As the offseason continues, one thing is clear about the direction of the Las Vegas Raiders under new coach Josh McDaniels.
The team has made two major moves that already are different than the first major decision by the Raiders’ last coach and McDaniels’ first move when he was the head coach of the Denver Broncos.
It’s about the players and McDaniels now seems to get that fact. Let’s look at the examples:
Maxx Crosby/Khalil Mack:
McDaniels’ first major move in Las Vegas was to give star pass-rusher Maxx Crosby a massive contract extension almost immediately after he became eligible. As Crosby said, McDaniels and new Las Vegas general manager Dave Ziegler wasn’t playing around.
They knew the importance of their star pass-rusher and they locked him up. Perhaps they learned a lesson from one of Jon Gruden’s first moves when he became the Raiders head coach again in 2018.
Gruden, the final decision maker with the Raiders, let the Mack contract talks linger and saw his star pass-rusher hold out all the way through training camp. The talks got ugly and Gruden was forced to trade Mack. That decision set he tone for a rocky Gruden tenure with the team.
Gruden needed Mack like McDaniels needs Crosby. At least, McDaniels has his guy.
Davante Adams/Jay Cutler:
McDaniels had his own version of the Mack disaster.
In 2009, weeks after he became the head coach in Denver, McDaniels alienated quarterback Jay Cutler, who was 25 and coming off a Pro Bowl season in his second year as a starter. McDaniels unsuccessfully tried to trade for quarterback Matt Cassel, who was with him in New England. McDaniels wasn’t up front with Cutler and the relationship was ruined before it even started.
Cutler was traded to the Chicago Bears before taking one practice snap under McDaniels’ guidance. It set the tone for a awful 28-game tenure in Denver for McDaniels.
When he was hired in Las Vegas, McDaniels said he learned from his mistakes in Denver and he knew he had to deal with people better. So, when he saw a relationship start to fray in another city and had a chance to make his quarterback happy, McDaniels pounced, trading for star receiver Davante Adams from the Green Bay Packers, reuniting him with college teammate Derek Carr.
This time, McDaniels was on the right side of a bad situation.
These Crosby and Adams moves don’t guarantee anything, but it shows McDaniels value’s top talent and that’s a great sign for his future in Las Vegas.