Today ESPN’s Bill Barnwell went back 365 days to look at trades across the league which were most impactful. And the Raiders had a major presence on the list. Starting with two trades the Raiders made which were labeled as ‘utterly useless’. Well, that is unless you consider throwing away and third and fifth round pick to be useless. I’m sure they were somewhat useful to the teams which got them.
The Oakland Raiders made a pair of utterly useless moves in giving up a third-round pick for Martavis Bryant and a fifth-round selection for AJ McCarron, who combined to play 232 offensive snaps in 2018.
Not mentioned were the trade of Jihad Ward for Ryan Switzer and then the trade of Ryan Switzer to the Steelers for a 2019 5th round pick.
The list of most impactful trades is 30 moves long, starting with the 30th. The Raiders’ first appearance is at number 28.
28. Titans trade up for a pass-rusher
Raiders trade: 2-41
Titans trade: 2-57, 3-89
General manager Jon Robinson moved up to grab former Boston College edge rusher Harold Landry as a presumptive replacement for Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo. Titans fans would have been delighted to hear in August that Landry would manage to produce more sacks than Morgan and Orakpo combined, but with both veterans missing time, their two combined totals weren’t even half of Landry’s 4.5. Landry did rack up 14 quarterback knockdowns, and using the 45 percent rule, his 6.3 expected sack total suggests he’s likely to take a step forward in 2019. With Khalil Mack on the roster at the time, the Raiders clearly had no need to grab a young pass-rusher in this spot.
Impact grade: C-
Glad someone was making moves to get a pass rusher in that draft. Lord knows the Raiders could have used one or two.
It wasn’t far into the list before the Raiders made another appearance.
21. Cardinals get their quarterback
Raiders trade: 1-10
Cardinals trade: 1-15, 3-79, 5-152
To get Josh Rosen, the Cardinals sent 26.8 points of value on the Chase Stuart draft value chart, roughly somewhere between the third and fourth overall pick. In Year 1, though, Rosen wasn’t an impact contributor. It seems fair to assign a huge chunk of the blame to an offensive line that was starting five backups by December.
The Raiders, meanwhile, used the 15th pick on Kolton Miller, who had an uneven season at left tackle. The 79th pick went to the Steelers for Martavis Bryant, which was a disastrous waste of a good pick. Oakland then traded 152 to the Ravens as part of the package to move up from 75 to 65, where it drafted fellow starting tackle Brandon Parker. Getting two starting linemen out of one trade is impressive, but Miller and Parker combined to allow 21.5 sacks in 2018, per Stats LLC.
Impact grade: C
“Disastrous waste of a good pick” is more accurate than simply calling the Martavis Bryant trade useless. The Raiders traded down in the first round, got poor value for a franchise quarterback move, and then wasted it to get nothing in the deal.
A few spots more and here are the Raiders again, who were wheeling and dealing, sending a man who would become a Pro Bowler to move up 51 picks from the sixth to the fifth round.
17. Patriots turn a returner into a ... running back?
Raiders trade: WR Cordarrelle Patterson, 6-210
Patriots trade: 5-159
When the Patriots traded for Patterson in March, it looked like New England was buying low on a successful kick returner who was out of favor with the new regime in Oakland. That part was true, given that the 27-year-old Patterson averaged 28.8 yards per return and took a kickoff 95 yards to the house in a 38-31 victory over the Bears. What nobody could have expected, though, is that Bill Belichick would see a 220-pound struggling wide receiver and turn him into a power running back. Patterson carried the ball 42 times for 228 yards this season and played a regular role at halfback when the Pats were down Rex Burkhead, Jeremy Hill and Sony Michel for a stretch in midseason.
Impact grade: C+
Patterson is a truly horrendous route runner. And he was the only one who didn’t see it, so he laughed off the idea of improving in that area. That’s why Gruden had no interest in keeping him on. Even though his return abilities carry a lot of value. Certainly worth it for the Patriots to move up one round late in the draft.
And, of course, as you might have expected, the two most impactful trades in the NFL last year both had the Raiders sending super stars elsewhere for top picks.
2. The Cowboys transform their offense
Raiders trade: WR Amari Cooper
Cowboys trade: 2019 first-round pick (1-27)
When I wrote about the Cooper trade in October, the best arguments I could find to justify Dallas’ outlay were the idea that the Cowboys needed to evaluate Dak Prescott and that the 3-4 Cowboys still had a reasonable shot at winning a wide-open NFC East.
I don’t think the Cowboys could even have imagined things would go as well as they did, though. Cooper had one of the best three-game stretches in recent memory, racking up 473 yards and five touchdowns in a crucial series of victories over Washington, New Orleans and Philadelphia. Prescott posted a passer rating of 104.6 with Cooper on the field, with that mark falling to 86.8 when Cooper was on the Raiders or on the Dallas sidelines.
The division then broke for the Cowboys after Alex Smith went down with an injury. The Cowboys lost their first game with Cooper and then went 7-1 down the stretch, including a 4-0 mark in the NFC East. Cooper added 166 yards and a touchdown in two playoff games. The move seemed curious at the time, but it’s difficult to imagine Cooper leaving Dallas anytime soon. This one worked out for Jerry Jones & Co.
Impact grade: A
1. The Bears go all-in for a dominant edge rusher
Raiders trade: OLB Khalil Mack, 2020 second-round pick, 2020 conditional fifth-round pick
Bears trade: 2019 first-round pick (1-24), 2019 sixth-round pick, 2020 first-round pick, 2020 third-round pick
What else could top this list? The Bears were better than you thought on defense in 2017 and extremely likely to improve in 2018, but Mack took the defense to another level. He thoroughly dominated in the first half of the Week 1 opener against the Packers, and while the Bears ended up losing that game, he was a game-changing force for most of the season. Mack finished with 12.5 sacks and six forced fumbles. The Bears would have been a good defense without him, but when he wasn’t 100 percent, Chicago allowed 31 points to the Dolphins and 24 points to the Patriots before unsurprisingly dominating Sam Darnold and Nathan Peterman while Mack rested his ankle. I don’t need to tell you Mack was great.
The Raiders, meanwhile, finished the year with just 13 sacks on defense, the second-worst total of the past 20 seasons. Mack wouldn’t have saved the Raiders from an obscure 2018 campaign, but they had absolutely no solution in his absence. They will almost certainly have to use at least one of the picks they get from the Mack trade to go after a pass-rusher, and the chances of that defender coming close to Mack’s impact aren’t particularly high.
Judging a trade like this after one year isn’t really fair in most cases. The Raiders haven’t even drafted any of the players who would form the return of this deal. Given that the Raiders reportedly chose Chicago’s offer because they expected the Bears to return high draft picks, though, it’s hard to argue that they scouted their possibilities well. It also served as the white flag for Oakland’s season before it even began. The most impactful trades in a typical season will transform one team. This trade transformed two.
Impact grade: A+
Both of these trades made the team receiving the player instantly better and both would win their respective divisions, giving the Raiders a pick in the bottom ten of the first round. The Cooper trade made sense for all parties, while the Mack trade was terrible for the Raiders and always will be.
I don’t really get the grading system. How does one grade impact? That’s usually reserved for how well or how poorly someone performs, So, without taking a side in it, the grade is essentially useless. But whatevs.