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Raiders’ offseason: Did Mike Mayock get a raw deal?

Raiders owner Mark Davis did former GM dirty in one particular way

NFL: Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders
Mike Mayock, right, was let go as Las Vegas Raiders general manager on Monday. His departure comes three months after former head coach Jon Gruden, left, resigned in October.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Davis still had Mike Mayock in place as his general manager while the Las Vegas Raiders request permission to interview possible candidates to become the new GM on Monday.

In that respect, the owner did Mayock dirty.

Davis eventually dismissed Mayock Monday afternoon, however. The former GM’s run ends after three seasons and 23 NFL Draft picks later. Lauded for his draft acumen and talent evaluation on NFL Network for many years before doing the real thing for an NFL franchise, Mayock is very likely to land on his feet quickly and probably back on TV.

“We have relieved Mike Mayock of his duties as General Manager of the Las Vegas Raiders,” the team said in a statement. “We thank Mike for his contributions over the last three years in helping to form the foundation for the franchise to build upon in its future.”

But you’d think the Raiders would give the person who helped form their foundation for the future to get a gentler nudge out the door. Like get axed before the team went about finding Mayock’s replacement. Or, perhaps Davis and the Raiders did?

Neither Davis nor Mayock provided any comment on the matter on Monday to shed any light or details. Only the blanket team statement served as comment. So it’s unclear exactly when the decision to can Mayock occurred. However, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Raiders decision to split with their former GM occurred several days ago before it became official Monday and the reports of the team looking for another head personnel person surfaced.

Yet, Davis did wax Mayock with cause. Serving as the chief scout for then-head coach Jon Gruden (the man who made the draft guru the GM in the first place), Mayock had the biggest voice in Chucky’s ear. And the combo of Mayock and Gruden did find some quality talent in the draft such as defensive end Maxx Crosby (fourth round, 2019); wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (fifth round, 2019); Josh Jacobs (first round, 2019); guard John Simpson (fourth round, 2020); safety Tre’Von Moehrig (second round, 2021); linebacker Divine Deablo (third round, 2021); cornerback Nate Hobbs (fifth round, 2021) and other contributors. However, there were more misses than bullseyes, amongst those 23 selections.

Chief among them first round picks Clelin Ferrell (defensive end, 2019), Damon Arnette (cornerback 2020), and Henry Ruggs III (wide receiver, 2020). Then there was the head-scratcher of a third round in 2020 where Mayock boisterously said having three picks in that round was “like stealing”. Talk about cocky and braggadocios swagger. Mayock did add the caveat that if the team did it right, those trio of third rounders would be starters.

It didn’t go right. Not by a longshot.

Only one of the triplets is a Raider and was a starter — wide receiver Bryan Edwards. College quarterback-turned-running back Lynn Bowden Jr. was released before taking a legit snap and linebacker Tanner Muse was hurt then sent packing the following year.

Of course, you can’t place the draft missteps squarely on Mayock’s shoulders alone. Gruden was the be-all, end-all decision maker for the Raiders as he was given autonomous decision-making power from Davis. But when Gruden left after Email Gate, Mayock didn’t distance himself from draft selections and basically dug in hard when the team axed Arnette after a troubling video of him surfaced where he was pointing a gun at the camera and threatening to kill someone. Mayock called the decision to release the cornerback “painful” and noted the Raiders did their due diligence and spent a huge amount of time to vet the Ohio State product.

“We found the risk acceptable after doing more homework on Arnette than anybody we’ve done in the years I’ve been here,” Mayock said after announcing the Raiders were parting with Arnette. “And obviously we missed. And that is 100% on me.”

I’ve long said Davis would be best served if he rid his Raiders of every remnant of the Gruden era. What I mean by that is the general manager and coaching staff. Players are a whole different beast, altogether. Yet, it appears Davis may be heading in the direction of a sweep and clear. And perhaps, a new Raiders era is upon us.

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Las Vegas Raiders v Cincinnati Bengals
Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis may be slated to hire not only a new general manager for his franchise, but potentially a head coach too.
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

And the new era just might mean a new head coach to pair along with the incoming general manager. Like Mayock, interim head coach Rich Bisaccia is still with the team and the Raiders sought permission to interview New England Patriots defensive assistant Jerod Mayo for the head coach gig. Vegas also asked to interview Pats director of player personnel Dave Ziegler for the GM spot.

Bisaccia noted he and Davis did speak, but didn’t go into specifics during his press conference a day after Bisaccia’s Raiders fell to the Cincinnati Bengals 26-19 during the opener of Super Wild Card weekend of the NFL Playoffs.

“Mark and I have had some conversations,” Bisaccia said. “There’s due process. He has to interview some other candidates, as I well know. I’m very respectful of the process, what it’s supposed to look like and how it’s supposed to work. I think we’ll be in constant conversation and we’ll certainly talk again before the week is over.”

While Mayo becomes the first “official” request, expect more from the Raiders. And there’s the ever-popular Jim Harbaugh leaving Michigan to come back to the NFL and join the Silver & Black rumor. Like Bisaccia said and Mayock found out, we’ll know in due time.