Did the Las Vegas Raiders really have the league’s worst offseason? No, but let’s not act like this is a reason to celebrate.
ESPN ranks Raiders’ offseason No.32 in the NFL…
Last week, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell put out part one of a two-part series in which he ranks every NFL team’s offseason moves. The Raiders came in at number 32. One of the main reasons cited was all of the turnover on the offensive line. Also, there are the questionable decisions to give Kenyan Drake a fat contract and take Alex Leatherwood at 17 overall. Finally, Barnwell does not seem to have much confidence in Gus Bradley.
Was the Offseason Really That Bad?
None of Barnwell’s criticisms were really all that unfair. I think he may, like many people, be overreacting a bit about the offensive line. The changes that were made should be more or less a wash. What they lost in terms of talent they likely gained in terms of scheme fit. I have already made my thoughts clear on the Leatherwood pick. I think it might be one of the franchise’s worst draft picks of the 21st century, and that is saying something. Drake was overpaid but will be a valuable addition. The Raiders’ offense still looks like a top 10 unit after this offseason.
The defense, however, is still an area of concern. The addition of Yannick Ngakoue should bolster the sack numbers, and the moves made in the secondary should help make that unit more stable, but personnel is not really the issue. Whether or not the Raiders have improved this offseason boils down to one question: Is Bradley a significant upgrade over Paul Guenther? The Raiders are betting their playoff hopes on Bradley’s ability to take roughly the same group that was around the bottom of the league last year, and turn it into at least, an average defense. Based on the performance of Bradley’s Chargers defenses over the last couple of years, that seems like a tall order. If he does pull it off, I think it will speak to the incompetence of Guenther more than anything.
Worst in the NFL?
I’ll be the first one to admit that the Raiders did not have a good offseason. I think that they put way too much faith in the growth of their controversial draft picks and a change in defensive coordinator. Was it the worst offseason in the league? Absolutely not. Look at the dumpster fire going on in Houston right now. The Green Bay Packers are in a standoff with Aaron Rodgers. The Detroit Lions lost an emerging star in Kenny Golladay and replaced Matt Stafford with Jared Goff (but at least they will feast on kneecaps, right). The Atlanta Falcons’ biggest move of the offseason was trading Julio Jones at a laughable discount.
Chicago was seen as a quarterback away this offseason, how did that go? They swung and missed on everybody (including Derek Carr) and will now hope that rookie Justin Fields can start right away or else they will be stuck with Andy Dalton. The Washington Football Team was in a similar boat this offseason, they are now all in on ‘Fitzmagic.’
The Raiders are an easy target…
There are at least a dozen other teams that had about as stagnant of an offseason as the Raiders. However, out of everyone, the Raiders are of course selected to be crowned the worst. It is understandable, the Silver and Black are an easy target. Everyone likes to laugh at the Raiders. Honestly, the Raiders’ brass has only themselves to blame. After the last few years, Jon Gruden, and to a lesser extent Mike Mayock, have lost all benefit of the doubt. Every decision they make that goes against conventional wisdom deserves to be scrutinized because they have been wrong so many times before. If the Raiders want to stop being the butt of jokes, they have to take the next step and win at least 10 games this year. Only time will tell if they are capable of that.
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*Top Photo: Associated Press/Jeff Chiu