OAKLAND, Calif. — David Amerson was too injured to play the final nine games of the 2017 season.
On Monday, he was deemed healthy enough not to be compensated.
The Raiders released the cornerback two days before his $5.5 million salary for 2018 was scheduled to become fully guaranteed. The amount was protected to Amerson in the event he was injured when Wednesday arrived. Oakland won’t owe Amerson a cent unless he files and wins a grievance protesting his medical standing at the time of his departure.
His agent’s intentions are unclear. A request for comment was not returned.
Amerson exited an Oct. 19 game against the Kansas City Chiefs with what a source said was diagnosed as a “mid-foot sprain.” Over time, the injury did not improve as hoped. Amerson said in December that he planned to visit a specialist during the offseason to confirm the ailment’s exact nature.
“It’s got to be something that’s going on,” he said, citing the slow recovery.
Amerson signed a four-year, $33.9 million extension in 2016. A source familiar with the deal’s language said the contract guarantees him his 2018 salary if he is “unable, in the sole discretion of the Club’s physician, to pass Club’s pre-season physical examination, and Player’s contract is terminated via the NFL waiver system.”
Amerson’s release is the first transaction under new Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s tenure, and it likely won’t be the last for a high-priced cornerback Gruden inherited. Sean Smith was arraigned in January for felony assault and battery charges. His next court appointment reportedly is on Feb. 13 in the Los Angeles area. The case stems from an alleged incident last July involving his sister’s then-boyfriend.
Smith is due an $8.25 million salary in 2018. He signed a four-year, $38 million contract in 2016. After a slow start, he provided his best play under the deal last season. Like a healthy Amerson, his release would create no dead money against the salary cap.
More change is possible for the team’s cornerbacks. TJ Carrie led the position group with 1,023 defensive snaps in 2017. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 14.
As a silver lining, the team anticipates a strong return from 2017 first-round pick Gareon Conley. A shin injury sidelined him throughout training camp and into the season. He played 92 defensive snaps across Weeks 2 and 3 but saw no action beyond that. Conley underwent surgery on Nov. 20.