The Las Vegas Raiders have some tough decisions to make this offseason and it appears they’ve just made one of the toughest. According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, the team has informed starting right guard Gabe Jackson that they plan to release him.
Jackson was one of the longest-tenured players on the Raiders. He joined the team as a third-round pick in 2014. He quickly became a starter as a rookie and held that position for seven seasons. He was rewarded with a massive six-year contract in 2017, just a season before Jon Gruden took over the team.
Jackson was able to stick around and he’s been one of the team’s best offensive linemen. There was talk of him being available in a trade last season but the Raiders decided to stick with him. With the team up against the cap, they simply couldn’t afford Jackson for another year. The team will save over $9 million in cap space by letting him go. While it makes financial sense to let the veteran offensive lineman go, the team now has a hole in its offensive line.
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How Will Raiders Replace Jackson?
Cutting Jackson is a significant decision. He’s been one of the Raiders’ most consistent and best offensive linemen for seven years. Without him, the team now has a need at right guard.
There will be a couple of simple options for the Raiders. They could re-sign Denzelle Good to a much smaller deal than they gave Jackson. Good played at both right tackle for Trent Brown and left guard for Richie Incognito when they were injured during the 2020 season. Good started in four of five games while Jackson was out at the beginning of the 2019 season after sustaining a left knee injury in a joint training camp practice with the Los Angeles Rams in August 2019, as according to RaidersWire. The Raiders won three of the four games in which Good played. He also filled in for Jackson for the final three games of 2018 after Jackson fractured his elbow in Week 14 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, as NBC Sports reported. The Raiders went 1-2 in those games.
The team loves Good’s versatility and ability to stay healthy. He’s not elite but he’d be a solid replacement for Jackson.
The Raiders could give the job to John Simpson. The former Clemson Tiger was a fourth-round pick by the team last year. He had a few chances to play as a rookie and looked good at times. He definitely still has work to do but could be the long-term replacement for Jackson. It’s hard to see the Raiders spending big to find a new right guard considering they’re trying to create cap space.
Raiders Have More Decisions on the Offensive Line
Jackson is the first domino to fall but it’s possible the Raiders’ offensive line could look really different in 2021. Left tackle Kolton Miller and center Rodney Hudson are the only two players who will certainly return. Right tackle Trent Brown and left guard Richie Incognito could get shown the door.
It’s possible that Brown, Jackson and Incognito could all be off the roster in 2021, but it’s unlikely the Raiders move on from all three. With Jackson cut, Incognito will probably be safe. Gruden is a big fan and The Athletic reported that Incognito is ready to play this upcoming season. Brown is the biggest wild card of the offseason. When healthy, he’s elite. However, he hasn’t been healthy for a whole season since joining the Raiders. There’s a strong chance he’s on a different roster when the season starts.