Cooper, facing steroid suspension, let go by Raiders
Six-year veteran safety Jarrod Cooper, suspended for the first four games of the season by the league last week for a violation of the NFL's steroid policy, has been released by the Oakland Raiders at the outset of training camp.
The move could end the career of the former Kansas State standout, who was regarded as one of the NFL's best special teams players, but whose tenure in the league has been marked by a series of off-field problems.
Cooper, 29, becomes the latest player to be released by a team this spring or summer after league sanctions were levied against him. In previous seasons, because of the collective bargaining agreement, franchises were all but precluded from releasing such players. But the new personal conduct policy appears to give teams increased latitude in that regard, and the NFL Players Association has not challenged any of the moves.
The suspension last week was the second four-game sanction of Cooper's career. In 2003, while with the Carolina Panthers, he was suspended four games and docked six game checks after a second incident in which he was charged with driving while impaired. The Panthers released Cooper in the spring of 2004 after he was accused of providing false information to a police officer.
Under terms of his most recent suspension, Cooper would have forfeited $270,588 of his scheduled base salary of $1.15 million for 2007, but would have been permitted to report to camp and play through the preseason before sitting out four games. But first-year coach Lane Kiffin apparently decided he didn't want Cooper in camp when the Raiders' players report on Thursday.
A fifth-round pick in the 2001 draft, Cooper has appeared in 81 games. He has 126 tackles, three passes defensed, two forced fumbles, two recoveries and 1½ sacks on defense. On special teams, Cooper has posted 70-plus tackles. During his three seasons in Oakland, he was used primarily on the kick coverage units and in some dime coverage packages.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.