Raiders Rookie Abruptly Retires Before Playing Game

Malkelm Morrison

Getty Former Army CB Malkelm Morrison (left).

After an exciting offseason, the Las Vegas Raiders started organized team activities this week. With so many moving roster parts and a new coaching staff, this year’s OTAs seem to have extra importance.

One of the moving parts was the unexpected retirement of rookie cornerback Malkelm Morrison, one of the players who was an undrafted free agent. The team announced on May 23 that they’d placed Morrison on the Reserve/Retired list. Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson first announced the news via Twitter.

Morrison, who played three years at Army, went undrafted, but the Raiders signed him to compete for a roster spot. It’s unclear why he decided to retire from the NFL before even taking a shot at finding a place in the Raiders organization. At 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, he appeared to have the athleticism to find a roster spot in the NFL, but he was generally projected to go undrafted.

According to the NFL’s roster rules, the Raiders will retain the rights to Morrison’s contract if he decides to try playing football again.

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What to Look For at OTAs

With OTAs underway, fans can start to learn a lot more about the Raiders in the coming weeks. Everybody knows that when the 2022 season starts, Derek Carr will be the starting quarterback, Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby will be the defensive ends and Hunter Renfrow and Davante Adams will be the top receivers.

But there are other interesting storylines to watch, and perhaps the most interesting is seeing how the offensive line will shape up.

The only guarantee is that Kolton Miller will be the starting left tackle. But every other position on the line seems to be up for grabs.

For example, there’s Alex Leatherwood, the Raiders’ first-round pick in 2021. He might be the most interesting player to watch. Drafted as a right tackle but then moved to guard by the team’s previous regime, Leatherwood “holds the key” to the Raiders’ season, according to a Football Outsiders analysis.

Then there’s center Andre James, who is entering his fourth season with the Raiders. He  started all 17 games last season, but the Raiders drafted a guard, Dylan Parham, in the third round, with some scouts believing Parham could compete for the center job.

Raiders Ranked 13th in NFL Power Rankings

Projections surrounding the Raiders are as high as they’ve been in years. The team has made bold roster moves, starting with hiring Josh McDaniels as head coach. There are still a lot of unknowns with the team, but there is some belief they could have a Super Bowl-level ceiling. However, they’re going to have to prove it on the field before people start fully buying into them.

NBC Sports’ Peter King recently ranked the Raiders as the 13th best team in the NFL.

“Nice quiet offseason for the Raiders,” King wrote. “New GM, new coach, new offensive superstar, new pass-rush superstar. Dave Ziegler, Josh McDaniels, Davante Adams, Chandler Jones: The spotlight is on all of you, right now.

“Adams has 432 catches and 47 TDs in his last four seasons playing with Aaron Rodgers; Jones had 59.5 sacks in his last four full seasons in Arizona. Those are huge adds. A defense with Maxx Crosby and Jones rushing the passer is almost as threatening as Darren Waller and Adams challenging defenses from day one.”

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