What a quick fall from grace for Alex Leatherwood. The 2021 first-round pick of the Las Vegas Raiders was a starter at Alabama and won two National Championships. He was also the winner of the Outland Trophy in 2020, which is awarded to the best interior offensive lineman in college football. That success did not translate to the NFL.
The Raiders gave him a chance to earn the starting right tackle spot this offseason but he never seized the opportunity. There’s been chatter that the team was trying to trade him but couldn’t find a suitor. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Las Vegas has decided to simply waive Leatherwood.
With Leatherwood gone, none of Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock’s first-round picks from 2020 and 2021 are no longer with the team. While the writing was on the wall for the offensive lineman, it’s still a surprise that they decided to simply waive him. They will now eat $7.9 million in dead cap this year.
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Raiders Tried to Trade Leatherwood to Every Team
The Raiders didn’t want to release Leatherwood. He’s only one season in and they’re going to be stuck paying him for the next three years. They tried everything they could to trade him away. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Raiders reached out to every team in the NFL searching for a trade partner.
Las Vegas likely would’ve taken anything to get off Leatherwood. It’s damning that not a single team would give up even the weakest of assets to add a former first-round pick. This is very bad news for Leatherwood as opinions of him are as low as they can be around the NFL. Luckily, the Raiders have new people making the draft decisions going forward.
Why Wouldn’t the Raiders Just Keep Him?
Cutting Leatherwood outright makes very little sense. They still have to pay him and he’s only in his second year. Obviously, it’s better to keep roster spots open for players who deserve it but it’s odd that the new regime never even tried him out at guard. Leatherwood was moved to guard last season and did play better. Perhaps a whole year of guard under his belt would’ve led to more success. Considering how much the Raiders are still paying him, it’s unclear why they wouldn’t even try.
It’s possible that there was more going on behind the scenes with Leatherwood and the team just wanted him out of the building. They could’ve just thought that he was truly too bad at football to keep on the roster. Regardless, it’s never great when a team has to cut a first-round pick after just one season. Leatherwood will land on another team at some point and try to salvage his career. Not having the pressure of being a first-round pick could actually be what’s best for him.
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We already knew he sucked, that gives McDummy zero excuses as to why he ignored the bottom 5 o line. Now all we can get is cut players.