Oakland Raiders shock NFL, release two former first-round draft picks

By Josh Walfish
Darrius Heyward-Bey Oakland Raiders
Kelley L. Cox- USA TODAY Sports

The first day of free agency was busy and shocking for the Oakland Raiders.

The organization announced Tuesday it released three players and re-signed defensive back Phillip Adams. The three cuts were by far the most surprising as wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and safety Michael Huff were two of those let go. The Raiders took both of those players in the first round in the last seven years.

Huff was the least surprising of the two because he seemed to be on the outs with the coaching staff. He will be sorely missed in the secondary which is lacking a lot of pieces. The 2006 draft pick had 11 interceptions and 55 passes defended as a part of the Raiders.

Heyward-Bey was thought to be becoming a big target for Oakland’s quarterbacks, but has underachieved since being picked in 2009. He has not played a full season since coming into the NFL and he has not hit 70 catches 0r 1,000 yards in any of his four seasons. His best year was 2011 when he caught 64 passes for 975 yards and four touchdowns, but regressed in 2012 with 41 receptions for 606 yards with five scores.

Oakland is showing it is committed to making changes, but it seems like Reggie McKenzie may be looking in the wrong places. He released his best wideout and best defensive back presumably to get more cap space, but with limited cap room and few draft picks, it will be difficult to find solutions to the problems he created. There are now giant holes on the defensive line, in the secondary, at linebacker and at wide receiver, which Oakland can’t address in one offseason.

McKenzie has his work cut out for him now. Linebacker Philip Wheeler signed with the Miami Dolphins and most of the free agent wide receivers, linebackers and defensive backs are either not good enough to be starters in the NFL or are too expensive. Raider Nation better hope McKenzie has something up his sleeve or it will be another long season for the Raiders.

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