By Paul Wexler
RaiderBeat.com Staff Writer
The Raiders began a purge of their cap-heavy, unwanted players Friday by releasing veterans Ronald Curry, strong safety Gibril Wilson and defensive end Kalimba Edwards.
The moves generated approximately $6.2 million in salary-cap room, which the Raiders need to fit in the new contracts doled out to cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and punter Shane Lechler earlier this week and for the free agency period that begins Feb. 27.
Curry led the Raiders in receiving in 2006 and 2007, but he fell from favor under coach Tom Cable early last season, was benched in favor of rookie Chaz Schilens, and expressed his desire to play elsewhere.
The Raiders saved $2.3 million by releasing Curry, a seven-year veteran selected by the Raiders in the seventh round of the 2002 NFL Draft.
Curry was one of only three players left from the Raiders team that appeared in the Super Bowl after his rookie season. Lechler and kicker Sebastian Janikowski are the others.
The Raiders touted Wilson as a major free-agent signing last year. He started for the New York Giants in the Super Bowl in the 2007 season and led all safeties in tackles from 2004-07.
He recorded more than 100 tackles last season but struggled in pass coverage and making open-field tackles. The Raiders were hopeful that he would give them the kind of impact safety they haven’t had since Rod Woodson retired.
Releasing Wilson saved the Raiders $1.4 million. His release came, in part, because Wilson refused to take a reduction on the $4.5 million roster bonus due him in early March.
Edwards tied for the team lead in sacks with rookie Trevor Scott last season. He started strong but flamed out as the season progressed. Scott’s emergence into a dependable pass-rusher, as well as Edwards’ prohibitive salary prompted the move Friday.
The Raiders saved $2.5 million by releasing Edwards. Third-year player Jay Richardson and Scott are expected to received increased playing time now that Edwards is gone.
The Raiders are expected to part ways with left offensive tackle Kwame Harris and a few others in the next several days. Cutting Harris would net the Raiders $7.2 million in 2009 cap savings.