Raiders release linebacker Tahir Whitehead in cost-cutting move

Raiders, Tahir Whitehead (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Raiders, Tahir Whitehead (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

The Las Vegas Raiders have officially released starting linebacker Tahir Whitehead in a cost-cutting move designed to create cap space.

The Las Vegas Raiders are expected to make a point out of revamping their linebacker position in the offseason and that started today with the official announcement that the team had released Tahir Whitehead.

Whitehead was originally signed by the Raiders back in 2018 after spending five years with the Detroit Lions. In two seasons with the Raiders, Whitehead started all 32 games while leading the team in tackles in consecutive seasons.

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However, the writing had been on the wall for quite some time.

The acquisition of veteran Will Compton actually diminished Whitehead’s role on defense over the final few weeks and it was clear that the Raiders weren’t going to keep him under his current deal going into 2020.

Despite racking up tackles, Whitehead simply wasn’t cutting it. The 29-year-old finished with a very poor Pro Football Focus grade of 55.2 in 2019 and he remained a liability in coverage more than an asset.

The Raiders will be looking to get more productive at the linebacker position — a position where they have been searching for a solution for years.

Perhaps that solution could come in the 2020 NFL Draft with prospects such as Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray and LSU’s Patrick Queen expected to be selected in Las Vegas’ draft range.

Or perhaps the Raiders could find their standout linebacker in free agency with players like Cory Littleton and Joe Schobert set to hit the open market.

Either way, it was evident that Whitehead wasn’t the guy.

The Raiders swung and missed on veteran stop-gaps in the past with both Whitehead and Vontaze Burfict failing to meet expectations. Whitehead has now been released freeing up nearly $6 million in cap space.

And with both Burfict and Compton set to be unrestricted free agents, expect plenty of turnover at the linebacker position. In fact, only two linebackers are even officially on the roster at the moment — Marquel Lee and Quentin Poling.

Nicholas Morrow is a restricted free agent and should be back, but the remainder of the linebacker core needs to be replenished. And this offseason, the Raiders will undoubtedly add some players.

With Whitehead’s salary now off the books, the team has more financial flexibility to work with in free agency.

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Given his durability and quality production, Whitehead should find a new home in 2020. He just won’t be moving with the team to Las Vegas.