If there’s one person who is on the outside looking in but who is familiar with new Las Vegas Raiders regime’s modus operandi, it’s Scott Pioli. The former longtime NFL executive cut his teeth with Silver & Black head honcho Josh McDaniels when they were both with the New England Patriots in the early 2000s.
And, because of that, Pioli believes the roster building is far from over in the desert. He not only worked with McDaniels as New England's director of player personnel — McDaniels was a personnel assistant at the time — they were both engrained with a particular mantra.
“He worked with us in the player personnel department before he went to coaching and one of the things that was a big part of our philosophy is that we worked and used the entire calendar year to acquire talent,” Pioli said of McDaniels during a segment on NFL Total Access recently. “I don’t think the Raiders are done yet in terms of acquiring players. They will use the 53-man roster cuts to pick up players that will help their overall team — especially this defense.”
Pioli hits the nail squarely on the head with that notion as both McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler display a never-content attitude during their young tenure so far. From free agency, the NFL Draft, and to now, the duo have proven to be in-sync this offseason as the new Raiders power structure is dead-set on bringing back excellence and a championship mentality to Las Vegas.
Pioli was very complimentary of the Raiders additions thus far as he highlighted bringing in veteran pass rusher Chandler Jones who is an accomplished sack artist and leader.
“We just watched an interview with a player (Chandler Jones) that is going to be the glue guy for this defense,” Pioli noted. “He’s going to bring an element of maturity and experience that cannot be underrated. I was on some really good teams and having players like that helps in so many ways.”
From fellow defenders to coaches, Jones’ arrival in free agency is hitting all the tones Pioli mentioned. The Raiders are banking on the edge rusher not only to set a tone and lead by example but be a productive member of the defense. Which brings up another trouble Silver & Black problem spot that Pioli believes the team addressed.
“The other place where they upgraded was the cornerback position. Bringing in Anthony Averett and Rock Ya-Sin is really going to help their defense because as we know, the corner position has been a problem for them,” Pioli said.
What Pioli said about 53-man cutdown day should be an interesting event. Teams are likely going to make surprise cuts which opens the doors for other squads to pounce. Late-type additions shouldn’t be discounted, however. Just look at current middle linebacker Denzel Perryman. He was acquired via trade with the Carolina Panthers on August 25 last season and went on to start 15 games to lead the Raiders in combined tackles (154, 102 solo). He earned Pro Bowl nods for his consistent 2021 season.
Silver & Black Turmoil?
The Las Vegas Review-Journal did a solid job laying out the allegations and lawsuits from Raiders former employees.
“They told the Review-Journal the storied franchise enabled a culture in Oakland and Las Vegas that left them feeling unsupported, underpaid and at risk of retaliation if they voiced concerns. Those complaints were echoed in multiple lawsuits filed over the course of a decade,” the story noted.
That’s particularly eye-opening if the allegations are true as the Raiders organization championed diversity and inclusion. Owner Mark Davis provided a single comment to the Review-Journal: “Eventually, I will have something to say about all of this, but not right now.”
The turnover hasn’t gone unnoticed as executives have departed with former head coach Jon Gruden’s resignation chief among them. So it’ll be interesting to here Davis provide his thoughts on the matter — at some point.
From matchup nightmare of a fullback to senior vice president and chief of staff, it’s been quite the rise up the Raiders ranks for Marcel Reece. Before he became the senior VP, Reece could be seen consistently by Davis’ side at both public and team-sponsored events.
It was clear from the get-go Davis valued Reece’s input and opinion and his ascension up the Silver & Black administrative staff is further proof of that. The Athletic’s Lindsey Jones penned the NFL 40 under 40: The top young coaches, execs, agents and other rising stars on Monday highlighting Reece’s rise with the Raiders.
“He rejoined the organization in 2020 as a senior advisor to Davis and has had a prominent forward-facing role as the Raiders relocated to Las Vegas. He’s a fixture at community events, but his recent promotion shows his role is much larger than serving as an ambassador for the team. He’s someone who will have influence on Davis and future franchise decisions,” Jones wrote.
Reece commitment to the Raiders is unquestioned and it’s good to see a former player become a trusted executive.