Raiders Cut Former 1st-Round Pick After Failing to Find Trade Partner

josh mcdaniels dave ziegler

Getty Josh McDaniels with Dave Ziegler.

The last several years have been replete with questionable draft picks made by the Las Vegas Raiders. The team has already moved on from recent first-round picks Alex Leatherwood, Damon Arnette and Henry Ruggs. Another one is set to join them as first-rounders who didn’t finish out their rookie contract with the Raiders.

According to NFL Network’s Tom Peliseero, Las Vegas is releasing safety Johnathan Abram.

It’s a surprise that the Raiders decided to cut him now but not a surprise he didn’t have a future with the team as he was shopped at the trade deadline, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Abram has seen his snaps drastically reduced in recent weeks. Through the first six games, he played at least 75% of their defensive snaps. Over the last two games, he’s dropped to under 50% of snaps. The coaching staff clearly lost confidence in him and favored playing Duron Harmon. Abram was one of three first-round picks the Raiders made in the 2019 draft. He’s a big hitter and hard worker but could never figure out his issues in coverage. He became a major liability in most games and it was highly unlikely the team would’ve re-signed him after the season.

Another Draft Bust

The Raiders cannot draft defensive backs. Since 2000, the team has drafted 10 defensive backs in the first round. Nnamdi Asomugha was the only one to make a Pro Bowl in his career while almost all of them were outright busts. Al Davis couldn’t draft defensive backs, Reggie McKenzie couldn’t draft defensive backs and neither could Mike Mayock. It remains to be seen if Dave Ziegler can as he hasn’t had a first-round pick as the Raiders’ general manager.

The team hasn’t had much success since 2002 and a large reason for that has been due to subpar drafting. Abram now joins a long list of recent Raiders first-round picks who never got a second contract with the team. Fellow 2019 first-rounders Josh Jacobs and Clelin Ferrell are still with the team but this could be their last season in Las Vegas.

Cutting Abram Doesn’t Fix Raiders

Cutting Abram doesn’t save the Raiders much money as he had a $2.9 million dead cap hit this season. He’s also far from the team’s biggest problem on defense. He was one of the worst coverage safeties in the NFL but he played with fire and passion. That’s something this Raiders team hasn’t played with all season.

Sending Abram to free agency isn’t going to solve the team’s problems. 2021 second-round pick Tre’von Moehrig has had a horrific second season after a solid rookie campaign. He’s the fourth-worst safety in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. Harmon has been very good but he’s 31 and can’t play both safety spots. There’s also the fact that the Raiders’ cornerbacks are a mess right now. It doesn’t make a ton of sense to let go of Abram right now but the team has to at least try something. The Raiders’ defense is a sinking ship and there isn’t a savior coming this season. The focus of the offseason has to surround fixing this defense or the team will have another disappointing year.

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