ALAMEDA (AP) — The Oakland Raiders released cornerback Sean Smith and right tackle Marshall Newhouse on Monday to create more salary cap room heading into free agency.
The Raiders also officially announced the signing of defensive tackle Justin Ellis to a three-year contract and signed receiver Griff Whalen to a one-year deal. Ellis had agreed to the deal last week to stay off the free-agent market but it was not announced until Monday.
Smith is also facing legal problems. He will plead guilty Tuesday to a felony count of assault with great bodily injury in connection with an altercation in Pasadena last year, according to the attorney for the alleged victim.
Smith was accused of assaulting his sister’s then-boyfriend, Christopher Woods, on July 4. Two witnesses testified during a preliminary hearing in December that Smith stomped Woods’ head as he lay bleeding and unconscious.
Smith will be sentenced to one year in jail and five years of probation in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Attorney Jonathan Dennis said Woods “felt the sentence, obviously, was not as strict as it should have been, but he’s pleased he’s admitting guilt.”
Smith was signed as a big-ticket free agent in 2016 to a four-year, $38 million deal. But he never played up to that level and the Raiders have decided to cut him instead of paying him $8.5 million this year.
Smith got benched in his first game with the Raiders after getting burned by New Orleans’ Brandin Cooks for a 98-yard touchdown. He allowed opposing quarterbacks to post a 116.5 passer rating when targeting him in 2016, according to SportRadar.
Smith struggled again early in 2017 and was replaced in the starting lineup by TJ Carrie, before finishing the season strong after John Pagano replaced fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. for the final six games.
Smith allowed just 15 catches on 27 targets for 202 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions over the final six games for a passer rating of 64.1 as Pagano better took advantage of Smith’s size and strength. That was down from a 113.3 rating in his one-plus season under Norton.
Oakland will again seek to bolster the secondary in free agency, looking for a starter at cornerback to pair with last year’s first-round pick Gareon Conley.
Carrie is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent Wednesday and is free to talk to potential suitors this week.
Newhouse started 14 games last season for the Raiders but new coach Jon Gruden said at the combine that the play at right tackle last season was inconsistent.
Ellis was originally a fourth-round pick by Oakland in 2014. He has started 41 of the 60 games he has played in during four seasons with the Raiders and is strong against the run.
Whalen has played 43 games over six seasons in the NFL. He has 51 catches for 532 yards and three touchdowns. He also has 47 punt returns for 378 yards and 29 kickoff returns for 701 yards.