The Oakland Raiders have been making headlines ever since Jon Gruden signed on for 100 million dollars.
Some examples below:
- Traded their All-Pro Defensive End, Khalil Mack, for two 1st round picks
- Replaced general manager Reggie McKenzie with NFL Network’s Mike Mayock
- Traded their Pro Bowl Wide Receiver, Amari Cooper for a 1st round pick
- Traded their 3rd and 5th pick in the NFL Draft for Antonio Brown
- Signed free agents Richie Incognito and Vontaze Burfict
- Finished last season 4-12
- Chosen for HBO’S Hardknocks
On the surface, it looks like the Raiders are all over the place, but there is a method to their madness. Trading Mack and Cooper was a hard pill to swallow, but management knew the Raiders were in no position to contend last year. Rather than commit all that money to Mack and Cooper, they supercharged a rebuild with extra picks, and spread that cap space across multiple needs. After the draft concluded, shortsighted twitter GM’s were quick to mock the Raiders. They reduced those trades to just Mack and Cooper for Josh Jacobs and Johnathan Abrams and neglected the fact that the money the Raiders would’ve had to spend on those two, now went to guys like Lamarcus Joyner, Tyrell Williams and Trent Brown.
I’m not sure if I would’ve had the guts to trade Khalil Mack, but I can see why they did it. They used that money to revamp nearly every position group on their roster. The wide receiver, running back, offensive line, safety, linebacker and defensive end groups all got an influx of new talent. Will it translate to more wins this year? I’m actually not so sure. A lot will depend on what kind of immediate impact the free-agent and draft class can have. Then there’s the schedule…. I don’t know which schedule maker the Raiders pissed off, but just take a look at how they start the season:
Week 1 VS Denver
Week 2 VS Kansas City
Week 3 @Minnesota
Week 4 @Indianapolis
Week 5 VS Chicago (London Game)
Week 6 Bye Week
Week 7 @Green Bay
Week 8 @Houston
Wow……The Raiders won’t play a game in Oakland for 7 weeks. In that same span, they will face Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Von Miller, JJ Watt, and Khalil Mack. Those are all players most would rank in the top 25-30 in the entire NFL, absolutely brutal. If they can somehow come out of that gauntlet around .500, they could possibly make the playoffs.
They’ll also need some of the young guys to develop fast and John Gruden to gel this thing together, but who knows? That’s a lot of dominoes that need to fall in place, so my bet is on another losing season for the Raiders. But there will be signs of hope. Derek Carr will be more comfortable in the offence in year 2 and the schedule gets “easier” towards the end of the year. The offence should be explosive and fun to watch and the defense has some young guys and wily vets with a good coordinator in Paul Guenther.
Now, if you look at the situation in the long-term, its more promising. All of their young guys will benefit from going up against great competition all year and the front office will be able to evaluate which vets are worth keeping. Add in another offseason in which they’ll have 2 first round picks and somewhere around 35-40 million in cap space, and they’ll be ready to make some noise just in time for their move to Sin City. They might need to send some flowers to the NFL schedule makers though, just in case.