Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders are the definition of insane. Literally everything they’ve done since giving Gruden his crazy $100 million contract has made absolutely no logical sense. The final weekend before the NFL season was, if anything, even crazier and more ridiculous.
On Saturday the Raiders traded Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears. The franchise’s best player and one of the top five defenders in the NFL was shipped out because of a lengthy contract dispute. The Bears sent the Raiders two first-round picks, a third and a sixth for Mack. Oakland also sent Chicago a second-rounder in 2020 and a conditional fifth-rounder, because it wouldn’t be a move by the Raiders if something in it didn’t make your cerebrum ache.
This deal stinks even if the Raiders didn’t want to pay Mack. The Bears made their new edge rusher the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, giving him $90 million guaranteed on his six-year, $141 million extension. I completely get balking at that price, but do we really trust the Raiders to hit home runs with those first-round picks? Their draft history isn’t exactly illustrious. Plus, why is Oakland giving up picks in this deal? If the Raiders are dumping their best player, shouldn’t they be hoarding high picks to rebuild the defense?
Let’s not forget the fact that Mack is an All-Pro pass rusher and 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year in an era where pass rushing has never been more important. Please, somebody, explain this out for me, I’m begging you.
Last offseason, Oakland handed Derek Carr a massive five-year, $125 million extension with $70 million in total guarantees. When a franchise does that, it’s clear the decision-makers believe their team will compete. The Raiders didn’t, going 6-10 while Carr struggled with injuries. Now they’ve sold off their best player who happened to be wildly popular in the locker room and managed to give up a second-rounder in the process. Brilliant!
But forget the Mack trade, at least that can be defended if you believe Oakland will knock the next two drafts out of the park. (Pause for laughter) The rest of the moves from the weekend might have been even worse.
On the first day of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Raiders shocked everyone when they sent a third-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for oft-suspended receiver Martavis Bryant. Bryant has always been wildly talented, but he missed the entire 2016 season for a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. It was his second suspension.
For some reason, the Raiders decided to give up a third-rounder for a guy they probably could have gotten for free eventually. Still, if Bryant ever realized his potential, he had the talent to be an absolute monster. So hey, maybe Oakland was being crazy like a fox–what’s that? The Raiders they cut Bryant on Saturday? Right, because of course they did.
Yes, the Raiders essentially handed the Steelers the 79th pick in this year’s draft and wound up getting absolutely nothing in return, as Bryant is now gone. He is reportedly facing another drug suspension and his career may be toast. Another brilliant move.
Just to be clear, someone is actually getting paid to make these decisions for the Raiders.
The last trash move of the weekend was what the Raiders did with their quarterbacks on cut-down day. The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman thinks this is the least offensive thing they did over the weekend, I disagree.
E.J. Manuel actually looked pretty good in the preseason. He completed 71.4 percent of his passes, led a few touchdown drives and didn’t throw an interception. He was basically exactly what you want out of a backup quarterback. Apparently that wasn’t enough.
The Raiders’ new backup opened the offseason as the likely starter in Buffalo but played himself right out of that spot. He signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Bills in March and was lapped by both Nathan Peterman and rookie Josh Allen this summer.I get that Allen has a ton of natural talent, but it’s clear he’s not ready to start in the NFL. Meanwhile, this was Peterman’s most memorable contribution to football history:
McCarron couldn’t beat those guys out and the Raiders decided to give up an actual draft asset for him. Nice job guys.
As Sherman rightly pointed out, if Carr gets hurt again he’ll be replaced by a guy who has been learning the playbook since Sunday.
As the Raiders finalized their team on Monday, there are a whopping 31 players who did not appear on their 53-man roster at any point last season.
The Raiders wanted to stir the pot and make headlines when they hired Jon Gruden and changed things up. Since then they’ve been wildly entertaining, just not for the reasons they’d hoped.