Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock has had the toughest job in the NFL over the last several weeks as the team handles the resignation of Jon Gruden and the release of wide receiver Henry Ruggs. The drama hasn’t stopped for the team as cornerback Damon Arnette was recently caught waving a gun and threatening to kill somebody in a leaked video of his Instagram direct messages. Despite his status as a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Raiders decided to cut him.
Arnette now joins a long list of bad Raider draft picks since Mayock was hired by the team. After the news broke that the team was letting go of the cornerback, Mayock decided to speak to the media about the decision.
“Today we waived Damon Arnette,” Mayock told reporters on November 8. “Very painful decision. We spent significant time, effort, and resources trying to help him in all facets of his life. There have been a series of bad decisions over the last year or so, but we can’t stand, we can not stand the video of Damon with a gun threatening to take a life. The content was unacceptable, contrary to our values, and our owner Mark Davis has been very clear and very consistent that this is not how we will conduct ourselves in this community. The bottom line; the Raiders will not tolerate this type of behavior.
“On a personal note, I’ve talked to Damon, his dad, a couple of others in his life. From my perspective, he’s a very talented young man with a good heart. [If] he cleans up his life, I know he can make a living in the NFL. But not now with the Raiders.”
Las Vegas was high on Arnette when he was coming into the NFL but he never showed them much on the field. The fact that he was starting to cause issues off the field made the decision to let him go a lot easier.
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Mayock Admits There Was Concern on Arnette Before Draft
The Raiders have been cautious in their draft approach in recent years due to the fact that play in Las Vegas. The city offers more temptations for young players than most cities where NFL teams play. Mayock admitted that there were character concerns regarding Arnette when he was heading into the league but that didn’t stop the Raiders from drafting him.
“Yeah, there was significant concern. And most of the teams around the league were very aware of it,” Mayock said. “We spent an awful lot of time trying to understand his behavior. And really what kind of tilted everything in the direction of ‘ok, let’s go ahead and draft him’ was that we knew that coaching staff pretty well, we knew what they had asked him to do his last year at Ohio State, they felt very strongly that they knew who we had on our staff and that we’d be able to work with this young man. And not only help him on the football field but help him in his life. Obviously, in hindsight, we weren’t able to do it. I know a lot of people, including myself, we were all concerned about this. But we at the time thought it was an acceptable risk. But obviously, it’s painful on all levels.”
Mayock then decided to make a blunt admission about the pick.
“We found the risk acceptable after doing more homework on Arnette than anybody we’ve done in the years I’ve been here,” Mayock added. “And obviously we missed. And that is 100% on me.”
There weren’t many analysts or teams that saw Arnette as a first-round pick when the Raiders drafted him. The fact that he had character concerns that the team was aware of makes the pick even worse in hindsight.
Arnette Loss Doesn’t Hurt Raiders in Short Term
Arnette will go down as one of the worst first-round draft picks the Raiders have made. He was cut in less than two full seasons with the team. The off the field issues were enough for him to lose his job but his play may have led to him losing his job eventually.
This offseason, Arnette lost his starting job to Casey Hayward and Trayvon Mullen. He had chances to play through the team’s first four games this season and was bad when he was on the field. In fact, he went viral for his poor play against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 4. He was put on the Injured Reserve with a groin injury and was still on it when the Raiders sent him to waivers. He may still have a career in the NFL but it’s going to be a long road for the former Ohio State Buckeye. He did not show much promise during his brief stint with the Raiders.