When the Las Vegas Raiders drafted DT Maurice Hurst in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, there weren't any major expectations attached to him. After all, it's not every day that a fifth-round draft pick goes on to become a well-respected, everyday NFL player.
Fast forward three seasons later and Hurst was a mainstay on the Raiders' defense. Unfortunately, that experience was short-lived as NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported on Thursday that the Raiders have released Hurts. The decision to release the fourth-year defensive tackle is nothing short of baffling.
In 40 games with the Raiders since 2018, Hurst recorded 76 total tackles, 8 sacks, 7 passes defended, a forced fumble and an interception. Hurst also earned a 77.9 ProFootballFocus grade last season. To show impressive he really was, his 78.5 PFF pass-rush grade was in the top 15 among all qualified defensive tackles in 2020.
It's not hard to see the Raiders regretting this decision. Hurst was still on his rookie contract and it's not every day that a team can find a player of that caliber for his value. There's now a gaping hole on the Raiders' defense that they're going to have to address either through the draft or free agency.
Overall, the move may work out for Hurst in the end. He'll be able to sign with a team that actually wants him and may wind up paying him more than he was scheduled to make in 2021.
But other than clearing up about $4.5 million in cap space, it's hard to see how this benefits Las Vegas.
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