On the down side, the Raiders have no hopes in 2018, have traded or released numerous starters who were expected to be big parts of the team – Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper and Bruce Irvin being the headliners – and the remaining players may have quit on head coach Jon Gruden.
On the up side, the Raiders sure do have a lot of salary-cap space for 2019.
Irvin, the latest casualty, has been released by the team. The franchise will eat his $8.25 million deal for 2018 but has ejected his $9 million from the 2019 salary equation. With Irvin off the books, the Raiders are estimated right now to have more than $83 million available under the salary cap for next season (though the team can certainly get rid of some other contracts to boost that number further.)
Plus, the Raiders will have three first-round picks in next year’s draft and two more first-rounders in 2020. So, theoretically, the franchise could be poised to get a big dose of new talent through the draft and free agency over the next two years.
Of course, that won’t help the Raiders this Sunday when they host the Los Angeles Chargers.
Irvin went into this season excited about switching from outside linebacker to defensive end. Paired with Mack on the other side, Irvin was thought to be one of the big pluses for the defense. He had eight sacks in 2017 and new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther believed Irvin could get more in 2018.
“Obviously, we know what he can do as a pass rusher,” Guenther said before this season. “Hopefully we can get him over a double-digit (sack) mark this year. That’s the goal for him.”
But as the season progressed, Irvin’s playing time regressed. Lately, he’s been just a situational player – yet still led the team with a paltry three sacks. The Raiders have had just seven sacks as a team, the lowest total in the NFL.
The 1-7 Raiders will take on the 6-2 Chargers Sunday in Oakland with kickoff set for 1:05 p.m.