What to do with Raiders CB Sean Smith

Oakland Raiders cornerback Sean Smith has the fourth highest cap hit on the Raiders’ roster in 2017, yet he is obviously not the fourth best player on the team and comes nowhere close to cracking the top 10.

Smith’s $9.5 million cap hit, per Spotrac, lands him in dangerous waters. He is due No. 1 cornerback money, but will probably be the No. 3 or No. 4 cornerback on the team this fall. Moreover, Oakland ranked just No. 24 against the pass in 2016, so being third or fourth on the depth chart is nothing to get excited about.

The Raiders will be moving on from Smith at some point. Whether it is this year or next year, we do not know.

If Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie wants to see Smith in a new uniform in 2017, here are McKenzie’s options.

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Sep 25, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Oakland Raiders cornerback Sean Smith (21) celebrates after defeating the Tennessee Titans 17-10 at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Cut Raiders CB Sean Smith

Many of Raider Nation might clamor for Smith to be cut, however, that would make zero sense for the football team.

If McKenzie chooses to cut him, he would only save the franchise $250,000 since $9.25 million would still count against the cap as dead money, via Spotrac. Therefore, there is absolutely no benefit to seeing Smith cut this season.

Oakland would also not be able to find an equally talented replacement for $250,000. In addition, Smith has performed poorly, for his price tag, but is still a decent starting cornerback in the NFL as long as the team plays around his weaknesses.

If no cap space is to be gained from his departure, it is safe to say he will be on the roster come Week 1 of the NFL regular season unless McKenzie surprises the NFL by making a trade.

Lastly, the Raiders can cut Smith in 2018 without penalty since there would be no dead money by releasing him then.

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Photo via Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Trade Raiders CB Sean Smith

A trade scenario is extremely unlikely since McKenzie has never been eager to make trades and no team would want to take on Smith’s contract without getting something in return.

Regardless, here is a hypothetical trade scenario that would help out two teams and send Smith out of Oakland.

First and foremost, the Raiders must find a team that is not expecting to win this season and has cap space to spare.

Luckily, the three teams with the most cap space, the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars, are not expected to be a winning team in 2017.

Proposed trade: Raiders’ Sean Smith and 2018 6th round pick to San Francisco

Currently, the 49ers’ two starting cornerbacks, Dontae Johnson and Rashard Robinson, have Pro Football Focus player grades of 65.8 and 50.4 respectively.

If Smith came in, he would immediately become a starter Day 1 and could give valuable leadership to the young pieces in San Francisco. After Smith’s one year with the Niners, the organization could release him without any penalty and would have accrued an extra sixth round selection to help build the team for the future.

In regards to Oakland, McKenzie would be extremely hesitant to part ways with a sixth round draft pick, but he would save the team $5.25 million, via Spotrac.

With Carr and Jackson’s recent contracts and Mack’s future contract, $5.25 million could go a long way in helping keep the Raiders’ young core together. In essence, the $5.25 million could be more valuable than having one sixth round pick in 2018.

Maybe, that $5.25 million will help bring Raiders tackle Donald Penn to training camp.

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Photo via Getty Images

What McKenzie should do

Personally, parting ways with any assets is not the smartest move for the Raiders.

Oakland should keep Smith on the 53 man roster and cut him the following season. Then, they can have his services for 2017, not lose any draft picks and move on from him in 2018 when they can do so without hurting the team’s cap space.

Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

NFL turns it back, kicks Colin Kaepernick to the curb

The article can also be found on the Miscellany news!

Today, the NFL will induct college football’s brightest players into its fraternity, with the opening round of the 2017 draft. For San Francisco 49er fans, today might be the day they finally get their new quarterback.

But what ran the last guy out of San Francisco? Simply put, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick just took a knee.

It’s the story that the NFL wants the common fan to forget about. While known domestic abusers and players with rap sheets as long as paper towel rolls are consistently given second chances in the league, Kaepernick, the man who was brave enough to do what so many athletes won’t, is out of a job.

Kaepernick was virtually kicked out of the NFL following his national anthem racial injustice protests during the 2015-2016 season. The current blacklisting of Kaepernick has firmly cemented the NFL as the most conservative institution in all of professional sports.

And this conversation, that looked to be finally fading away off of the NFL’s long list of PR issues, has now been given new life. The free agent quarterback was recently named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2017, a strong accolade for an athlete who is unlikely to throw a pass in 2017.

Jim Harbaugh, who coached Kaepernick in San Francisco from 2011 to 2014 during a golden age for the Niners, wrote the article that appeared alongside the Milwaukee native in Time Magazine.

“At times in our nation’s history, we have been all too quick to judge and oppose our fellow Americans for exercising their First Amendment right to address things they believe unjust,” Harbaugh said on Kaepernicks’s protest. “Rather than besmirch their character, we must celebrate their act. For we cannot pioneer and invent if we are fearful of deviating from the norm, damaging our public perception or-most important-harming our own personal interests.”

Harbaugh was not alone in his not-so-subtle shots at the NFL for not embracing Kaepernick. Appearing on ESPN’s First Take last month, outspoken Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman asserted that Kaepernick was treated unfairly during free agency.

“Obviously he’s going to be in a backup role at this point. But you see quarterbacks, there was a year Matt Schaub had a pretty rough year and got signed the next year,” Sherman said. “So it has nothing to do with football. You can see that. They signed guys who have had off years before.”

It is true that Kaepernick has not been a particularly good quarterback for the last couple of years.

However, he is still a relatively young player who brought the 49ers to two NFC championships and a Super Bowl appearance. His unemployment status just does not add up.

Additionally, with such a dearth of versatile quarterbacks currently in the league, it is almost unfathomable how no team has given Kaepernick a workout or even a glance.

All this boils down to an unfortunate fact: the NFL’s brand and fan base are too deeply attached to overt displays of patriotism. Kaepernick thus becomes the ultimate poison.

Other pro leagues like the NBA have openly encouraged players to use their position as influential public figures to speak out on issues, especially those of racial inequality.

So here’s a message to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the 32 league owners. Don’t turn your back on your Black players.

Someone take a stand and give Kap a second chance under center. Your team can become a league pioneer for racial justice if you just let him take a knee on your sideline next season.

The article can also be found on the Miscellany news!

NL West: Every Team’s Most “Under the Radar” Player

Los Angeles Dodgers

Joc Pederson


(Richard Mackson/USA Today Photo)

He broke out early in 2015, slumped in the second half, and everyone forgot about him. Outside of Los Angeles, I don’t think people realized how good Joc was in 2016. He posted a better OPS (.847) than Justin Turner (.832), but Turner finished 9th in MVP voting, and Pederson didn’t get a single vote. He also cut down on his strikeouts, had more total bases, and hit one less homer than he did in 2015, all in 109 fewer plate appearances.

Hopefully Joc will garner more attention in 2017.

San Francisco Giants

Derek Law

Derek Law

(Brad Mangin/Getty Images)

As a rookie in 2016, Derek Law posted a 2.13 ERA (2.53 FIP). A single season can be deceptive, especially as a reliever; however, outside of San Francisco circles, Law got no attention. If you’re a Giants fan, you know that he was certainly the most consistent arm out of an otherwise tumultuous bullpen.

It’ll be interesting to see if he can open more eyes with a solid sophomore campaign.

Colorado Rockies

DJ Lemahieu

DJ Lemahieu

(Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire Photo)

After posting a .911 OPS and winning the batting title in 2016, you’d think DJ Lemahieu would be one of the most talked about players in the game, yet, his name almost never comes up; Bleacher Report ranked him the 9th best second basemen, which is heinous. MLB Network’s “shredder” ranked Lemahieu the 7th best second basemen, ahead of Brian Dozier, Logan Forsythe and Ben Zobrist, two of whom were higher on BR’s list.

He definitely gets a bad wrap because he plays at Coors Field, but his home/road splits were decent last year; Lemahieu posted a .303 average on the road, albeit his slugging percentage was low (.395). He’s no schlub on defense either, posting six wins above replacement over the last five seasons.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Brandon Drury

Brandon Drury

(Ben Margot/AP Photo)

Following a brief stint with the club in 2015, Drury became a fixture in the Diamondbacks 2016 lineup. In his age 23 season, Drury posted a .786 OPS and hit 16 home runs in 461 at bats. If he can cut down on his strikeouts in 2017 (100), Drury could become a real force in the Arizona lineup.

He’s a bit of a defensive liability, though, as he made four errors in just 103 chances at second and third base. He wasn’t fantastic in the outfield either, but he was better. The Diamondbacks should stick him there to avoid another -1.7 defensive WAR season.

San Diego Padres

Yangervis Solarte

Yangervis Solarte

(Joe Camporeale/USA Today Photo)

Although he missed a decent chunk of last season, in his 443 plate appearances, Solarte was phenomenal, posting an .808 OPS. If you discount the fact that he didn’t register the 502 at-bats needed to qualify for a batting title, Solarte’s OPS puts him above Xander Bogaerts, Elvis Andrus, Stephen Piscotty, Francisco Lindor, Mike Napoli, etc. He’s ahead of plenty more “bigger” names, too. He also hit 15 home runs in his limited at bats.

Solarte was the guy who inspired me to write this. When I looked up his stats a couple days ago, I was shocked by how good he was and how little I heard his name. The last time he was getting a lot of publicity was when he broke onto the scene with the Yankees in 2014. Hopefully more people take notice of him this season. 


All data courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.