As the Las Vegas Raiders chug along in training camp, a lot of eyes are on the offensive line. The team is mostly bringing back the same group that struggled last season. One key player who was expected to return was offensive guard Denzelle Good, who missed all of 2021 after tearing his ACL in Week 1.
He recovered in time for camp and was expected to be one of the starting guards, but now the Raiders won’t be able to rely on him because they’ve placed him on the Reserve/Retired List. ESPN reported July 25 that Good has retired from the league.
This move comes out of nowhere given that Good, 31, appeared to be recovering well from his injury and that he likely would’ve started at right guard. It remains to be seen what drove Good’s decision to retire.
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Good Recently Took Pay Cut
Good’s retirement also came as a surprise because he had restructured his contract in the previous week. According to a July 21 tweet from ESPN’s Field Yates, Good agreed to a restructure that took his base salary from $3.09 million this season to $1.035 million. He had signed a two-year deal worth $8.36 million in 2021 after playing for the Raiders in 2019 and 2020 on separate one-year contracts.
Prior to joining the Raiders on December 3, 2018, he spent almost all of the first four years of his career with the Indianapolis Colts, who waived him two days before the Raiders picked him up. He appeared in only 26 games for the Colts, starting 20 of them. In his first year with the Raiders, he appeared in every game and started in five of them. He became a full-time starter in 2020, playing 95% of the team’s offensive snaps in the 15 games in which he appeared. He also played 17% of the Raiders’ special teams snaps.
Who Will Replace Good?
With Richie Incognito retiring on July 15, Good became the second expected starter at guard from last season to retire. It’s a position that the Raiders have had a hard time finding long-term solutions for. However, there are some options already on the roster who could replace Good.
Lester Cotton, who was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2019, has received praise from players and coaches this offseason. According to Tashan Reed of The Athletic, he’s been seen taking a lot of snaps at right guard in several combinations with other linemen on the roster.
“With that entire group, there’s really no player out there that is lining up beside the same guy or two on every snap, and that’s by design,” said head coach Josh McDaniels, according to Reed’s July 24 story. “Each of our periods is kind of scripted that way where they’re forced to communicate with more people. There’s somebody on the right (and) somebody new on the left. Because it’s not a physical or contact portion of our year, really for them it’s about communication and trusting the guys beside you and knowing what their words mean to you.”
Rookie third-round pick Dylan Parham could be an option, but the Raiders don’t seem to know where to put him quite yet. He could be eyed as a center if Andre James doesn’t improve his play. The team could also decide that 2021 first-round pick Alex Leatherwood isn’t suited to play at right tackle so they stick him at right guard. Las Vegas could also look to free agency, but there aren’t many great options this late into the offseason. Kyle Long, son of Raiders Hall of Famer Howie Long, is available. He didn’t play a snap last season due to injury but could be a great story due to his ties to the team.