Reggie McKenzie has made a series of smart moves over the past few seasons to rebuild the Raiders into a winner.
But even McKenzie doesn’t score with every move.
On Tuesday, the Raiders released defensive tackle Dan Williams, the former Arizona Cardinals standout who signed as a free agent with the team in 2015 in a deal worth $25 million over four seasons, including $15.2 million guaranteed.
Williams, however, didn’t live up to expectations in Oakland, even though he started 26 games in 2015 and 2016. Last season, Williams was in on just 17 tackles with one-half of a sack after reporting to training camp out of shape. He never quite regained the form he showed the year before when he was in on 46 tackles with a sack.
Plus, Williams didn’t provide the inside force the Raiders were looking for defensively. Oakland in both 2015 and 2016 had trouble stopping opposing running games.
The move to cut ties with Williams, 29, saves the Raiders $4.5 million in salary cap space for 2017, reported Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com, along with $5 million in 2018. That money is a key for McKenzie, who needs to find the money this offseason to sign quarterback Derek Carr, defensive end Khalil Mack and guard Gabe Jackson to more expensive long-term deals. The Raiders may also need more available funds to sign Marshawn Lynch, the running back who retired from the Seahawks after the 2015 season.
The Raiders are now without Williams and Stacy McGee (who left in free agency) at defensive tackle and are looking for help at the position as they enter the NFL Draft that begins with the first round April 27. Many NFL analysts predict the Raiders will use their top pick, No. 24 overall, on a defensive tackle.
Though Williams was a disappointment on the field this past season, he was a success out of uniform. The Raiders nominated Williams as the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year candidate for his work in the community. Williams has worked for the American Diabetes Association, counseled young students about nutrition, teamwork and leadership and worked for a number of other causes in the Bay Area and in Tennessee.