Just over two months ago, I wrote about how the Las Vegas Raiders need Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler to remain an audacious duo. The need for the head coach and general manager, respectively, to be bold is strong as they’re remaking the image of the Silver and Black to their liking. Yes, that includes signing Jimmy Garoppolo.
But let me tell you this: I’m glad they weren’t supremely dauntless. There’s a fine line between intrepid and reckless. And it was relieving to see the Raiders under Ziegler and McDaniels display intelligence.
What am I referring to?
Las Vegas’ exploration of trading up to the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft is bold. Leaping from the seventh overall spot to the premier selection would’ve been as audacious a move as the Raiders could’ve executed. Yet, the Chicago Bears price tag for the golden ticket was downright exorbitant:
- 2023 first-round pick
- 2023 second-round pick
- Two future first-round picks
- A future second-round pick.
The price was too steep for the Raiders…
Outlandish is one way to sum up that haul. Ludicrous is another. According to The Athletic, Ziegler explored, but quickly decided that window shopping was good enough after hearing the prohibitive cost. The Carolina Panthers, on the other hand, met the asking price by sending their 2023 first- and second-round selections, a 2024 first-rounder, a 2025 second-rounder, and wide receiver D.J. Moore to the Windy City. Moore, taken with the 24th overall pick in the 2018 draft, is essentially the substitute for the future first-round pick.
Fortunately for Raider Nation, the team didn’t mortgage its future by parting with premium draft picks to jump up six spots. One can argue the swap would be worth it because it gives Las Vegas a pick of their quarterback prospect litter — presuming, naturally, of course, that the first overall pick this April would be a signal caller. But losing valuable draft capital that could turn into multiple starters would be detrimental for a Raiders team led by the build-through-the-draft-minded Ziegler. It’s best to keep the picks and invest in a number of rookies who can develop in the desert.
And that’s what Ziegler did.
Keep the picks, gain another one (a third-rounder, pick No. 100) by trading for oft-injured but stud tight end Darren Waller, and ink a familiar veteran in free agency. And thus, Jimmy Garoppolo…
Ziegler and McDaniels charted a proper course for the Silver and Black. Now it’s up for the GM (who has the final say on the Raiders’ roster) and the head honcho to get the team to a much better destination than the 6-11 season of 2022.
Say what you will about the choice the Raiders power duo made in Jimmy Garoppolo. The addition can be showered with praise and venom, with neither side being right or wrong. Because the roster still has its glaring holes, mainly on defense. And what propelled Jimmy G to a stellar record as a starting quarterback was buoyed by good defenses. When he arrived in San Francisco in 2017, the 49ers’ defense ranked: 25th, 28th, 8th, 17th, 9th, and the first-ranked unit in terms of points allowed in the six years Jimmy Garoppolo was in San Francisco.
In comparison, the Raiders haven’t deployed a top-10 defense in points allowed since 2002 (sixth overall).
Even the Patriot Way, which seems to be increasing by the minute in Las Vegas, was predicated on sound quarterback play backed by a competent defense.
It’s been over two decades since Raider Nation could use “competent” to describe the Raiders defense.
*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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