Less than two years after his passing, Al Davis would hardly recognize the Raiders.
They still have the same colors and logo, but the organization has more new faces than old.
Hue Jackson, Shane Lechler, Michael Huff, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Richard Seymour are all gone, as are Brandon Myers, Desmond Bryant, Kamerion Wimbley and Mike Mitchell.
Now, with the release of defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, the Raiders have just 18 players on their roster who were with the Raiders during Davis’ tenure, reports Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Kelly’s release had been expected, and frees up another large chunk of salary. Kelly, 32, was due to make $6.5 million in 2013 and $7 million in 2014, Tafur reported.
Kelly played nine seasons for the Raiders after being signed out of Mississippi State, appearing in 129 games. He had 34 sacks and was in on 419 tackles. In 2011 and 2010 he had his best years as a pass rusher, totaling 14.5 sacks.
But Kelly’s salary is out of line with GM Reggie McKenzie’s plans for restructuring the roster, and becomes the latest productive player to go. Kelly had been given a seven-year, $50.5-million deal in 2008 by Davis.
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski (2000), long snapper Jon Condo (2007) and running back Darren McFadden and safety Tyvon Branch (both 2008) are now the players who have been with the team the longest.
With the departure of Kelly, Seymour and Bryant, defensive end Lamarr Houston is the only remaining starter on the defensive line from last season.
The Raiders may use their first-round pick in the draft – No. 3 overall – to take a defensive lineman, and also have signed free agent defensive linemen Jason Hunter, Vance Walker and Pat Sims.
“There was little chance Kelly fit with the new approach of the team,” wrote AFC West blogger Bill Williamson of ESPN. “The Raiders are getting younger and cheaper throughout the roster.”