ALAMEDA Former No. 7 overall picks Michael Huff and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey were released Tuesday as the Raiders worked on putting their financial house in order on the first day of the new NFL year.
Meanwhile, 17 of the Raiders' unrestricted free agents went on the open market, with linebacker Philip Wheeler (Miami Dolphins) and defensive tackle Desmond Bryant (Cleveland Browns) agreeing to terms on contracts with those teams, according to reports from ProFootballTalk.com.
Both players negotiated with the Raiders before the free-agency period but were unable to strike a deal.
Also released by the Raiders was defensive end David Tollefson on a day when they cleared an additional $8.7 million under the NFL's $123 million salary cap. The moves give the Raiders approximately $15 million under the cap to sign free agents including some of theirs who are testing the market.
Starting quarterback Carson Palmer, with a $13 million salary and $15 million cap number, and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, scheduled for a $6.5 million salary with a $9.4 million cap number, could be candidates for restructure or release, although the latter option seems remote in Palmer's case.
Huff was taken No. 7 overall in 2006 and Heyward-Bey in 2009.
The release of Huff comes as a minor surprise in that both coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie had spoken glowingly of his efforts as an emergency starter at cornerback in 2012 and talked about his return to free safety alongside Tyvon Branch.
Huff was to make $4 million in salary and had an upcoming $4 million roster bonus as part of a contract extension he received in the Al Davis regime two years ago.
Heyward-Bey showed some promise in 2011 and 2012 after two difficult seasons, but not enough to justify a $7.7 million salary and a salary cap figure of $10.6 million.
Tollefson, whose playing time was minimal in the final four games of the season, was to make $900,000 this season.
For now, another premium pick remains on the roster. Middle linebacker Rolando McClain, the No. 8 overall selection in 2010, remains available by trade leading up to the NFL draft.
McClain was demoted to nickel packages in Week 4 last season, lost his starting job at middle linebacker to Omar Gaither and eventually received a two-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team after an argument with Allen.
Assuming McClain does not return, Wheeler's absence leaves second-year player Miles Burris, a former Granite Bay High School standout, as the lone returning starting linebacker.