People usually expect a wild set of events when they hear a league’s trade deadline is approaching. The NFL is not known for its frenzy pace when nearing the deadline but the trades that do happen are usually eye opening.
The Oakland Raiders are now the proud owners of two such trades that have made us say “wow” out loud. They traded All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears for a couple of first-round draft picks (2019,2020), plus two later round picks back in September. The team has now dealt former first-round draft pick Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys for their 2019 first-round draft pick.
Jon Gruden himself said ” I’m trying to throw the game back to 1998″. Whether he meant he wanted to make his team more smash-mouth style or he just wanted to pick his own players like when he took over in 98′ remains a mystery. He now has five first round draft picks over the next two years at his disposal to do whatever he was talking about there.
Gruden is trying to acquire young affordable talent who’s contract you can control for half a decade. By getting rid of players, you would have to pay (eventually) and flipping them for draft picks, he can control his teams salary cap while still adding production at numerous positions on the field.
Mack was due a huge contract extension and Cooper would be playing on his fifth year option in 2019, meaning his big payday would be looming as well. These moves serve a multitude of purposes surrounding the Raiders and Gruden’s quest.
Other than the cap situation, it puts other players on notice that their job isn’t safe if they thought it was. In the middle of a losing season, you need to keep players motivated somehow, this will at least prove who’s trying to play hard for you.
Gruden is also providing himself a chance to coach these draft picks in his system from the beginning. He was probably less than thrilled to inherit certain players that won’t even get credit for making better.
His personality screams hands on and he won’t be satisfied until his team is made up of (mostly) guys he drafted or handpicked in free agency.
The Raiders are 1-5 and even though a soft part of their schedule is coming up, you can forget a miraculous run in their last ten games. The fans don’t want to hear it but getting ready for next year and gearing for the future isn’t the worst idea.
Jon Gruden was hired for a decade to win a Super Bowl title, nowhere does it say he had to achieve that in year one. Its the same plan like that first time he was hired way back in 1998.