Remember what head coach Jon Gruden said after the Oakland Raiders traded Khalil Mack?
“It wasn’t my goal to trade Khalil when we got here,” he said early this season. “One of the reasons I’m here is because of him. Unfortunately, we had a standoff with a contract, and we could not come to terms. The [Chicago] Bears made us an offer of two first-round draft choices and here we are today.”
How about what Gruden said about Amari Cooper when he was first rehired?
“He’ll be the focal point of our offense,” Gruden said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I hope he’s listening here today. I’m looking forward to joining up with Amari Cooper. He has tremendous quickness. He’s smart, versatile and he’s a gamer. He likes the bright lights, and he’ll be the headliner in our offense.”
But of course, Mack didn’t play a down for Gruden and Cooper wasn’t used much before being traded to the Dallas Cowboys. With his $100 million contract, Gruden has the money and power so he got the blame for these trades. Former Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie getting fired seemed to solidify these moves were made by Gruden.
But one man that was slept on in all this was owner Mark Davis, who signs all the checks. Davis has put all his financial eggs in the baskets of Gruden and relocation to Las Vegas. From there, it doesn’t sound like Davis was ready for Mack not to play on a 5th-year option.
“My thought was, ‘Listen, he signed a five-year contract, if he’s the type of guy that I think he is, he’s going to honor that contract,’” Davis told ESPN last month. “And he’s going to come in and play for the $13 million for this year and then we’ll work for him during the year and get it. Word came back through certain players that know him and talk to him and know me as well, that he wasn’t going to come in. He was going to do the Le’Veon Bell [holdout]. At that point, I said, ‘F it. The guy hasn’t talked to anybody. We’ve got to do something.’”
Cooper has the same agent as Mack so it it seems unlikely Cooper would play on a 5th-year option either. So Cooper telling Calvin Watkins of the Athletic that Davis is the one behind trading him makes all the sense in the world.
It appears that some of the holes the Raiders had coming into this season are being filled. Gareon Conley is playing like shutdown cornerback and Karl Joseph has been outstanding since getting an opportunity. Defensive tackle Maurice Hurst has provided an interior rush. But the Raiders have the worst pass-rush in the NFL and edge-rusher is their biggest need now.
How good would the defense be with Mack on it right now?
Offensively, Derek Carr is playing well now that he’s mastered the offense and doesn’t have a great receiver corps. He has made a star out of tight end Jared Cook, the Raiders latest reclamation project.
How much better would the Raiders’ passing game be if they kept and properly utilized Cooper?
The company line is to blame general manager Reggie McKenzie’s misses while firing him. Others look to blame Gruden and his moves since returning to the Raiders since he has control over football operations.
Now, particularly with the Cooper report coming out, you have to wonder just how much Davis has to do with all this.
Who do you believe is most to blame for the Raiders’ current state of affairs?
This poll is closed
Mark Davis’ financial situation affecting personnel decisions.
Reggie McKenzie for his drafting.
Jon Gruden making bad personnel decisions.