With a rumor that the Chicago Bears may be looking to trade Khalil Mack, it made me ponder who on the Raiders do I consider to be untradeable. Who is so essential to this team that I would see a trade as being a sign that the team is about to start a rebuild.
Obviously, I felt that way about Khalil Mack. And as it turns out, it did signal a rebuild. Luckily, the rebuild is going pretty well so far. But now that the Raiders are headed in the right direction, it begs the question of who now falls into that Khalil Mack territory when it comes to trades.
Here are the guys who I believe are building blocks to this rebuild and are therefore untradeable unless we want to take a major step backwards in the rebuild process.
Might as well get the most obvious one out of the way first. Jacobs is a beast who was a top 5 running back in the NFL as a rookie. He is already a major part of the identity of this team and to trade him would signal bad things for where the franchise is at. Given what he’s already shown along with the potential he hasn’t even reached yet, Jacobs is a huge key to the future success of the Raiders.
Youth is key to a rebuild for a couple of reasons. First, because it takes time and you want guys who will be with the team through the bad years and into the good. But also because they are cheap and often need time to develop anyway. Crosby has already developed far quicker than expected and you can feel greatness in his future. Add to that the fact that he plays one of the most important positions in football and you get an untradeable asset.
Most wouldn’t consider tight end to be one of the more important positions in football. But when you have an elite talent like Waller, you hang on to him regardless of what position he plays. The Raiders struck gold with Waller who had a huge year. And he did it while getting the lion’s share of attention from opposing defenses who didn’t respect the other weapons in the passing game. Once the Raiders bolster the wide receiver group, Waller has the chance to do even more damage and get into the discussion for best tight end in the NFL. Im my opinion, you just don’t trade an elite talent like Waller.
I know many will likely disagree with me on this one, but to me, Hudson is an absolutely critical piece to this Raiders team. He is one of the best centers in the league and has been for years. He’s been one of the best despite switching teams and blocking schemes. As the Raiders went through ups and downs over the past few years, the one stable force was Hudson. While everyone else had periods of time where they struggled, Hudson did nothing but play extremely well. Center is important for continuity sake because of his relationship with the quarterback and his responsibility for calling out blocking assignments for the rest of the offensive line. You’d be hard pressed to find a guy better or more consistent than Hudson and center isn’t a place you want to be shuffling guys in and out as you try to find a replacement.
Probably another one people will disagree with me on. But for me, the offensive and defensive lines are the two most important position groups on an NFL team. Even great quarterbacks have a hard time when their offensive line can’t protect them. The difference in pass protection from 2018 to 2019 thanks to Trent Brown was nothing short of remarkable. Now that the team has finally fixed a position that has plagued them for years, they can’t go back into the abyss at right tackle, especially in a division with so many pass rushers on that side of the ball.
So we had three guys that I view as untradeable because of a combination of greatness and youth. Jacobs, Crosby and Waller are all young players who have already done great things while only scratching the surface of their potential. If things go right, all three will hit their prime as the team is ready to compete for a Super Bowl and hopefully end up being a reason why this franchise is competitive for a long period of time.
Then we have two guys who are great, but not that young. However, despite being older, they’re still crucial to this rebuild because of their positional importance. Hudson is the cornerstone of a great offensive line and Brown has made a huge difference for the Raiders pass protection. I’m a believer in building through your lines first and so getting rid of one of the two most important offensive linemen would signal bad things for this Raiders offense.