The Oakland Raiders have taken the NFL by storm with sound moves that will boost the team’s chances of success next season. Along with head coach Jon Gruden, new general manager Mike Mayock has his fingerprints all over these moves.
The biggest splash came when Oakland sent a third and fifth round pair of draft picks to the Steelers for wide receiver Antonio Brown. Drew Rosenhaus, who is Brown’s agent, praised Mayock for being a sharp negotiator. The patience shown by Mayock in this trade process speaks wonders to his ability and bodes well for Oakland. Mayock successfully held on to four early draft picks while nabbing an All-Pro player.
However, Brown’s trade was not the only move the Raiders made under Mayock’s watch in the same week. The team also traded guard Kelechi Osemele along with a sixth-round draft pick in exchange for the New York Jets fifth round pick not long after getting Brown. It’s not a bad return, considering Oakland could have released him outright with no repercussions while getting cap relief once he would’ve been no longer with the organization. In another corresponding move, the Raiders re-signed Erik Harris, giving him another two-years in the Silver and Black. Harris was originally tendered by Oakland, as was cornerback Daryl Worley and running back Jalen Richard.
Capping a flurry of activity, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Oakland re-signed defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins after trading for Brown and shipping Osemele to the Jets. In 2018, Hankins was added late in the year and wasn’t spectacular, but he was solid during his first stint with the team. The new contract shows Mayock and Gruden approve of what they’ve seen and now look for Hankins to be a part of re-branding Raiders as a perennial winner again.
When everyone thought the Raiders were done handing out contracts, they surprised everyone by signingPatriots offensive tackle Trent Brown to a four-year $66 million contract. Brown’s performance has been questioned by some, but he has a lot of upside, considering he’ll be 26-years old once the season starts. The 350-pound beast should provide immediate stability to an offensive line that allowed 52 sacks in 2018.
Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther also benefited from the Raiders free agency moves as they are set to a sign former Los Angeles Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner. The secondary wasn’t one of the Raiders’ most profound areas of need, albeit anything is a step up from Reggie Nelson. The Raiders didn’t have to break the bank either, as Joyner’s contract will pay him $41 million over four years.
The offseason is still young, but the moves the Raiders have made are bold ones. Oakland did make Antonio Brown the highest paid wide receiver in the league but his talent garners the coin. There’s no denying the heftiness of Trent Brown’s contract, but with the way the offensive line performed last season, the Raiders need all the help they can get. The new contracts for Erik Harris and Jonathan Hankins will solidify the core of this team helping to provide a sense of stability.
It is still early in the offseason but Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden are off to a terrific start. Raider Nation should feel excited with the aggressiveness the team has shown before the official start of the free agency signing period. Who knows what Mike Mayock will do in the following weeks and ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft, but if the team’s recent moves were an indication, a fun and exciting future is brewing in Oakland.