Jones-Drew retires, defensive end Woodley released by Raiders

Oct 12, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Maurice Jones-Drew (21) carries the ball against the San Diego Chargers at Coliseum. The Chargers defeated the Raiders 31-28. 

Kirby Lee/Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Two of the Oakland Raiders’ big free agent acquisitions from last season are no longer with the team.

Running back Maurice Jones-Drew announced his retirement Thursday and defensive end LaMarr Woodley was released by the team.

The two were brought in last March as general manager Reggie McKenzie targeted veterans to help rebuild the struggling organization. But many of those players failed to reach the Pro Bowl levels from their past and the Raiders won just three games last season.

Jones-Drew and Woodley were two of the biggest symbols of that failed strategy.

Jones-Drew was paid $2.5 million last season but only rushed for 96 yards on 43 carries in 12 games. It was a major disappointment for him and the team as he came into the season healthy and excited about his return to his native Bay Area.

But he was unable to get back to the level he had reached in Jacksonville earlier in his career when he ranked second in the NFL with 4,321 yards rushing in a three-year span from 2009-11.

The 29-year-old Jones-Drew had 1,313 yards in his final three seasons — fewer than he had in each of the previous three years.

"After much discussion with my family and business team during this offseason, I’ve decided to retire from the National Football League," Jones-Drew said in a statement released on his Twitter account. "The past nine years were absolutely amazing! I’ll be forever grateful to the countless people who have assisted me throughout my NFL journey. To my fans, and NFL fans worldwide, you are the absolute greatest! But for you, our league would not exist. Football has been a central part of my life for the past 24 years. But, now I’m excited about and looking forward to the next chapter of my life."

Woodley was paid more than $4.8 million last season when he had no sacks in six games before being sidelined by a season-ending biceps injury.

The moves save the Raiders about $7.7 million on this year’s salary cap. Oakland now has more than $60 million in cap space heading into free agency next week, second most in the NFL, according to the Website The Raiders can create even more room if they cut ties with backup quarterback Matt Schaub.