Originally written on Thoughts from the Dark Side  |  Last updated 11/19/14
The Raiders made 4 moves late in the first day of the new NFL league year. Declining to resign any of their 17 free agents the Raiders watched as both of their top free agents, LB Phillip Wheeler and DT Desmond Bryant signed large contracts with other teams – Wheeler for 5 years, maximum contract of $26M and with $13M guaranteed by Miami and Bryant with Cleveland for a 5 year deal worth up to $34 million. The Raiders weren’t likely to be able nor interested in resigning either player for those amounts and wisely let both players go. The team wasn't idle, though, announcing this evening that they had cut two former top ten players in S Michael Huff and WR Darrius Heyward-Bey.  Both Huff and Heyward-Bey were well liked in the locker room and both are known as hard workers and team players but both were set to earn well more than their play on the field deserved and the NFL is a business before anything else. It seems likely that one if not both was designated a “June 1st” cut which will spread the accelerated cap hit over both 2013 and 2014. Two players expected to get cut, Rolando McClain and Tommy Kelly, survived the first rounds but both are still likely to be cut before the season starts. It’s possible that both will be cut after June 1st, itself which would have the same effect. Also cut, the team announced, was Dave Tollefson who was signed last year to a 2 year contract but was underwhelming and lost playing time consistently as the season progressed. The moves mean that Lamarr Houston may be the only starting defensive lineman returning and that 2nd year player Miles Burris may be the only returning starting linebacker. The Raiders have approximately $32M in “dead money” for 2013.  Dead money means that the team is paying that money out to players that are no longer on the team. As the 2013 salary cap is approximately $123 for 2013 so slightly over a quarter of the teams allotted cap money is being used on players that aren’t with the team anymore. However the moves did bring the Raiders to approximately $16 million under the cap which means they can sign some mid-level free agents once the market starts to die down and players’ demands drop a bit. There was one signing already announced.  CB Philip Adams, who played on the team last year and was a restricted free agent this offseason was signed by the team for a reported one year contract worth $630,000.00.  The Raiders declined to tender any restricted contract to Adams – the lowest amount would have been worth $1.3M so the Raiders saved themselves some money with that move, too. The team is slowly working to clean up more than a decade’s mismanagement as the Raiders pushed the limits of the salary cap under Davis in the early 2000’s trying to sign and re-sign aging stars like Jerry Rice and Bill Romanowski to make one last run at a Super Bowl.  It worked, of course but the contracts played havoc with the team’s numbers for years afterwards and Davis’ refusal to clear out the roster and start to rebuild perpetuated the issues. Now, the Raiders are really starting over – even more than last year when many of the contracts were so prohibitive the team couldn’t even afford to cut players that it wanted to, like Rolando McClain. Last year’s motto was “The greatness of the Raiders is in their future.” Reggie McKenzie is hoping today’s moves will start to set the groundwork for a great future sooner than later. For more news and thoughts on the Raiders throughout the day, follow me on Twitter @AsherMathews
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Robert Griffin III benched by Redskins for McCoy

Dice-K Matsuzaka headed back to Japan

Lovie Smith: 2-9 Bucs are still in playoff contention

UCLA QB Brett Hundley likely to enter NFL draft

Bills will return to Ralph Wilson Stadium for Sunday's game

Miller to Oregon transfer rumor originates on Reddit

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Valencia FC ditches bat logo amidst DC Comics challenge

Paul Pierce: Celtics' Big Three was like 'Holy Trinity'

Cubs reportedly offer Jon Lester more than $135 million

Colin Kaepernick: Jim Harbaugh will be back in 2015

Jeremy Maclin not happy with Riley Cooper’s contract remark

Broncos reportedly waive kicker McManus, sign Connor Barth

Derrick Rose leaves game with hamstring tightness

WATCH: Ty Lawson drops Kirk Hinrich to the floor

Alabama DL trolls Auburn with Instagram photo

Rockies pitcher takes shot at former Astros pitcher

WATCH: Paul Pierce signs autograph during game

Jeremy Hill asks great question about alma mater LSU

NBA rookie rankings after 1st month of 2014-15 season

Statistic about Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler very revealing

Aaron Rodgers blasts those who accused him of trolling Vikings

The century's 10 most one-sided college football rivalries

WATCH: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of NBA's first month

Sherman mocks NFL media policies in press conference

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Rose leaves with injury again

WATCH: Pierce signs for fan during game

Report: McCoy to start over RG3

Braxton Miller headed to Oregon?

10 most one-sided college football rivalries

Pierce: C's Big Three like 'Holy Trinity'

Maclin unhappy with Cooper comments

Post-Week 13 CFB Playoff projection

What has Masai Ujiri built in Toronto?

How L.A. should replace Hanley

Lester, Red Sox still talking contract

Why each NFL team should be thankful

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.