With Derek Carr‘s extension looming over the entire Oakland Raiders offseason, there has been a lot of speculation about how much the team will have to spend in free agency. One area of that conversation that I have not yet covered and have not seen anyone else really discuss is how muchÂ cap space the Raiders could save through the NFL Draft.
What do I mean by that? Well, the Raiders were a much better team in 2016 meaning they will make their draft selections much later in every round. With the rookie salary scale, that guarantees that the Raiders will be paying less to their rookie class than they did in 2016.
Last year, Karl Joseph was taken by the Raiders at number 14. His salary cap number for 2016 was $2,160,785.
Compare that to Amari Cooper, who the Raiders selected at number 4 in 2015. His rookie salary cap number was $4,120,567. That means the Raiders spent almost $2 million less in 2016 on their first round pick than in 2015.
Now look at William Jackson III, who was taken at number 24 last season, the pick where the Raiders will draft this season. His rookie salary cap number was $1,764,662.
Obviously the drop off isnâ€™t nearly as big as it was going from number four to number 14, but thatâ€™s still about $400,000 in savings on the first round pick alone. The diminishing returns in savings will continue through the draft but you can still expect the Raiders to pay a couple million less on their picks this year than last year.
But thereâ€™s a chance they could save even more if Reggie McKenzie trades back. Letâ€™s say McKenzie doesnâ€™t love anyone in the back of the first round. He could trade back to the second round. Letâ€™s say he drops to the fourth pick of the second round. Last year, that was Hunter Henry and his cap number was $1,160,056, which would be a savings of just over a million dollars between him and William Jackson III (who, you will remember, was picked at 24 in the first round).
If McKenzie trades back for more picks in this draft, the additional salaries will diminish the savings, but he could also trade back for an additional first round pick next season rather than getting more picks this season.
No matter what the Raiders do, they arenâ€™t going to save a ton of money by picking so late in the draft. Had they gone from taking Amari Cooper at number four to someone at number 24, the drop off would be huge. And while they save a lot of money moving from 4th to 14th last offseason, the savings this year wonâ€™t be nearly as impactful.
But they will be savings which means the Raiders and Reggie McKenzie can allot a little bit more money to free agency this offseason.
Unless of course… McKenzie is thinking about trading up in the first round…
I know, not likely but the offseason is meant for dreaming.
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