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.