Raiders Surprisingly Cut Expected Starter at Linebacker

mike mayock, jon gruden, derek carr

Getty Jon Gruden, Mike Mayock and Derek Carr of the Las Vegas Raiders.

In a very surprising move, the Oakland Raiders have decided to part ways with veteran linebacker Brandon Marshall, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The former Denver Bronco has a lot of experience and was expected to start for the silver and black. He battled an injury during OTAs and that could be a reason why the team moved on, but there was no indication that he had fallen out of favor.

It’s made even more surprising considering that the Raiders didn’t play Marshall in the final preseason game and give him one last chance. He was supposed to be part of a revamped linebacking corps with Tahir Whitehead and Vontaze Burfict. He has loads of experience as a starter in a top defense, so this move is very confusing. He must’ve done something to lose favor with the coaching staff. Either that, or he was just outplayed by one of the expected backups. Marshall reacted to the decision on Twitter.

“I thank Oakland for the Opportunity! Unfortunately I had to use training camp to work myself back to full health, and I did just that! Ready for what God has for me next,” Tweeted Marshall.

Seems like health could be playing a big part as to why Marshall didn’t make the cut. He’s had an injury history in the past and the Raiders may not have wanted to deal with. He was the second-leading tackler on the 2015 Super Bowl Champion Broncos team and was a pretty consistent player when he was healthy. He’ll probably have a chance to play elsewhere relatively quickly.

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Who’s Going to Take Marshall’s Spot?

What’s interesting is that Marshall was slated to start on the team’s first unofficial depth chart. He must’ve been beaten out over the last few weeks. The linebacker that was slated to play behind him was Nicholas Morrow. By most accounts, it seems like he’s the one who beat out Marshall.

“Morrow, to me, has stood out,” said Gruden during training camp. “Morrow is really playing well. He’s finding the ball and he is fast and I’m really impressed with Nick.”

Morrow has been with the Raiders since 2017 and has started 10 games. He’s accumulated 100 combined tackles over those two years. What’s surprising about the team’s decision to go with Morrow over Marshall (if that is the case) is that now the linebacking corps looks pretty similar to how it did last season. Vontaze Burfict would be the only new starter. While the Burfict addition should help things, the Raiders were really bad at linebacker in 2018. Rolling out with essentially the same unit is concerning. It’s possible that Morrow has improved greatly. He’s a young player, so he’s still developing. However, this will have to be a position group to watch in the early parts of the season.

Overall, the unit should be slightly improved. It’s unfortunate that the Marshall acquisition didn’t work out, but maybe Morrow will be up to the task.

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