With the offseason moves, draft picks and Undrafted free agents there are a few guys from last years team that should feel very little job security right about now. This would be known as the proverbial “Hot Seat”. This team is going through a bit of a makeover and with the new arrivals, there will be some casualties. Here are a few of those players of whom must really have a break out preseason or they could be looking for other options in the not so distant future.
QB Andrew Walter
This could be a blessing for him actually. It has been said many times that he has been in a straight jacket on the Raiders bench after a once promising career. This would be a welcome departure for Walter and the Raiders. I believe the only QB other than Jrock that will make this team out of the current roster will be Erik Meyer. I am quite impressed with him despite his lack of NFL experience. The backup QB has yet to be signed and will likely come from the first line of preseason cuts. Trent Dilfer is a distinct possibility although I would like to see Tim Rattay signed personally. Then there is the slew of cuts that Tampa will have to make. Chris Simms could be out there to be had if Al is so inclined.
WR Jonnie Lee Higgins
It would be an understatement to say he was less than impressive last season. He was drafted to fill the kick and/or punt return duties as well as bolster the receiver corp. Well he couldn’t make an impact on a team desperate for receivers and was a non-factor in his return duties to say the least. The acquisitions of DeAngelo Hall and drafting of Tyvon Branch spell the end of his return duties and the acquisitions of Javon Walker and Drew Carter make it increasingly difficult for him to make the team as a receiver. Other receivers such as Todd Watkins and Chris McFoy seem to be coming on strong as well. At this point, he is pretty much expendable unless he has improved by leaps and bounds and really wows the coaching staff in training camp.
C Jake Grove
You know that Kiffin is not high on Grove when he spends two straight offseasons looking for another option at center. ANY other option. They may have found their guy in John Wade. Chris Morris has the Long Snapper job. Grove has played some Guard though so if he can be somewhat of a utility guy, that could be useful, otherwise he will be gone.
RT Cornell Green
Yes I realize they just re-signed him but how many times have they re-signed Duane Starks only to subsequently cut him? Green was serviceable last year prior to his injury. He is on the hot seat mainly because he got injured and Paul McQuistan played well enough to take his job from him. And even if McQuistan isn’t the starter, Mario Henderson is primed to be the next option at either Tackle spot. Which Olineman makes this team will depend on how quickly he can learn Cable’s system and McQuistan and Henderson have had more time to work in it.
DT Terdell Sands
Yeah, he signed that big contract last year and then proceeded to earn the nickname “Turd”. With this team needing to get under the cap, he could be the most likely cut between he, Gerard Warren and William Joseph. Of course the William Joseph experiment could just as easily not pan out at which point Joseph will be cut and Sands will get a roster spot by default.
LB Sam Williams
He has been kickin around on the Raiders roster for a few years now and has never shown anything but flashes of athletic ability. That is, between his many lengthy stints on the IR. He got beat out by journeyman Robert Thomas for God’s sake. I can’t remember the last time this team had a good Strongside Linebacker and that could be simply because they keep holding out hope that Sam Williams will recover from his latest injury and become the kind of player that got him drafting as a 1st rounder. They signed Ed Hartwell to supplant him and if Hartwell is back to the player he was before he had the injury that kept him out of football for 2 years then Kiffin will be more than happy to give him the job and send Sam Williams packing.
There is no denying these players have underachieved and as they have said for those who underperform: NFL stands for “Not For Long”. Kiffin has also proven that he is not afraid to get rid of a player regardless of previous success, potential, or what may have been given up to get them (see Mike Williams). There is no room for that on a team that needs to win now and spent a lot of money to make sure that happens. It is actually a pleasant surprise that so many jobs are safe considering the five year run of no more than 5 wins in a season. Most teams would go through an even greater overhaul. It is obvious what this team needs to be successful which is also unlike a losing team. Many losing teams (Dolphins) have very few things that actually DID work and don’t need to be replaced. So think of these cuts as addition by subtraction.