Not that Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders organization really need anyone to cut them any slack this offseason, but a bit of ‘All things considered...' would be a welcome change. That is something ESPN's Matt Williamson wasn't factoring in when he gave out his offseason grades Tuesday.
The Raiders were handed a "D" for their offseason efforts. In Williamson's efforts to explain himself, he had this to say:
Key FA additions: CB Ron Bartell, CB Shawntae Spencer, G Mike Brisiel, DE Dave Tollefson, RBMike Goodson, LB Philip Wheeler, QB Matt Leinart
Key FA losses: DE Kamerion Wimbley, CB Stanford Routt, TB Michael Bush, DT John Henderson, QB Jason Campbell, TE Kevin Boss, C Samson Satele, DE Trevor Scott, G Cooper Carlisle, T Stephon Heyer, WR Chaz Schilens
Analysis: The Raiders' new regime under general manager Reggie McKenzie was dealt a rough hand. Not only did it lack draft picks from the Palmer trade, but this staff had to get out from under several poor contracts and had next to nothing to spend in free agency. To be fair, it's difficult to put a true grade on the Raiders' offseason. In one respect, I feel as if this new staff did a tremendous job considering its brutal circumstances.
But if you just judge what the Raiders did to get better versus what the rest of the league did to improve through free agency and the draft, Oakland's grade would be among the league's worst.
Let me start off by saying his last statement here is very true. On paper, the Raiders did not improve as much as the majority of the NFL teams. However, there are a few issues I have with his logic.
As Williamson said, the Raiders had no top draft picks and needed to shed some big contracts just to meet the cap, let alone have any spending money to attract any big name free agents.
So really his grade is based upon moves made last year and last offseason. That is when the draft picks were traded away and that is when the big contracts were drawn up that put the Raiders in their current financial bind.
The grade should come from what this new regime has done with the hand they were dealt. They didn't fold, they played it very wisely. The funny thing is, Williamson says just that immediately following his reasoning for the Raiders' low grade.
Oakland got fine value in every one of its key additions. Each of those players except Leinart should contribute in some way immediately...
This roster saw a lot of talent walk away, and Oakland was unable to replenish its young nucleus via the draft without picks in the first two rounds. In the big picture, the right steps were taken for the Raiders to position themselves to improve going forward, but this could be a rough season for the silver and black.
As Williamson said "the right steps were taken... to improve going forward." Which, again, sounds like he gives them a passing grade for their offseason. But, in actuality, it continues to show his grade is not based upon the current Raiders offseason but rather the actions taken last year. He has also managed to change the grade to mean how good he thinks the Raiders will be this season. But this is supposed to be a grade of their OFFSEASON.
Don't get me wrong, I could care less if the Raiders are given a poor grade or ranking by anyone. But the reasoning should be sound. And this one isn't. Williamson completely loses focus on the purpose of an offseason grade. It is about smart moves, not big moves.
The moves the Raiders made were to plan for the future while bridging the gap with low-risk/high-reward players like Ron Bartell, Phillip Wheeler, and Mike Brisiel. And they did it with very little money to spend. It is a miracle they were able to add any decent free agents at all.
I don't think it's "hating" on the Raiders. It's just lazy. Well, that and getting the largest fanbase in football all worked up is great for business.