The Oakland Raiders have had an incredibly busy offseason and yet we are still almost a full month away from the NFL Draft. While there will be plenty of draft talk to come in the lead up to the offseason’s most popular event, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on what’s been a whirlwind offseason for the Raiders already.
And since it’s the offseason and the reality of the matter is, we have no idea how all of these moves will work out yet, why not add another offseason trope to the whole “way too early” evaluation of teams and actually give out some grades. Because after all, if the offseason isn’t prime time for speculation then what is?
HIRING OF JON GRUDEN/FIRING OF JACK DEL RIO - GRADE: A
Unlike some, I do not think that Jon Gruden is the second coming of Jesus. There are many out there who feel like the Raiders are guaranteed to do great things because Gruden is there. I am not one of those. I feel like Gruden is a good but not great coach and don’t fully understand those in the Church of Gruden who think he is Belichick-esque.
That being said, I do think that Gruden, and more importantly his staff, are a massive upgrade over Jack Del Rio and his staff. And since Mark Davis has said that he might not have fired Del Rio if Gruden hadn’t agreed to come back, it would appear that this is the best way the scenario could have played out. Because if we’re being real here, we all know that this team was going nowhere fast under JDR. Maybe Gruden isn’t great, but he sure is a whole lot better than another year under Del Rio.
FREE AGENCY - GRADE: B -
Overall, the Raiders had a solid free agency. I know many fans were hoping for blockbuster signings of big, household names, but given the cap situation and the need to re-sign Khalil Mack, that was never a realistic expectation. But plugging holes with second tier free agents was always what was going to happen. So we will take a look at free agency through that lens rather than the lens of someone thinking they should have signed big names.
But before we get to the signings, let’s talk a little bit about who they let walk. Personally, I would have kept Denico Autry over Justin Ellis and would have kept T.J. Carrie around to play the nickel corner position that as of now, is a massive question mark for the Raiders. They did keep Ellis and have an offer on the table for Navorro Bowman.
The team added three guys who are likely to be starters right away in Marcus Gilchrist, Tahir Whitehead and Rashaan Melvin. None of these guys are marquee players but they all represent upgrades to a defensive roster desperately in need of an upgrade. The team also added some depth with guys like Tank Carradine and a new starter on offense in Jordy Nelson. And if it turns out the Raiders are getting the Nelson of old, then this grade should be an A+, but I’m not entirely sold on the idea that they are.
And then there are the signings that I really don’t like. Both Shareece Wright and Doug Martin are guys who should consider themselves lucky if they are able to make an NFL roster this year. Neither has many redeeming qualities and both look like they are more prone to be a liability than an asset.
Overall, the Raiders have had a solid offseason to date, but obviously, what happens in the NFL Draft will play a big role in how we look at the offseason once the team is in training camp. But worry not, I am sure we will find time to look back at the offseason including the draft a little bit later.