What are Raiders' most significant moves of offseason?
ALAMEDA - Thus concludes the most important offseason in the history of a storied franchise.
When coach Jon Gruden canceled Thursday's final practice of the Raiders' mandatory mimicamp, players went their separate ways until training camp convenes on July 26 at the Napa Valley Marriott.
The roster bears little resemblance to the one that left the field in a 35-3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last Dec. 30 to finish 4-12. A team that couldn't move the ball consistently on offense and gave up a franchise-record 467 points with just 13 sacks on defense has undergone the most dramatic and talked about overhaul in the NFL.
Gruden and new general manager Mike Mayock, under authorization by owner Mark Davis, were on the attack from the outset. They brought in big-ticket veterans in their prime such as wide receiver Antonio Brown, wide receiver Tyrell Williams, right tackle Trent Brown and slot corner LaMarcus Joyner at a combined cost of more than $109 million in guaranteed money.
The draft, bolstered by last season's trades of Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, added three first-round draft picks that are expected to contribute immediately, plus other picks that could quickly be in the mix for playing time.
The Raiders stayed healthy throughout the offseason other than losing running back Isaiah Crowell to a torn Achilles. They acted quickly, bringing back Doug Martin, who had a bounce-back year in 2018.
A look at the eight most significant developments of the Raiders' offseason:
1. Hiring Mayock
Much of what happened in terms of personnel is because of the out-of-the-box decision to bring in the longtime NFL Network draft expert to replace Reggie McKenzie. He and Gruden share a lot of beliefs, but it appears as though Mayock can counterbalance the coach's impulsive nature and help steer him away from past-their-prime veterans in favor of youth and speed.
The Antonio Brown deal, in particular, had Mayock written all over it. He was adamant about not giving up a draft pick this season in the first two rounds and ended up getting the most productive receiver in the NFL for third and a fifth.
The Raiders should be much better in 2019. They'd almost have to be, so there exists a possibility for an immediate payoff. In the longterm, Mayock also helped rebuild the scouting department with hires such as Jim Abrams (college scouting) and Dwayne Joseph (pro personnel). The Joseph hire, in particular, was looked at with envy in some NFL circles.
2. Trading for Brown
The biggest splash of the offseason was the Raiders' acquisition of Brown, whose six-year run of production is on par with anything Jerry Rice did over a similar span.
Brown's sometimes-puzzling behavior isn't everyone's cup of tea. He wore out his welcome with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Brown has four qualities Gruden loves. He produces on the practice field and meeting rooms. He produces on game day. He has an insatiable thirst to get better. He's durable and always answers the call.
However it went down in Pittsburgh, Brown signing with the Raiders had a ripple effect. Along with the considerable dollars Davis was willing to invest, it made wearing silver and black an intriguing destination for the likes of Trent Brown, Williams and Joyner to come aboard as unrestricted free agents.
3. The draft haul
The pick of Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 overall wasn't well received by draft analysts and pundits, with the feeling he could have been had later. But the Raiders believe he is everything they want in an end who can pressure the pocket and stop the run. Plus, by all accounts Ferrell is off the charts in terms of leadership and character.
It doesn't help he'll be compared to Mack, a No. 5 pick in 2014. If Ferrell doesn't produce in a big way (keep in mind, Mack had just four sacks as a rookie) the Raiders will continue to get bashed for letting one of the top defensive talents in the league get away over a contract standoff.
Should Josh Jacobs blossom into a 1,200-yard runner and Johnathan Abrams as a force in the secondary, it would go a long way toward public perception being changed with regard to the trades of Mack and Cooper.
Second-round pick Trayvon Mullen, a cornerback, and Maxx Crosby, an edge rusher, could also figure prominently sooner rather than later.
4. A schedule gut punch
The Raiders' biggest impediment to going from 4-12 to .500 and beyond was provided by the NFL on April 18 with the release of the 2019 schedule. The Raiders already had the most difficult schedule in terms of the 2018 winning percentage of their opponents at .539.
Then came the news that after opening at home against Denver and Kansas City, with the Chiefs on Sept. 15, the Raiders won't play at the Coliseum until Nov. 2. They play at Minnesota in Week 3, Indianapolis in Week 4, then travel from Indianapolis to London to face Mack and the Chicago Bears in Week 5.