Raiders cut ties with another former first-round pick
Damon Arnette was released from the organization after several troubling off-the-field instances were made public over the last few days.
Raiders’ general manager Mike Mayock admitted Monday the team had concerns about Damon Arnette’s off-the-field behavior before selecting him in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft.
Those issues finally became too problematic, according to Mayock, and the team on Monday decided to release him.
The final straw was a video that surfaced on social media of Arnette brandishing a weapon and threatening to kill an unidentified individual.
“It was a very painful decision,” Mayock said. “We spent significant time, efforts and resources trying to help him in all facets of his life. There have been a series of bad decisions over the last year or so, but we can’t stand for the video of Damon with a gun threatening to take a life. The content was unacceptable.”
The Raiders have now cut ties with both of their first-round picks from the 2020 draft in less than a week.
Henry Ruggs was released last week after a crash for which he is facing charges for DUI resulting in a death and reckless driving.
Arnette has been hit with multiple lawsuits, including one for a hit-and-run accident outside the team facility and another for an altercation involving a valet attendant at a resort on the Strip.
There have been other rumors of bad behavior, but it was the alarming social media video that forced a decision to be made.
“It’s contrary to our values,” Mayock said. “And our owner Mark Davis has been very clear and very consistent that this is not how we will conduct ourselves in this community. The bottom line is the Raiders will not tolerate this type of behavior.
“On a personal note, I’ve talked to Damon, his dad and a couple others in his life. From my perspective, he’s a very talented young man with a good heart. If he cleans up his life, I know he can make a living in the NFL. But not now, not with the Raiders.”
There hasn’t been much success on the field for Arnette, either.
The 25-year-old played in nine games, including seven starts, as a rookie. He was demoted this year, playing in a reserve role for the first four games before going on injured reserve.
He was considered a long shot to go in the first round when the Raiders made the selection last year, partly due to questions about his character.
Mayock said those issues also gave the Raiders pause in making the selection.
“There was significant concern and most of the teams around the league were very aware of it,” Mayock said. “We spent an awful lot of time trying to understand his behavior.”
The Raiders’ front office made the decision to take him after spending a great deal of time talking to the coaches at Ohio State. According to Mayock, Arnette’s college coaches believed the Raiders had a good structure in place to deal with Arnette.
“Obviously in hindsight, we weren’t able to do it,” he said. “We were all concerned about this, but at the time we thought it was an acceptable risk.”
The gamble failed and the Raiders are left reeling.
Mayock, however, fought back on the perception that between Ruggs and Arnette the Raiders are an out-of-control team after the two players had to be dismissed from the organization within a week.
“I understand the perception of people on the outside looking in because of this past week and I get it,” he said. “I understand it. But we couldn’t feel further than that perception. We think the truth is we have a good young corps.
“I like the way (interim coach Rich Bisaccia) is working with these kids. They are all buying in. We had a bad day (in Sunday’s loss to the Giants), but I can’t wait to see how we get challenged this week and come out and play against Kansas City.”
The Raiders play the Chiefs on Sunday night at Allegiant Stadium.
Contact Adam Hill at email@example.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.