Raiders release WR Henry Ruggs III after deadly DUI charge

Henry Ruggs III has much, much more serious things to worry about, but he is now a man without a team.

The Las Vegas Raiders announced late Tuesday they had released the former first-round wide receiver, less than 24 hours after he was charged with DUI after a fiery two-car accident that left one woman dead.

The Raiders initially reacted to news of the crash with a statement saying they were still gathering information, but the team apparently learned enough to feel comfortable cutting ties with the 12th overall pick of the 2020 NFL draft.

The move marks the end of a two-year tenure in Las Vegas for Ruggs. He was on his way to a breakout year in 2021. Not anymore.

Las Vegas police: Ruggs was impaired during fatal crash

According to the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, Ruggs will be charged with DUI resulting in death after a fatal car crash early Tuesday morning.

In a statement, the police alleged that Ruggs showed signs of impairment after they found him at the scene of a collision with a deceased victim in the other car, which was on fire:

"On November 2, at approximately 3:39 a.m., the LVMPD responded to a traffic collision near the intersection of South Rainbow Boulevard and South Spring Valley Parkway, involving a Chevrolet Corvette and a Toyota Rav4. Responding officers located the Toyota on fire. Fire department personnel responded and located a deceased victim inside the Toyota. The preliminary investigation indicates the front of the Chevrolet collided with the rear of the Toyota. The driver of the Chevrolet, identified as 22-year-old Henry Rugs III, remained on scene and showed signs of impairment. He was transported to UMC hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Ruggs will be charged with DUI resulting in death. This is an on-going investigation."

The Associated Press reported Ruggs had a female passenger in his car as well, who was injured and transported in the hospital. Both she and the deceased driver of the other car have not yet been identified.

Henry Ruggs III facing 2 to 20 years in prison

A group of veteran defense attorneys have told Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel that Ruggs is facing serious legal repercussions. A DUI resulting in death charge carries a prison sentence of 2 to 20 years:

“He is in serious trouble,” said Chris Scott, a former prosecutor and now defense attorney for the Christopher Scott Law Offices in Kansas City, Missouri. Scott has prosecuted and defended scores of DUI cases. “That does not mean he is guilty. He has the presumption of innocence, but based on what is out there, he is in serious trouble and faces a lot of exposure.”

“Based on what we know right now, the situation is not good,” said Craig Mordock of Mordock Legal in New Orleans, where he has defended nearly 1,000 DUI cases including numerous that involved “negligent homicide” charges.

Per the attorneys, the circumstances of the crash, as described by the Las Vegas police, seem especially bad for the 22-year-old Ruggs. The force of the crash was strong enough to cause a fire, implying that Ruggs would have been traveling at a high speed. The cause of death for the other driver is clear, which could eliminate potential defenses for the player (e.g. claiming the other driver wasn't wearing a seat belt).

Ruggs had 2 years left on contract

At the time of his release, Ruggs had two years and more than $5 million remaining in salary after this season on his four-year, $16.7 million rookie contract, plus a fifth-year option for the 2024 season.

Rookie contracts for first-round picks like Ruggs have fully guaranteed base salaries, though those guarantees may be voidable if Ruggs is convicted of a crime.