HENDERSON, Nev. — The Las Vegas Raiders plan to release veteran Kenyan Drake back and face a $3.6 million salary cap this year and $4.4 million in 2023, a source confirmed to ESPN.
The news was first reported by NFL Network.
Drake, 28, was returning from a broken right ankle he sustained in week 13 last season. He had played in all three preseason games of the Raiders thus far and told ESPN after the show against the Minnesota Vikings on August 14 that the running backs were the “heartbeat” and “engine” of the team.
“I feel great,” Drake said at the time. “Mentally I feel like I’m getting the plays down, the more I’m there in game reps, practice reps. And then physically, I just go out and get hit after my injury. I just feel really confident in the steps that I put.”
In the three preseason games, Drake rushed for 30 yards on 12 carries and caught five passes for 27 yards.
Drake signed a two-year $11 million free agent contract with the Raiders last year when Mike Mayock was general manager and Jon Gruden coach, but restructured the deal.
However, the new regime of GM Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels seemingly sent a warning flame by holding several players back in Las Vegas for Saturday’s show at the Miami Dolphins but taking Drake into the game.
A crowded running back room still features former Pro Bowler Josh Jacobs, former New England Patriots pass-catching back Brandon Bolden, who has yet to play in the preseason, fourth-round draft pick Zamir White, seventh-rounder Brittain Brown and vets Ameer Abdullah and Austin. Walter, as well as former Patriots fullback Jakob Johnson.
NFL teams must reduce their roster to 80 players by 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.