Alex Leatherwood was the 17th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but his tenure with the Las Vegas Raiders will last just one season. The Raiders waived Leatherwood on Tuesday as part of their roster cutdown, as PFN’s Aaron Wilson confirmed.
Raiders waive Alex Leatherwood
The Raiders’ new regime — led by head coach Josh McDaniel and general manager Dave Ziegler — wasted no time in moving on from Leatherwood, who was drafted by Vegas’ previous decision-makers, Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden. LV reportedly attempted to trade Leatherwood before cutting ties but received no interest around the NFL.
While Leatherwood was viewed as an overdraft at the time, this is still a shocking fall from grace for a former first-round pick. Leatherwood started all 17 games for the Raiders last season while splitting time between guard and tackle.
Now, Las Vegas has decisions to make along its offensive line. The Raiders recently placed veteran right tackle Brandon Parker on injured reserve, ending his season. Thus, seventh-round rookie Thayer Munford — who received some work with the starters during the preseason — could line up as Vegas’ Week 1 right tackle.
First-round rookie contracts are fully guaranteed, so Leatherwood will collect the entirety of his paycheck. The Raiders will eat nearly $12 million in dead money over the next two seasons, while no other NFL team was willing to take on Leatherwood’s contract. Similarly, rival clubs won’t be lining up to absorb Leatherwood’s deal via a waiver claim, but he should receive interest once he clears waivers and hits the open market.
— Dallas Robinson
Alex Leatherwood potential landing spots
Leatherwood always had potential, but a few key technical flaws made it so he couldn’t simply win on the edge with his natural physical talent at the NFL level. To this point in his pro career, he’s struggled mightily to fix those issues. However, there will be no shortage of teams looking to bring him in as a reclamation project.
The Dallas Cowboys are one contender that comes to mind. Tyron Smith will most likely miss the entire season. While it appears Tyler Smith will start at left tackle, the Cowboys desperately need to find some depth at the position, as last season’s fifth-round pick Josh Ball has shown very little to bring confidence to that situation.
Maybe the Los Angeles Chargers could look to stash Leatherwood as a fourth tackle and try to develop the 2021 first-round pick. Storm Norton has already proven himself a below replacement-level player, and Trey Pipkins is in the final year of his deal.
The Denver Broncos could look to bring Leatherwood in under similar circumstances, as their right tackle situation does not bode well long term. Leatherwood’s story is not at its end, but he must undergo significant improvement if he’s to realize his potential.
— Dalton Miller