With the NFL season nearly upon us, now is a good time to examine the players on the roster bubble for the 2021 Las Vegas Raiders. There is no joy in predicting—or expecting—someone to fail, but it is a harsh reality of the business. These three players are most likely to receive their walking papers before the start of the season, making them Las Vegas Raiders fringe roster candidates for the 2021 campaign.
2021 Las Vegas Raiders Fringe Roster Candidates
Since arriving in Las Vegas by way of a trade with the Buffalo Bills, Zay Jones has not done much of anything to justify his roster spot. Whether it is due to lack of opportunity or failure to stand out during practice, Jones is reaching the end of his leeway with the Raiders. It is one of those sad occasions where the effort in the off-season is not translating to the field during the season. No one questions his talent or desire to be great, but not everyone can be a success in this league.
As of this writing, Jones is buried on the depth chart behind the likes of Willie Snead and Bryan Edwards. It will take a phenomenal preseason performance for Zay Jones to carve out any playing time in the regular season, let alone a roster spot. Even that may not be enough for him to receive any meaningful playing time. The determination is there, but something is simply not carrying over into game days.
Even though Jalen Richard signed a two-year extension in January, his roster spot is not a sure thing. Only half of his $7 million contract is guaranteed; his cap hit is manageable. Richard has seen his usage decrease every season since the arrival of Jon Gruden. The fact Richard does not fit Gruden’s favored “power back” role does him no favors. Richard is at his best when he is catching passes out of the backfield.
The arrival of Kenyan Drake is not a good sign for Richard either. Even without the presence of Drake last season, Richard mostly found himself relegated to special teams. He will have to lock down his role as a special teams contributor early on in training camp or risk not making the final 53-man roster. A change of scenery may be on the horizon for the third-string running back.
Sadly, no one really knows what to make of Tanner Muse. After missing his entire rookie season due to a toe injury, the deck is stacked against him. He played a hybrid safety position at Clemson, somewhat in the same mold as former fellow teammate Isaiah Simmons, just nowhere near as talented.
The Raiders drafted Muse with the intention of converting him to linebacker. He is currently listed on the depth chart as a middle linebacker, but Nick Kwiatkoski already solidifies the position. When the Raiders drafted Muse, they viewed him as a project. He will likely find himself relegated to special teams this season. If he can not carve out a role for himself there, Muse may soon need to look for employment elsewhere.
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