A surprise pick at the time, Leatherwood did not do much to impress either of the two Raiders regimes to come through during his time in Las Vegas. The Dave Ziegler–Josh McDaniels regime will cut bait despite three seasons remaining on his rookie contract.
That contract will now turn into a big dead-money hit for the Raiders. By cutting Leatherwood before his second season, the Raiders will be tagged with more than $11MM in dead cap. While that can be spread through 2023, with $7.9MM staying on Vegas’ payroll this year, the defrayed signing bonus hits will lead to one of the bigger dead-cap hits on a rookie contract in recent memory. But the Raiders could not find a place for Leatherwood, after trying him at both tackle and guard.
All options were believed to be on the table with Leatherwood, whom the team attempted to trade. His 2021 performance, contract and perception as a first-round reach certainly impacted those efforts.
The Raiders quickly moved Leatherwood to right guard last season, and Pro Football Focus viewed the Alabama product as one of the league’s worst guard regulars. A move back to tackle did not take. Even after Brandon Parker was lost for the season in training camp, Leatherwood could not seize the gig.
Las Vegas’ O-line plan as a whole has been unusual throughout this offseason. With the exception of left tackle Kolton Miller, the Raiders bring question marks at their other spots. Although Andre James is fairly established at center, though his extension was authorized by the Jon Gruden regime, the team has glaring issues on the right side of its O-line. Ex-Patriot spot starter Jermaine Eluemunor has been a big factor at right tackle, while Lester Cotton — a UDFA who has played in five career games and never started any — has worked as the team’s starting right guard. The Raiders seem primed to scour the waiver wire in the coming hours.
Leatherwood’s departure obviously also shifts the spotlight back to the Gruden-Mike Mayock drafts. Leatherwood and 2020 first-round picks Henry Ruggs and Damon Arnette are gone. Clelin Ferrell has long been shifted to a backup role, and his status with the Raiders is tenuous. The new Raiders front office also did not pick up the fifth-year options on fellow 2019 first-rounders Josh Jacobs and Johnathan Abram. After the team traded Reggie McKenzie-era first-rounders Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper and accumulated first-round capital, there is little to show for those moves.