HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Las Vegas Raiders running back Kenyan Drake said Monday he was told by the team that it plans to release him.
The 28-year-old Drake had his best season in 2020 with Arizona, rushing for 955 yards and 10 touchdowns. He signed a two-year, $11 million contract with the Raiders last year, and rushed for 254 yards with 291 yards receiving. His 2021 campaign ended with a season-ending ankle injury in December.
Drake said in a phone interview with The Associated Press that general manager Dave Ziegler called him personally to let him know the team was moving on.
“He let me know how they were planning on moving forward, how really uncustomary it was for him to tell me himself, and that was just a testament to the respect he has for me as a player, and as a man,” Drake said.
In six seasons with three teams, Drake has rushed for 3,384 yards and 29 touchdowns.
Ziegler and first-year coach Josh McDaniels made it clear after the draft in April that the Raiders had options at running back, including Drake, returning starter Josh Jacobs, veterans Ameer Abdullah and Brandon Bolden, and rookies Zamir White and Brittain Brown.
“They had their guys. I mean, they drafted two running backs, they brought in two other running backs, all who I have admiration for. I have respect for their game. So I have nothing bad to say about the organization with how they decided to move,” Drake said. “I’ve been around this game for a while now, and I could just see myself being the odd man out. I feel like it just presents an opportunity for me to go to another team and continue to be the playmaker that I’ve always been.”
If Drake is released rather than traded, the Raiders would take an $8 million dead money hit on the salary cap with $3.6 million coming this year and the rest in 2023. Drake said Ziegler told him he would seek an immediate trade.
“If not within the next 24 hours, then for them to kind of just really move on from there, because I was gonna be released regardless,” Drake said. “I just know that regardless, somebody has to pay that contract, whether it is the Raiders or whether it’s the team that eventually picks me up. So pretty much I’ll be getting paid.”
Drake said he could be an asset to another team as a dual-threat back.
“I’m not really looking for any specific type of money, or opportunity specifically. I just want to be able to go out there and compete and help a team win games,” he said. “I’m a simple man. I’m not necessarily in the latter part of my career, but I’m not a second, or third-year player anymore.”
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