This offseason, the Las Vegas Raiders have added a lot of players to the defensive line. Naturally, that means they’d eventually have to make some tough cuts. It looks like they’re getting off to an early start.
The team announced on Thursday that they’ve decided to waive Arden Key and Maurice Hurst. This is a bit of a surprise as both were drafted by the team in 2018 and are homegrown talent. Key has struggled since joining the team and only three sacks in three seasons. It’s not too much of a surprise the Raiders are moving on from him considering his egregious facemask penalty against the Miami Dolphins late last season cost the team a game they should’ve won.
It is quite surprising that they’ve decided to move on from Hurst. He’s actually been one of their best defensive players over the years. He had 7.5 sacks in his first two seasons but had a down year in 2020 with only 0.5. However, he was one of the best interior pass rushers for the team and it’s hard to understand why they would cut him.
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Key Used to Have a Bright NFL Future
Key has actually had a very interesting trajectory. At one point, he was considered one of the top draft prospects in the world. Back in 2017, CBS Sports ranked him as the fourth-best player heading into the 2018 draft. Unfortunately, his last year in college was marred by injuries and he ended up falling to the Raiders in the third round.
There was still some hope he could develop into an impact player. He notched 11 sacks during his sophomore year in college and looked like he could develop into a solid pass rusher. Key was never able to figure things out with the Raiders. He tried putting on weight, but that didn’t work. He went back down to his normal weight and had an excellent training camp, but still didn’t have success on the field. He also had three different defensive line coaches to work with and that didn’t help. He’s better off getting a fresh start with a team that has a bit more talent on the defensive line.
Cutting Hurst Is a Huge Mistake
The Raiders have made some questionable moves this offseason but cutting Hurst is probably the worst one yet. He put up a 77.9 grade on Pro Football Focus in 2020, which was significantly better than what Maliek Collins put up, who started most of the year.
For some reason, the Raiders never seemed to wrap their arms around Hurst. Despite consistently being the team’s best pass-rushing defensive tackle, they rarely would list him as a starter. Now that he’s been waived, it’s clear that they were never sold on him. The Raiders have been terrible at evaluating talent over the years and this move already looks like a big mistake. Hurst looked like one of the few good draft picks Jon Gruden has made. This could come back to bite Las Vegas in the near future.