It didn’t take Mike Mayock long to get the hang of being a general manager. The weekend before free agency was set to begin he helped facilitate a blockbuster trade that brought in All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, for only a third and fifth round pick in return.
He followed that up just minutes into the free agent negotiating period by locking up the top tackle in free agency, Trent Brown.
A day later, safety/cornerback hybrid Lamarcus Joyner was added to the defense at a bargain compared to some of the contracts that were handed out to other players at his position. And to top it off Derek Carr got another new toy in Tyrell Williams, who was viewed as the top wide receiver available.
Sprinkle in some of the less heralded moves like re-signing Johnathan Hankins and Erik Harris, and bringing in veterans Vontaze Burfict, Brandon Marshall, and Isaiah Crowell.
With the draft still to come, Mayock has the opportunity to add a couple more starters to the lineup with four picks in the top 35. Arguably, one of the worst rosters in the league last year has the looks of a much more competitive team in 2019.
While the talent has improved, where Mayock — who credits the work of contract specialist Tom Delaney — has really excelled is with his ability to create contracts that are attractive to free agents and beneficial to the team.
On the surface, Trent Brown’s record contract appears to be an absurd amount of money for a guy who with the exception of last season has been an average tackle in the league. And it is a lot of money, especially after the first season. After 2020, however, his contract offers the Raiders flexibility to get out of it with zero dead cap.
This is a common theme among the contracts the Raiders signed this offseason. All of the contracts of the big four players (Brown, Brown, Williams, Joyner) that the Raiders signed can be taken off the books or cut without any dead money after the 2020 season. And Williams and Joyner can be let go after the 2019 season.
I recently interviewed Austin Gayle, senior content and strategy analyst at Pro Football Focus for my podcast, “Just Pod Baby”. Here is what he had to say about the job Mayock has done.
“I think Mike Mayock has done a masterful job,” said Gayle. “Mike Mayock knows the structure of this roster maybe isn’t ready to compete for a Super Bowl in the next couple years . They need to sign veterans to add talent but they do not want to commit long term money to players when they don’t know where the roster will be when the quarterback question gets solved and when they’re able to see what these five first round draft picks are able to do.”
The exciting part about this is that Mayock was hired for his expertise as a talent evaluator and not his ability to wheel and deal with agents like a used car salesman. If his first free agency is a sign of things to come for Mike Mayock’s tenure as general manager then the Raiders future is in good hands.