Raiders release WR Martavis Bryant on busy cut-down day
ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Oakland Raiders waived Martavis Bryant on Saturday, just over four months after trading a third-round pick to Pittsburgh for the receiver.
The decision to cut Bryant came on a busy day for the Raiders as they reduced their roster to 53 players. The biggest move of the day was the trade of holdout pass rusher Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears for a package that included two first-round picks.
Oakland also acquired backup quarterback AJ McCarron from Buffalo for a 2019 fifth-round pick, dealt 2017 seventh-round safety Shalom Luani to Seattle for a 2019 seventh-round pick, and placed cornerback Daryl Worley on the suspended list after he got a four-game ban Saturday for violating the NFL’s policies on substance abuse and personal conduct.
Among the other notable players cut were 2015 second-round defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. and 2016 fourth-round quarterback Connor Cook. Edwards’ release means the Raiders now have none of their second-round picks from 2015-17 on the current roster, having previously cut ties with 2016 defensive tackle Jihad Ward and 2017 safety Obi Melifonwu.
The Raiders also got nothing out of the third-round pick dealt to the Steelers for Bryant, who dealt with injuries in training camp and has had several off-field issues in his career.
The other players cut Saturday were receivers Marcell Ateman, Saeed Blacknall and Isaac Whitney; tight ends Marcus Baugh, Pharoah Brown and Paul Butler; running backs James Butler and Ryan Yurachek; linebackers Jason Cabinda, James Cowser and Azeem Victor; defensive backs Jarell Carter, Antwuan Davis, Antonio Hamilton, Dallin Leavitt, Quincy Mauger, Raysean Pringle and Shareece Wright; defensive linemen Connor Flagel, Shakir Soto and Gabe Wright; and offensive linemen Cameron Hunt, Denver Kirkland, Jordan Simmons, Jylan Ware, Oday Aboushi and James Stone.
The Raiders also placed defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes on the physically unable to perform list as he recovers from a torn ACL in last season’s finale.
Kicker Eddy Pineiro and running back Chris Warren III were both placed on injured reserve, and cornerback Dexter McDonald was waived with an injury designation.
Mack held out for the entire offseason and preseason, seeking a new, long-term contract rather than playing under the final year of his rookie deal that would have earned him $13.8 million. Raiders coach Jon Gruden, in his biggest move since returning to the sideline from the broadcast booth, accommodated the 27-year-old Mack on Saturday.
Oakland will get first-round selections in 2019 and 2020, a sixth-rounder next year and a third-rounder in 2020. Oakland also included its second-round selection in 2020 and a conditional fifth-rounder that year.
Mack is a two-time All-Pro and the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Mack has played in every game for Oakland since being drafted fifth overall in 2014, with 231 primary tackles, 40½ sacks and nine forced fumbles.
Since entering the league, Mack leads all players with 185½ quarterback pressures and ranks second with 68 tackles for loss, according to SportRadar.
Mack had been a cornerstone in Oakland along with Derek Carr ever since being drafted and helped the Raiders end a 13-year playoff drought in 2016. But he never formed a relationship with Gruden, who had said the opportunity to coach Mack was one of the reasons he was attracted to the job.
Gruden had called Mack Oakland’s best player but decided to go in a different direction rather than give another player a contract worth more than $20 million a year after Carr got a lucrative extension last summer.
The Raiders invested heavily in the pass rush in the draft, taking tackles P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst and end Arden Key in hopes of teaming them with Mack and Irvin. The three rookies showed promise in the preseason, but they will never get the chance to play with Mack.
The Raiders also cut E.J. Manuel after the 53-man roster was finalized to make room for McCarron to be their backup quarterback. Manuel played well in the finale against Seattle on Thursday night but too many turnovers earlier in the preseason led to the decision to get McCarron instead.
McCarron was initially considered the front-runner to land the starting job in Buffalo after signing a two-year contract in March, but struggled with inconsistent play. He also suffered a right shoulder injury in Buffalo’s second preseason game against Cleveland, which hindered his pursuit of the starting job.