For a team whose name derives imagery of pirates taking what they want, the Raiders have been the one’s getting plundered in 2018. That trend continued on Monday when Jon Gruden traded Amari Cooper to the Cowboys for a first round pick. While Gruden received great value in the deal, his lack of communication with the team afterwards is at the very least odd and at most inexcusable.
It should be no surprise that players in the Raiders locker room were upset Cooper was traded, calling the move a ‘knockout punch.’
Nobody was thrilled to see Cooper leave. But Gruden’s handling of the trade, pulling the wide receiver out of practice, and then declining to tell the team until Wednesday morning was an even bigger slap in the face according to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur.
When players returned to the locker room after practice and Cooper was nowhere to be found, they scrambled to their phones to see the news.
“I came in the locker room, just grabbed my phone,” Derek Carr replied when asked how he found out about the trade. “It was more of a feeling of, ‘Where’s Coop?’ Then you kind of just assume after that.”
“As soon as I got off the field I wanted to come grab him before he headed out, but he was already out and I got to my phone and he had already sent me this long text, just all the stuff that we would talk about,” Carr continued. “Honestly, just as a friend, just being in this business it was hard when I read it because not only is he a good player and all of those things, but you just want to spend more time with him.”
Gruden didn’t mention the trade during practice or in his address afterward, and wasn’t expected to do so until Wednesday morning at the next team meeting.
Running back Jalen Richard told reporters that the team didn’t find out from their head coach, but rather from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Instead of addressing the team, Gruden talked to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and expressed his excitement of having five first-round picks the next two years.
After facing backlash, Gruden defended his decision by arguing that he wasn’t sure the trade was official.
“Well nothing’s official,” Gruden told reporters on Wednesday. “I thought maybe I should find out for sure what was going on. I don’t even know if the trade is official yet, honestly. Look, there’s people working in the building when we’re out here on the practice field. We just don’t turn the lights off. I’m not going to get into anymore. It was an uncomfortable thing. It’s not the first time I’ve seen it. It’s not the last time I’ve seen it. And it’s not the first time it’s happened in the league and it’s not the last time. It is the trade deadline looming and sometimes trades happen that are unexpected and untimely.”
As Gruden was busy speculating whether or not the trade was official, Cooper was already in Dallas and had finished his first practice with the Cowboys.
It’s laughable excuses such as this that have led to players reportedly questioning Gruden’s accountability.