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Raiders free more cap space by releasing QB, receiver who got hot at the end of 2018

Gruden happy with Carr after Raiders pull off upset against Steelers

Oakland Raiders Jon Gruden not satisfied with some of the play calling by officials but happy with the performance of his quarterback Derek Carr after 24-21 victory over Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018 in Oakland.
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Oakland Raiders Jon Gruden not satisfied with some of the play calling by officials but happy with the performance of his quarterback Derek Carr after 24-21 victory over Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018 in Oakland.

The Raiders released wide receiver Jordy Nelson and quarterback A.J. McCarron, they announced Thursday afternoon.

Nelson was the Raiders’ No. 1 wide receiver at the end of last season, and the team paid him a $3.6 million bonus late in 2018. His release opens more than $3.5 million in cap space, according to Over The Cap, since he carried a cap number of more than $5.3 million but a dead money hit of $1.8 million. His $3 million base salary for 2019 would have become fully guaranteed if he were on the roster Friday, so the Raiders save cash with the move, too.

Nelson caught 63 passes for 739 yards and three touchdowns in his only season with the Raiders after entering as the team’s highest-profile offseason signing. From Weeks 6-10, Nelson caught only five passes for 36 yards. In the final five games in which he played, however, he reeled in 38 passes for 386 yards.

Nelson, who turns 34 on May 31, had this to say when asked late last year if he planned to play for the Raiders in 2019: “It’s not always the player’s decision. But yeah, that’s the plan. We’ve enjoyed our time out here so far, enjoyed being with the team and starting the rebuilding process and being a part of that.”

McCarron served as Derek Carr’s backup last season, playing in two games and throwing three passes. His release frees $5 million in cap space, according to OTC, which also notes that McCarron’s $3 million roster bonus for 2019 would have become guaranteed if he were on the roster Friday and $1.1 million of his $1.9 million base salary for 2019 would have become guaranteed if he were on the roster Sunday.

The only other quarterback employed by the Raiders is Nathan Peterman, who’s signed to a reserve/future contract.

There are several mid-round quarterback options in this year’s draft that coach Jon Gruden is familiar with from the Senior Bowl, like North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley, Washington State’s Gardner Minshew II and Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson.

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