simply cut Carson Palmer, who has a $15.335 million cap number for 2013 and a base salary of $13 million, and go all in on Terrelle Pryor. Sorry, can't see it happening. Even if it would save the Raiders $9.34 million against the cap. A more realistic option would be the Raiders asking Palmer, who restructured last year, to take a pay cut.
Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey
Cap savings by cutting him: $5.341 million
It appears as even DHB has heard the rumblings that he is a potential cut victim, as he purportedly put in extra work at Alameda in the days following the season to show his dedication. While he may have taken a step back last season in his development, it's probably too soon to give up on him entirely. Especially with a new offense coming. A contract restructure seems more viable.
Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly
Cap savings by cutting him: $4.775 million
He seems the most likely cut candidate as he is due base salaries of $6.5 million in 2013 and $7 million in 2014, but Tommy Kelly, who acts as his own agent, would still count as more than $6.324 million as dead money in '13 as a straight cut. Maybe the Raiders re-structure Kelly, or cut him and re-sign him on the cheap. Unless, of course, they are ready to move on, which would mean the Raiders enter 2013 sans both of their DT starters from 2012.
Middle linebacker Rolando McClain
Cap savings by cutting him: None. Raiders would actually take a cap hit
True, the Raiders would have to add $585,000 to Rolando McClain's cap number, making it $7.26 million in dead money towards him in 2013, but it might be the best money ever "spent," at least for the good of the future of the franchise. Besides, he'd make "real money" in the form of base salaries totaling $12.475 million through 2015.
Right guard Mike Brisiel
Cap savings by cutting him: $2.82 million
Mike Brisiel played the last part of the year on an injured ankle that required major surgery at the conclusion of the season. He was signed to help the offensive line's transition to the zone-blocking scheme. But with the ZBS likely out, Brisiel becomes expendable, especially with top draft pick Tony Bergstrom and undrafted free agent Lucas Nix ready to jump in…at a significantly reduced rate.
Defensive end Dave Tollefson
Cap savings by cutting him: $1.6 million
He brought a championship pedigree with two Super Bowl rings but only had 1/2 a sack. He's a good locker room guy, no doubt, and less than $2 million in savings seems trivial. But the Raiders are essentially looking for space wherever they can find it. Maybe they cut him and then re-sign him for the minimum?
Linebacker Travis Goethel
Cap savings by cutting him: $575,000
O.K., now we're simply looking under the couch cushions for spare change. But every little but helps, right? Travis Goethel was not drafted by this current regime and has shown to be injury prone. Then again, he does play well on special teams…when he's not asked to be the emergency long-snapper.
Right tackle Willie Smith
Cap savings by cutting him: $550,000
Same couch cushion analogy as Travis Goethel, but Willie Smith, while he gave his best effort in the absence of Khalif Barnes, gave little in terms of results. Plus, he's a zone-blocking guy and the ZBS is apparently on the way out.