When Jon Gruden began reshaping the roster in his image, many fans became very uneasy.
Fan favorites like Michael Crabtree and Marquette King were shown the door while older veterans like Jordy Nelson and Doug Martin were brought in to bridge the gap. Those same fans were shocked when Gruden traded Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears. Now, rumor has it that Mark Davis is the one calling the shots. If this is true, the Raider Nation should be worried. Here’s why.
Missing the Mark: Davis’ Dangerous Decisions
If the reports are true, it means that Mark Davis, the same man who hired Reggie McKenzie as a general manager because he professed he “wasn’t an X’s and O’s guy” when he inherited his team from his father, the late, great, Al Davis, is making football decisions. Everyone assumed that it was Gruden, the 100 million dollar man, making the big football decisions. But then he had this interview with ESPN’s Paul Guiterrez.
During the interview, Davis told Guiterrez that Gruden wanted Mack badly, but when word got back to Davis that Mack intended to hold out, something had to be done. That’s when Chicago called with their offer, and the deal was done in the eleventh hour.
Davis commented that Mack and Cooper have the same agent, Joel Segal, and that “It wasn’t just one layer of chess, it was two layers of chess” because he believed they’d have another contentious contract debate a year later.
This presents a reality in which the Raiders traded both Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper because the Raiders didn’t like his agent, not just because they were valuable trade pieces. Some speculated that Davis was just covering up for his expensive head coach.
Gruden had been away from the sideline for ten years, and even if it was a gimmick, he was known for his big personality. It was all too easy for fans and experts alike to question whether the game had passed him by and his ego had allowed him to trade two great players away.
Off the Mark
Then Benjamin Allbright, who has an interesting relationship with the Raider Nation, tweeted this.
However, Allbright was vindicated on Thursday when the Athletic’s Calvin Watkins told him Amari Cooper all-but-confirmed his theory.
Mark Davis is letting a personal issue with an agent interfere with his team.
Davis is letting Mack’s tumultuous contract negotiations affect other players on the roster. This presents two scary theories.
The first is that the Raiders simply won’t sign or draft Segal’s clients. That means the Raiders won’t select Ed Oliver this season, he’s already hired Segal. If Minkah Fitzpatrick becomes a free agent, he won’t be a Raider because he’s represented by Segal. If the Raiders wanted a veteran corner, they could cross Patrick Peterson’s name off the list, because he’s also signed with Segal. Safety Karl Joseph, another Segal client, has started playing well lately, will he be traded before his contract expires?
It’s hard to say. Hopefully the feud doesn’t last long, and Davis’ commitment to excellence wins over his commitment to bitterness.
Making a Mark
The scary part is that despite having a general manager at the time, and paying Jon Gruden ten million dollars a year, Mark Davis is making football decisions. When the owner is calling all the shots, the biggest problem is that there’s no accountability. There are no checks and balances. If Mark makes a mistake, there are no consequences. You can’t lose your team by drafting poorly. Just look at how bad the Washington Redskins have been since Dan Snyder took over. Look at all of the ways that Jerry Jones has sabotaged the Dallas Cowboys over the years.
The Sins of the Father
The Raider Nation knows all too well that an owner making football decisions can be dangerous. As brilliant as Al Davis was in his prime, the last decade as the owner and general manager of the Raiders was hard to watch. Between 2003 and Al’s last draft in 2011, the Raiders drafted one Pro Bowler, corner Nnamdi Asomugha. Over that same time period, the Raiders missed on several free agents, and failed to find a viable starting quarterback.
This was Al Davis. The same Al Davis that helped revolutionize the passing game, battle racial and gender inequality, and build teams that appeared in eight championship games (AFL Championships included). Al Davis completely changed the league, and is regarded by anyone with knowledge of NFL history as a genius, and even he ran the team into the ground as judge, jury, and executioner.
It wouldn’t be unfair to say that Mark Davis is not his father. The Raiders might be in trouble if Davis is calling the shots, especially when he’s paying someone else one hundred million dollars to make the big money decisions. Al also infamously allowed personal feelings to interfere with football, and all it did was hurt the team.
Hopefully this isn’t the case, and Davis lets Gruden call the shots moving forward. The jury is still out on Chucky’s return, and everyone in Raider Nation is holding their breath. But if Mark Davis is making big personnel decisions, and more importantly, letting his personal feelings interfere in them, the Raiders could be in big trouble moving forward.