Raiders release former first-round pick Johnathan Abram amid defensive struggles

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The Raiders declined to exercise the fifth-year option on safety Johnathan Abram before the 2022 NFL season. Now, halfway through the schedule, they’ve parted ways with the former first-round draft pick even sooner. Two days after blowing a 17-point lead for the third time this year, Las Vegas has outright released Abram, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones reports.

The 26-year-old Mississippi State product, drafted 27th overall by the Raiders’ previous regime in 2019, had been a full-time starter for the team up until recent weeks, when he saw a reduced role at the back end of the secondary . The hard-hitting veteran appeared on less than half of defensive snaps in Sunday’s loss to Jaguars, which dropped Las Vegas to 2-6 on the season.

Abram was on the final year of his rookie contract thanks to the Raiders declining the fifth-year option, so he would’ve entered 2023 free agency following the season. Now, he’ll have a head start on finding a new home. He was also speculated as a potential trade chip ahead of the NFL’s post-Week 8 trade deadline, and becomes just the latest early-round investment by former coach Jon Gruden and former general manager Mike Mayock to be exiled.

After missing all but one game due to injury as a rookie, Abram started 34 combined games for the Raiders, notably eclipsing 100 tackles in 2021 and logging a career-high two interceptions the year prior.

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