The 2017 NFL season was not what the Raider Nation wanted. Derek Carr didn’t break out, Khalil Mack didn’t get 30 sacks, and not only did the Oakland Raiders fall far, far short of a Super Bowl run, they didn’t even have a winning record. Carr regressed, Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu never got comfortable, and by the end of the year, head coach Jack Del Rio was gone. The post-season is still raging, but for the Raider Nation, the season is over. Fortunately, the off-season is right around the corner, and it looks to be a fun one.
The Oakland Raiders Are Set for a Fun Off-Season
The Chucky Effect
Jon Gruden is officially the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, and if his press conference was any indication, things are about to get wild. Gruden expressed a desire to improve, both fundamentally and with the roster. The man they call “Chucky” has been fantasizing about coaching for quite some time, and you have to believe he’s ready to go out and get some toys, especially on offense.
One of the biggest criticisms of Gruden as someone in charge of personnel is that he is too into instant gratification. Gruden is an impatient man that wants results right now, and that means he’s willing to go out and get what he wants, whatever it takes. While fortunately, he’ll be splitting personnel duties with general manager Reggie McKenzie, he will still have some say.
This sounds like Gruden hate, but it’s actually quite the opposite. The coach will likely push for more explosive, exciting players. Gruden has a new Carr, and while he’s stoked to go for a ride, don’t be surprised if he pimps his vehicle out a little, adding a dynamic receiver or a tight end to the fold. Speaking of which…
This seems like the off-season where under-performing Raiders will be released. Rumors are flying all over about the fates of Michael Crabtree, Sean Smith, Bruce Irvin, David Amerson, Marshawn Lynch, Marshall Newhouse, and Seth Roberts. While each of these men has had a moment or two wearing the Silver and Black, there’s no doubt they’ve received contracts they haven’t lived up to. If the Raiders were to release all of these men, they’d save around $40,637,500, giving them around $56,413,413 in cap space. Considering they’ll probably re-sign Mack to something similar to what Von Miller and J.J. Watt received, roughly $20 million a season, they’ll hit free agency with around $30 million to play with.
A couple of these Raiders might be back, namely Irvin, Lynch, or Roberts, but with Mack’s contract coming up, some guys have to go. And with Gruden’s Win Now attitude, they might go after a big name free agent, something they’ve been hesitant to do over the last few years.
If Crabtree is really on the way out, the Raiders will need another receiver, right? So how about Sammy Watkins? Taylor Gabriel? Allen Robinson? Jarvis Landry? Any one of these guys would be a nice addition to Amari Cooper and Cordarrelle Patterson.
There are also a ton of corners hitting the market. Kyle Fuller is an up-and-coming corner that finally had a breakout season with the Chicago Bears. Trumaine Johnson and Prince Amukamara are a couple of proven vets that could also play well across from Gareon Conley. It would be nice to see the Raiders keep T.J. Carrie, who has made a serious effort to improve recently.
And this is just a pipe dream, but it really seems like the Pittsburgh Steelers are refusing to give Le’Veon Bell a long-term contract. What if this was the year they let him hit free agency? And what if, the Oakland Raiders picked him up? The trio of Derek Carr, Le’Veon Bell, and Amari Cooper? That would be incredible.
Top Ten Pick
The positive thing about having a terrible season? Better draft positioning! The Oakland Raiders will pick inside the top ten, almost guaranteeing that the Raiders will either get a blue chip prospect or will be able to trade down for serious gains. A couple of trendy names linked to the Raiders are star linebacker Roquan Smith and defensive end, Bradley Chubb. Either man would make an immediate impact on Oakland’s defense. Not only do the Raiders pick inside the top ten of the first round, but every round after. That means that their second round pick is basically a first round pick and so on and so forth.
The last two times the Raiders picked inside the top ten? They came away with reigning defensive player of the year, Khalil Mack and superstar wide receiver, Amari Cooper. If the McKenzie magic keeps up, and they get another big name, the bad year could almost be a blessing in disguise. Imagine if the Raiders grabbed a pass rusher half as dynamic as Mack to build the defense around. Draft night is going to be a blast, Raider Nation.
The Silver (and Black) Lining
Next year, the Oakland Raiders are going to be a better football team. Even if they went in as they are right now, they would be a significantly better team. The old, broken coaching staff is gone, and a much better one has taken it’s place. Everyone’s going to be a little bit wiser and a whole lot healthier, and 2018 is going to be a good year. Add in the fact that we’re gearing up for one roller coaster of an off-season? And it’s a good time to be a Raiders fan.