Pro Bowl Might Not Save Reggie Nelson

Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio pleads his case with Field Judge Steve Zimmer (33) during the NFL AFC Wild Card game between the Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans on January 7, 2017, at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire)

Reggie Nelson was nominated to the 2017 Pro Bowl and most Oakland Raiders fans are still scratching their heads and trying to figure out why. As we all know, the Pro Bowl is less about being elite and more about being a house hold name. After a strong year in 2015, it was like Pro Bowl voters missed the step back in 2016.

Nelson’s stats this season weren’t too bad. His tackles were down, fourth worst in his career, but he had two fumble recoveries and five interceptions. But when you watch the film, it’s almost hard not to lose track of how many times he allows plays to get past him. In his end of the season press conference, Jack Del Rio called out the secondary and blamed them for too many big plays this season.

As the free safety and your last line of defense, Jack Del Rio might as well have been calling out Reggie Nelson.

As I have said many times, part of the problem with Nelson is that the Raiders are using him more often than not as a single high safety. That’s not something he has the athleticism to do well and that’s been very clear this season. The other problem is just that Nelson is getting older and unlike Charles Woodson in his waning years, Nelson doesn’t have the insane football IQ to help make up for diminishing physical abilities.

And cutting Nelson would be pretty easy to do. His entire cap number of $4.25 million would come off of the books by cutting him. That’s right not a single penny in dead money.

On top of that, late in the year this past season, Nate Allen played for the injured Karl Joseph and looked pretty good. Obviously the Raiders would prefer an upgrade over Allen, but if they want to save some cash by cutting Nelson, they know that at the very least they have Allen in reserve.

So far in this series, only Dan Williams appeared to be a likely candidate for being a cap casualty. Until now. If the Raiders are looking to clear some money off of the books, Nelson is a prime candidate.

He represents a position that the Raiders can afford to upgrade as well as a contract that can be cut without any dead money.

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