The 1-5 Raiders haven’t given their fans much to cheer about this season. After jettisoning star pass rusher Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears following a tumultuous holdout, the Raiders have struggled mightily out of the gates in 2018. While ‘Raider Nation’ doesn’t have much to look forward to for the remainder of this year, the front office executed a move few thought would be possible.
— NFL (@NFL) October 15, 2018
Twitter had its fun at the expense of Oakland’s head coach and pseudo-GM Jon Gruden. It’s only fair to doubt the managerial acumen of a man that has consistently pointed out how difficult it is to find pass rushers in the NFL after trading away arguably the best pass rusher in the NFL. A first-round pick for Amari Cooper? What team would be desperate enough to shell out a premium draft selection for a player that has been wildly inconsistent, plagued by drops, and has totaled just 960 yards over his last 20 games?
All it takes is one team to make a dumb move, and Jerry Jones couldn’t help himself. After losing a nail-biter to Jon’s brother, Jay Gruden, and the Washington Redskins, the 3-4 Dallas Cowboys inexplicably traded their 2019 first-round pick for the 24-year-old Cooper.
On the surface, Cooper is an instant boost to an anemic Cowboys offense. The former Alabama star is more talented than any Dallas receiver, and carries a strong pedigree after successfully making the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons. It’s a quintessential move by the impatient Jones. Cooper is a name that possesses big-time talent, but isn’t the answer for Dallas’ passing woes. Dak Prescott suffers from some of the same limitations that Cooper’s former QB, Derek Carr, has had troubles with. Neither quarterback has shown much willingness to drive the ball down field, and the Cowboys once-vaunted offensive line appears to be a shell of its former self. Still, Jones and the Cowboys believe Cooper’s talent will win out and finally deliver the No. 1 receiver the team has been in search for since the departure of the enigmatic Dez Bryant.
The now-tanking Raiders got exactly what they wanted. Now holding three first rounders for next year’s draft, Gruden will be able to mold the team to his liking. Additionally, it doesn’t feel like Oakland is done making moves. Carr’s monster contract makes him an unlikely trade candidate, but certain clauses in his contract that would allow the Raiders to cut the shaky QB and have minimal damage done to their cap situation makes for an intriguing story line. Would Gruden give up on a three-time Pro Bowler after just one season as Oakland’s coach? With their bevy of picks, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a signal-calling replacement in either of the next two draft classes.
Two other names that could be on the move for the Raiders are defensive backs Karl Joseph and Gareon Conley. Joseph has been mostly a disappointment in the Silver and Black. Lauded as a hard-hitting safety with solid coverage skills, Joseph has yet to record a single tackle in 2018. Conley dealt with legal issues and injuries for most of his rookie year, though his sophomore campaign hasn’t been much better. Most recently, Conley has lost snaps to the geriatric combo of Leon Hall and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (combined age of 65). Gruden is making one thing clear — if you’re one of Reggie McKenzie’s draft picks, you’re probably gone.
With the help of Jerry Jones, the Raiders look to forge their first winning streak of the season with the Colts coming to Oakland on Sunday.
Sources: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports, Twitter/RapSheet