Based on Thursday night’s performance against the Los Angeles Rams, it’s clear that the Las Vegas Raiders need some big changes to happen. The offensive line has been a pleasant surprise this season but it’s still not an elite unit. The group didn’t give up a single sack in Week 14 but they weren’t able to open up many holes for running back Josh Jacobs to run through.
Part of that was due to starting guard Alex Bars leaving the game early due to injury. The Raiders had to insert John Simpson to replace him and the coaching staff must have not liked what they saw. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Las Vegas has decided to cut Simpson.
The former Clemson standout was a fourth-round pick in the 2020 class. He started 17 games for the Raiders last season and opened this year as a starter before losing his job following the Week 2 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. He had only been playing special teams snaps since Week 2 before replacing Bars against the Rams. The Raiders had hoped that Simpson could be a long-term starter at guard but he just never developed into one. He’s got experience so there’s a good chance a team will try to add him through waivers or free agency.
Could Simpson Return on Practice Squad?
Simpson is the latest player to get cut from the Raiders’ horrific 2020 draft class that Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock put together. Fifth-round pick Amik Robertson is the lone player who remains with the team. The coaching staff appears to like him so he shouldn’t be going anywhere quite yet. He would have to develop into a generational superstar for the Raiders to salvage the draft class but that’s not going to happen.
Though Simpson hasn’t played well this season, he’s been with the team and has experience. He does have value. If he clears waivers, the Raiders should consider bringing him back on the practice squad. Lester Cotton is already on Injured Reserve and Bars is banged up. The injury must not be too serious if the team is cutting the only other guard on the roster besides Dylan Parham, who is already manning one of the starting guard spots. Jermaine Eluemunor can play guard but he’s starting to play well at right tackle. It wouldn’t make sense to slide him inside right now. The Raiders likely have an idea of what they’ll do if Bars has to miss time but it should involve trying to get Simpson on the practice squad.
Will Raiders Bring Back Key Players From Injury?
When the Raiders were on their three-game winning streak, it seemed like a certainty that Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow and Divine Deablo would be coming back from Injured Reserve for a late-season playoff push. With the embarrassing loss to the Rams, any dream of the playoffs this season is essentially dead.
That could factor into the decision-making regarding whether or not the team wants to bring back injured players. Waller says he’s healthy now and Renfrow should be ready to go. If they don’t play against the New England Patriots in Week 15, that could mean they won’t be returning this season.