The Raiders have made their slew of cuts. They placed defensive tackle Justin Ellis on injured reserve, meaning he’ll miss the entire season. After starting 14 games in 2017, Oakland signed Ellis to a three-year, $15MM extension. Injuries limited him to just six games last season, so he’ll have barely played through the first two years of that extension.
Former Rams defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks also got the boot. He started nine games for Los Angeles in 2017 and racked up four sacks. Last year he had a smaller role, although he did appear in all 16 games for the Rams. ‘Hard Knocks’ star Keelan Doss unfortunately failed to make the roster. He’s an undrafted rookie receiver from UC Davis. Additionally Keith Smith, who served as the team’s fullback last season, was released.
The Raiders will be without their longest-tenured offensive lineman for around two months. They appear set to look at outside options in the interim.
Gabe Jackson‘s knee injury will mean Oakland goes into this season without either of the guard starters it deployed primarily for the past three seasons, with the team having already traded Kelechi Osemele to New York in March. Already set to be without Richie Incognito for two weeks because of a suspension, the Raiders are expected to explore the guard trade market, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweets.
Incognito arrived shortly after the draft, with Jon Gruden advocating for another guard to replace Osemele instead of the team’s in-house options. At right guard presently, depth signing Jordan Devey will receive the first shot at replacing Jackson, Gruden said (via Gehlken, on Twitter). Devey has started just four games over the past three seasons, each coming as a member of the Chiefs.
Fourth-year UDFA Denver Kirkland is also in that mix; Denzelle Good remains on the team’s active/PUP list. Jackson hurt his knee during practice this week. The Raiders have more than $18MM in cap space, but with Jackson and Incognito potentially set to debut together by October, it would be interesting to see them give up too much to acquire a stopgap guard.
Still attached to the $10MM-AAV deal he signed in 2017, Jackson has started 72 games for the Raiders since arriving as a 2014 third-round pick. He finished last season on IR and would be a candidate for an IR-return player to start this season, but that would only be the case if the Raiders believed his timetable would involve a return closer to November rather than October.
Justin Ellis played in just one game this season before being placed on IR. He will return, however, for the final games of Jon Gruden‘s first year back.
The Raiders activated Ellis from IR on Saturday, and the fifth-year defensive tackle will be in line to play Sunday against the Chiefs. Oakland waived offensive lineman Denver Kirkland to clear a roster spot.
Re-signed this offseason, Ellis is one of the few Reggie McKenzie draft picks still around in Oakland. The 2014 fourth-round selection has started for most of his career, producing his best season in 2017 — 48 tackles, a half-sack. He’s signed through the 2020 season.
Kirkland played in six games for the Raiders in 2016 and ’18. He served as an extra offensive lineman in power sets during Oakland’s 12-4 2016 campaign but has only made one regular-season appearance since.
Obi Melifonwu‘s tenure with the Raiders has come to an end. ESPN’s Field Yates reports (via Twitter) that the organization has waived the defensive back off of the injured reserve. The team has also promoted wideout Marcell Ateman and offensive lineman Denver Kirkland from the practice squad (via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Twitter).
Melifonwu was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft following a standout career at Connecticut. The 24-year-old safety played sparingly during his rookie campaign, compiling seven tackles in five games (one start). Melifonwu was placed on the IR twice during his first season, and he was waived/injured by the Raiders back in August. After clearing waivers, he landed on the team’s injured reserve.
Ateman was a seventh-round pick by the organization in this past year’s draft. The Oklahoma State product was waived at the end of the preseason, and he subsequently caught on with the team’s practice squad. Kirkland has been with the organization for several seasons after going undrafted out of Arkansas during the 2016 draft. The 24-year-old started four of his six games back in 2016.