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Stanford Routt release shows a step in new direction for Raiders


Raiders' CB Stanford Routt, drafted by Oakland in the 2nd round of the 2005 draft, was released on Thursday. (EPA)

Reggie McKenzie had two options when he took over as the Raiders' GM: Keep the status quo and hope it was good enough to win the AFC West in 2012 or revamp the franchise's entire approach. With the release of cornerback Stanford Routt on Thursday, McKenzie made it pretty clear he's choosing the latter.

Routt restructured his contract last offseason to get $54.5 million over five years with $20 million guaranteed -- huge numbers for an over-matched cornerback. Routt had 15 pass deflections and four interceptions last season, but those numbers don't tell the whole story. Without Nnamdi Asomugha as his security blanket, Routt had major issues against the opposition's No. 1 receivers, collecting a whopping 17 penalties.

Pro Football Focus, in fact, had him ranked as the 89th-best cornerback in the league, based on production last season. That's hardly worth $10 million-plus a season.

Routt, though, was one of the few experienced members of Oakland's secondary. If the season kicked off today, the Raiders likely would trot out Demarcus Van Dyke (four career starts) and Chimdi Chekwa (one start) as their cornerbacks.

Fortunately for the Raiders, they have a few months to address that position, but where will they find help?

Prior to the Routt release, the Raiders were projected to be well over the 2012 salary cap, based on some numbers churned out by the Sun Sentinel's Omar Kelly, meaning that jumping full-bore into the free-agent market could be tricky. Oakland also has no first-, second-, fourth- or seventh-round draft pick, so finding an impact player in April doesn't seem likely either.

Because of those factors, Routt probably won't be the last overpriced Raiders veteran to be handed his walking papers. Richard Seymour, who's reportedly due a $7.5 million roster bonus plus $7.5 million in base salary, could be on the chopping block -- or, at the very least, a player Oakland will try to talk into reworking his contract. Other potential cut candidates include safety Michael Huff, offensive lineman Cooper Carlisle and linebackers Aaron Curry and Kamerion Wimbley.

The Raiders have decisions to make, too, on pending unrestricted free agents Tyvon Branch and Michael Bush. One or the other could command the franchise tag to keep him in town.

Long story short, McKenzie has a tough task ahead of him trying to keep the Raiders from plummeting back to the league's depths while also stemming the tide from a financial perspective. Routt's salary had inflated to the point where he was an easy target.