Carl Nassib made history with the Las Vegas Raiders last year when he became the first openly gay player to take a snap in the NFL. The team quickly embraced him despite the groundbreaking news and he quickly became an icon. The Raiders even recently donated $100,000 to The Trevor Project, which is Nassib’s charity of choice and the largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth.
Though Nassib became one of the team’s most popular players last season, his play on the field didn’t warrant the $8.4 million they were paying him a year. With free agency underway, the Raiders decided to release the veteran defensive end as a post-June 1 designation, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
As Schefter noted, the Raiders now save $8 million in salary-cap space. However, that money won’t be available to play with until after June 1. Nassib will be able to sign with any team immediately. It’s been a slow start to free agency for the Raiders but they now have a lot of cap space to work with.
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Nassib Could Never Catch on With Raiders
Though it would’ve been the subject of controversy in the past, the Raiders always did what they could to support Nassib after he came out as gay. Unfortunately, he just could never break through with the team. Prior to coming to Las Vegas, Nassib was a productive pass rusher for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Raiders decided to give him a three-year contract worth $25 million in 2020 to help bolster their lackluster pass rush.
Nassib only mustered 4.0 sacks in two seasons with the team. He was never a distraction and his teammates widely respected him but he just wasn’t productive enough on the field. With so many needs on the defense, the Raiders had no choice but to move on from his contract. Nassib could still be a productive player on the right defense and should get swooped up by another team before the next season starts.
Raiders Have Money to Play With
The Raiders have yet to make any splash signings but they continue to create cap space. They wouldn’t be taken on so much dead money for Cory Littleton’s and Nassib’s contracts if they weren’t planning something. That said, it’s impossible to know right now what’s going on behind the scenes. The Raiders haven’t been linked to many big-name players quite yet but they have to be working on something.
There’s an arms race in the AFC West and the Raiders are the only team in the division to not make a big move. There are still big names in free agency but Las Vegas could also be looking at the trade market. Plus, quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow need contract extensions. Perhaps the Raiders are just making room to pay those two and there’s no blockbuster deal coming. Regardless, something is brewing in Las Vegas and it will become apparent at some point.