- John Clayton, NFL senior writer
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Angered by the Raiders' 2-6 start, Davis asked his front-office staff to explore the possibility of releasing several players. By releasing Hall, who was acquired from Atlanta before this season, the Raiders are washing their hands of a seven-year, $72 million contract after only eight games.
"I've never been in a situation where you cut one of the best players," said safety Gibril Wilson, another of the team's offseason acquisitions. "That's strange to me. It's almost like we're throwing in the towel."
Hall was paid $8 million for eight games; he received a $7 million signing bonus and a $1 million base salary. Because he's a vested veteran, his $1 million salary is guaranteed. Atlanta received second- and fifth-round draft picks in the trade with Oakland.
According to a source, the Raiders asked Hall if he would consider restructuring his contract. Hall declined and then was notified of his release. Oakland is expected to make an announcement prior to practice Wednesday.
The Raiders are not expected to make additional roster moves before Thursday.
Hall was supposed to form one of the top cornerback duos in the league with Nnamdi Asomugha but struggled from the start of the season as he adjusted to the Raiders' man-to-man defense.
Hall had shown signs of improvement in recent weeks, but Raiders management began examining the roster Monday, a day after the team's embarrassing 24-0 loss to the Falcons. Davis, looking ahead to the rest of the season and to 2009, asked his staff to study a list of potential players who could be let go before the end of the week or after the season, sources said.
One source said the list included more than a dozen names. The front-office staff studied the salary-cap consequences of releasing high-priced veteran players. Davis also wanted his staff to see if other teams might claim any of these players on waivers.
Also under consideration to be let go is wide receiver Javon Walker, who received an $11 million signing bonus and a $1 million base salary this year but has only 13 catches in his first seven games. The other players on Davis' list are unknown.
"I'm obviously disappointed," Asomugha said. "I don't agree with what happened. I don't agree with what's going on. But I am just a player so I can't speak on it. I don't make the decisions. All I can do is play but I don't agree with what happened at all."
Asomugha said the recent moves have led to some players being tentative on the field, afraid that they could be next to lose their starting job or spot on the team.
"There's been some things that have been going on, some shakeups, that I haven't agreed with," Asomugha said. "Like I said, I'm not allowed to speak on it because we're just supposed to shut up and play. But you ask me if I agree with it? I don't agree with it."
At his Monday news conference, interim Raiders coach Tom Cable said he was thinking of making more changes in the starting lineup. Since taking over for Lane Kiffin, Cable has benched receiver Ronald Curry and safety Michael Huff.
"When you look at the consistency and the play and those sorts of things, it was just the decision we felt was right for this football team," Cable said. "We did not want to stay where we're at. Felt like that was very important that we don't do that, that we move forward and that was the decision that was made."
Hall does not have a skills guarantee for 2009, so the Raiders will not owe him a $9.05 million option bonus for the final six years of the deal. Hall also won't receive the $7.5 million base salary he was scheduled to make in 2009.
"When you're losing there's a lot of finger pointing," Asomugha said. "I don't think he's the one scapegoat. There's fingers pointed everywhere. I don't think it's just him. He was kind of singled out in regards of let's cut someone."
Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com. Information from ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, ESPN NFL reporter Michael Smith and The Associated Press was included in this report.
Oakland Raiders cornerback DeAngelo Hall was the first player released by team owner Al Davis on Wednesday, a move expected to trigger a major shakeup of the roster.