When we saw the Oakland Raiders sign Jon Gruden to a 10 year, 100 million dollar contract, the general consensus was that Oakland had no idea what they doing. Then with Gruden’s first decision he traded the Raiders best player, pass rushing specialist Khalil Mack to the Bears for 2 1st round picks, a 2nd & a 5th round pick in 2020. A move that looked clueless at the time. However as the 2019-20 season played out the Raiders defense combined ended up with 13 sacks a league low. Whereas Khalil Mack in Chicago had 12.5 sacks on his own only playing 14 games. The Bears became a playoff team and won the NFC North for the first time in 9 years. Oakland went 4-12, also trading along their #1 WR Amari Cooper to Dallas for a 1st round pick and their season became a wash. No centerpieces on defense, a decent offensive line and a good starting QB with no weapons on the outside. Not a good year one for the Gruden era.
Jon Gruden’s moves on the surfaced showed that he was way over his head, considering he has been out of coaching for over a decade. However, when you sign a 10 year deal, you have to play the long game. The Raiders are coming into this off-season with the most chess pieces at their disposal to turn the Silver & Black around. And with Free Agency on the horizon, they made a major splash is acquiring Steelers star WR Antonio Brown for a bargain price of a 3rd and 5th round pick. The deal for them to get Brown made the most sense since 1) The Raiders had over 60 million in cap space going into the off-season, so they had the money to afford Brown’s new deal. 2)Derek Carr didn’t have a #1 WR to throw to for most of the 2019 season and still ended up with over 4000 yards and a 93.9 QB rating despite his numbers not reflecting in the win column. Adding Antonio Brown who has been regarded as the best WR in football and has 6 straight seasons of 100 receptions or more should bring Derek Carr to his 2016 form.
Oakland made a big move without giving up any of their 3 1st round picks, and still having plenty of cap space to make more big moves. With Le’Veon Bell on the market and this being a loaded free agent class for Safeties, the Raiders are in prime position to make a quick turnaround. Football is the only sports besides baseball where you can go from worst to first with one solid off-season. They need to seriously address the defense on all levels. The Raiders had 17 less sacks than the 31st rank Superbowl Champion New England Patriots, and with this draft being set up to be the best defensive drafts of all time, the Raiders are good shapes to retool this defense that Khalil Mack’s departure left a cratering hole.
All the years of him being in the booth and with Mayock joining him with him in the front office after years being on NFL Network scouting NFL rookies, the Raiders turnaround could happen soon. Maybe Gruden knows more than what he shows on the surface and with all the ammo he still has in his war chest there’s no telling what is next for Oakland but with know Antonio Brown now happy and paid this is only the beginning the revival of good Raider football.