Saturday Raider Nation was riding high. The Raiders nabbed arguably the best receiver in the NFL for the low, low price of a third round pick (66 overall) and fifth round pick (140). That’s what they sent the Pittsburgh Steelers for Antonio Brown. And they didn’t really have to break the bank in a contract.
There were a lot of fans who were withholding judgment on any deal to acquire the former All Pro because of the worries the team would send the Steelers one of their four picks in the top 35 as well as pay him the kind of money that made them wonder why they didn’t pay Khalil Mack instead of trading him away prior to last season.
Upon learning the trade and contract details, the verdict was in and the fans were all about it, with 68% of fans giving the trade an A and 92% giving the AB trade an A or B.
Then today was met with news that wasn’t nearly as good. The Raiders had traded former All Pro left guard Kelechi Osemele along with the 6th round pick they got from the Bears as part of the Mack trade to the Jets for their 5th round pick (140 overall).
This deal was not met with the level of enthusiasm as the Brown trade.
In this poll, the opinion of Raider Nation is split. Nearly half the fans (49%) in the poll have the trade at a C, D, or F. While only 17% give it an A.
The unpopularity of the trade is understandable. Osemele was an All Pro just two seasons ago as part of arguably the best interior trio in football. He was a mauler as a power blocker, but the Raiders decided zone blocking was the way to go. Not only that, but they had two different zone blocking schemes the past two seasons, first under new offensive coordinator, Todd Downing, and then under new offensive line coach Tom Cable.
He struggled early in 2017 along with the rest of the Raiders line, but looked much better over the second half of the season. Along with the change from a lateral zone to a downhill zone under Tom Cable last season, Osemele suffered a serious knee injury in week four that had him miss five games and clearly bothered him in the games he did play in.
He has been among the highest paid guards in the NFL the past three seasons in Oakland. With his $10.2 million cap hit this season and no dead money should he be cut or traded, made him a target as a cut. The Raiders were able to find a trade partner in the Jets to move up 56 picks from the middle of the sixth round to the top of the 5th round (140) — one pick higher than their original 5th round pick (141) they sent to Pittsburgh for Brown.
The real problem here is the Raiders open up a need on the team they didn’t have before. They already had glaring needs at several other positions including defensive end, linebacker, offensive tackle, wide receiver (yes, even with the addition of Brown), running back, safety, slot corner, and possibly tight end as well should Jared Cook leave as a free agent.
Realistically, you can expect to immediately fill four positions in the draft with picks at 4, 24, 27, and 35. Guard becomes the ninth need position when it didn’t have to be. The Raiders still had among the most cap space in the league, even after the Brown contract.
Other moves the Raiders have made thus far have been positive, including the report today they re-signed DT Johnathan Hankins to a 2-year deal. The Osemele trade puts a blemish on that otherwise spotless offseason.