“We made a decision as an organization. People are trying to divide us,” Jon Gruden defiantly said at Sunday’s press conference at Oakland Raiders HQ.
“I really wasn’t involved in all of that. So you have to ask (general manager) Reggie (McKenzie) to be honest with you,” the head coach quipped when asked why a second rounder was included in the trade that sent Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears.
Infer from that what you will.
But boy, the salvos didn’t end there.
When asked about sending a third rounder to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the now disposed of wide receiver Martavis Bryant, Gruden fired shots (directly or indirectly) over McKenzie’s bow by stating the draft, in essence, is a crapshoot.
Evidence: The Raiders have waxed second rounders from 2015-2017 (Mario Edwards Jr., Jihad Ward, Obi Melifonwu) from the roster.
Who made those draft picks?
Immediately, anecdotes of “Gruden runs over McKenzie with a bus — repeatedly” to “Gruden just hit McKenzie with a Mack truck” surfaced on the Twitter-verse.
But is Gruden wrong in that particular instance?
Shed the anger and venom you have for Gruden after the shocking Mack trade. Let objectivity take hold. Is Gruden wrong in his assessment of his GM?
An argument can be made he’s right.
Sure, Gruden grabbed a shovel and hit McKenzie over the head with it, but there’s a reason the high-upside second round prospects no longer occupy space on the Raiders roster. Without question, coaching plays a gargantuan role in draft picks. It can be easily said the picks failed due to improper teaching. And it was because of that Gruden went on to add a razor-sharp dig in: The Raiders are the oldest team in the NFL due to improper drafting and development.
“You fill holes in free agency and those players tend to be older,” Gruden said.
Spitting. Truth. Like it or not.
The first questions were obviously about the transaction that sent Mack, a second rounder and a conditional fifth to Chicago for a 2019 and 2020 first round picks, a 2019 sixth rounder and a 2020 third rounder.
“The negotiation was what it was. It was tough. It was a long process. We talked about it daily. We made an offer, I don’t think it was anywhere close to the Bears,” Gruden said.
“That was something we could not to do,” Gruden added when asked about the $90 million Chicago guaranteed Mack.
Credit Gruden for answering the questions presented to him.
But one inquiry was curiously absent. It was like an itch I couldn’t scratch because it wasn’t asked…
What happens when you have another player ascend to an elite level?
The deal Mack and Aaron Donald got from their respective teams is the going market value for premiere defenders. This is going to be the norm going forward, for better or worse. Will the Raiders ship off another ascending defender (that’s if they ever land and develop one again) Ala Mack?