On the 27th of march 2017 at a sitting of the NFL owners, the Raiders were officially given permission to relocate to Las Vegas. This was to be a fresh start for the franchise with the move officially happening in 2020. One year later, it was announced that Jon Gruden would become the Raiders new head coach for the foreseeable future, after signing a 10 year $100 million contract. With a sprinkling of league stars already in the roster, Gruden had an opportunity to mould the franchise into a Superbowl winning one. What could possibly go wrong?
Well we are one year into the Gruden era and future is looker a lot darker. The 2018 off-season was where Gruden began to put his stamp on the team. If you followed football last year, you will know that the Raiders traded away not only their best defensive player but one of the best in the league (if not the best) to the Chicago Bears. If you didn’t follow football, you still might know it as it was a head scratcher. In return, Oakland received 2 first round picks (2019, 2020), a 3rd round pick (2020) and a 6th round pick (2019). A large return but for the Raiders to give up a player who they know is one of the best defenders in the league it was bizarre. To make matters worse, only weeks later Gruden stated in an interview pass rushers were hard to find.
On offence, the most noteworthy trade made was with the Dallas Cowboys when they exchanged Amari Cooper for a first round pick in the 2019 draft. At the time , it was perceived as a great bit of business by the Raiders to get a first round pick. However, Cooper has excelled in Dallas, thus the question could be asked whether he was being used correctly in Oakland. Potential over talent can be the destroying formula of a lot of teams.
The Raiders finished the season with 4 wins. There had been accusations by some that the Raiders had intentionally tanked the season in order to gain a good first round pick. If this is true, it didn’t work perfectly as they will pick 4th in the 2019 NFL draft. The low point of the season was being humiliated by the San Francisco 49ers and their rookie QB Nick Mullens in his NFL debut. Really there isn’t much positives to take from the season. After Donald Penn got injured on the 30th of September and had to sit out the year, the Raiders pass defence became a real issue. As stated above, the Raiders lacked a pass rusher who could trouble opposing quarterbacks. In truth, the Raiders lack a defence.
There were off field issues too. On the 10th of December, General Manager of the Raiders Reggie McKenzie was fired. Reports of friction between McKenzie and Gruden circulated in the media. McKenzie was later replaced by Mike Mayock who was employed by the NFL network as a draft analyst, no previous GM experience. The day after McKenzie was fired, Oakland City sued the Raiders for antitrust violations and breach of contract. This lead to the Raiders pulling the existing deal to play in Oakland in 2019. The Raiders still do not have a home for the 2019 season.
The best way to summarise the Raiders year is to look at what they have versus what they have lost. At the beginning of 2020, they will have a new stadium in Las Vegas. This has not changed. However, they no longer have a home stadium to play in in 2019. They have a new GM with no experience. They have a coach who they have signed for the next 9 years. They have a franchise quarterback who is yet to prove his worth. Three first round picks this year and two next year. Of course, they also could trade Derek Carr or Donald Penn for more draft picks. Because it’s all about those draft picks. And not to forget, they are struggling to find some pass rushers. So all in all, 2019 season will be rough and by the time the moving vans pull up in 2020, there could be very little of a franchise left.