If Seth Roberts is the odd man out, so be it.
The Oakland Raiders wide receiving corp got a stupendous depth charge with a draft-day trade for ex-Pittsburgh Steeler Martavis Bryant.
Head coach Jon Gruden tapped into his inner maverick and went Al Davis with that acquisition. A big, fast and productive wideout for a third-round pick, that had Big Al written all over it.
The Raiders weren’t done adding more competition in the wide receivers room as the team snagged Oklahoma State playmaker Marcell Ateman in the seventh round, swapped ineffective Jihad Ward for the Cowboys’ smurf-like dynamo Ryan Switzer shortly after the draft and inked Penn State’s Saeed Blacknall as an undrafted free agent.
And suddenly, the highly compensated Roberts goes from a no-better-options No. 3 receiver to No. 4 or worse. Dig this group of wide receivers: Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant, Seth Roberts, Johnny Holton, Griff Whalen, Dwayne Harris, Keon Hatcher, Isaac Whitney Switzer, Ateman, and Blacknall.
That list will be dwindled to five, maybe six — and that’s being extremely hopeful.
Here’s an early projection: Coop, Nelson, Bryant as top three. Holton (a special teams ace gunner/deep threat) and Switzer (return man/slot potential) taking the fourth and five spots.
If the Raiders keep a sixth, it shouldn’t be Roberts. Even if the Raiders keep five, Roberts shouldn’t be one of them. He’s been a good soldier doing whatever the team asks (blocking a defensive end is an unenviable task) but the other options come at a cheaper rate.
Roberts is going to receive a handsome salary of $4.45 million. The other options are veteran minimum and rookie-deal cats.
Smart money if it boils down to it: Keep Ateman and let Roberts walk. Do the Raiders really want to risk losing a 6-foot-4, 220-pound rookie with a high ceiling?
Putting Ateman on waivers to sneak him on the practice squad is a risky proposition. It’s a solid chance Ateman can produce a 43 catch, 455 yard, one touchdown season like Roberts had last season.
I would be remiss not to give Roberts his proper due. He is an outstanding blocker. And if he were a stonewall tight end, his salary ($2.25 million base, $2.20 in bonuses) would merit the cost. Especially on a Gruden team that emphasizes the blocking aspect of the tight end position.
But he’s not. He’s an extremely expensive wide receiver on a team replete with them.
Roberts’ production doesn’t merit his compensation. There were even grumblings the Raiders were actively looking to trade him.
General manager Reggie McKenzie needs to bite the bullet and rid the team of a questionable contract. And Gruden is going to make that decision easier (see what happened to ex-punter Marquette King).
If McKenzie went on the record saying King’s contract was “too expensive”, then ditto for Roberts.
- Oakland waived rookie punter Coby Wadaman last Friday. Fifth-round pick Johnny Townsend is elevated into the starting spot being the lone boot specialist on the roster.
- Quarterback Josh Johnson was also released last week. The veteran quarterback is a true journeyman despite not seeing a meaningful snap since 2013.