Las Vegas Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler received mixed reviews from Raider Nation after both free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft. That’s putting it nicely, in all honesty—there’s a sect of fans that won’t be happy with any move, regardless of the outcome. That being said, let’s examine three moves Ziegler made that either didn’t make sense, didn’t benefit the Raiders, or both.
Dave Ziegler addressing the quarterback position (or the lack thereof)
This is the easiest one to nail down. The news broke that Jimmy Garoppolo missed his first press conference as a Raider due to a failed physical, which is what we all thought happened. Despite Raiders beat writers claiming, “all was well,” it is now public knowledge that the Raiders released Derek Carr only to sign an injured Jimmy Garoppolo. Whether or not Garoppolo will be healthy in time to start Week 1 of the 2023 season is unknown.
Looking back, there were moves Ziegler could have made to remedy this.
There were a number of quarterbacks available in the draft that the Raiders could have traded up to select – not Aidan O’Connell – or explored as free-agent quarterbacks. The Raiders’ own star receiver, Davante Adams, advocated for the team to entice Aaron Rodgers to join him in the desert. However, Ziegler thought Green Bay wanted too much for their now-former signal caller, and the trade talks quickly made little-to-no progress. Now, Adams has to rely on an impaired “Jimmy G” to get him the ball.
Overall, Dave Ziegler’s first “worst move” is arguably the worst of them all: failing to address the quarterback position. The quarterback is the most important player on the football field, and the Raiders have a massive question mark regarding who will be their starting QB in Week 1 of the 2023 season against the Denver Broncos.
Not trading away Darren Waller for a second-round draft pick
The Kansas City Chiefs are an elite organization. Why? The easy answer is that they have one of the best quarterbacks in the league with Patrick Mahomes. Another answer is that they have the best tight end in the league; possibly one of the best of all-time, Travis Kelce. The Raiders may not have had Kelce, but they had Darren Waller.
Emphasis on the word “had.”
Ziegler and company traded Waller to the New York Giants in March for a third-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. When Waller was healthy, he was both a top-three tight end in the NFL and a focal point of the Raiders’ offense. Granted, Darren Waller missed eight games in 2022, but all signs indicated he was ready to go this season.
What makes this such a bad move is Las Vegas could have traded Waller to the Green Bay Packers in November for a second-round selection. The Raiders also lost tight end Foster Moreau in the offseason, now placing all their chips on Michael Mayer, a rookie tight end selected in the second-round of the draft. Mayer could end up being a star, but going with a proven entity over an unknown one makes more sense. Not a great move by Ziegler.
Hey Raiders; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…
Special teams are one of the few units in professional football that doesn’t get a lot of glamor or press coverage. The Raiders’ special teams kicking unit, comprised of long-snapper Trent Sieg, kicker Daniel Carlson, and punter A.J. Cole, was wildly successful. Carlson completed 34-of-37 field goal attempts in 2022, having a better completion percentage than Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker. The trio has been together since 2019 with Cole and Carlson both making the Pro Bowl. Both Cole and Carlson have attributed some of their success to their long-snapper, Sieg.
Sieg was released in the offseason and replaced by Denver Broncos long snapper Jacob Bobenmoyer. Raiders’ special teams coach Tom McMahon coached Bobenmoyer in Denver – it would not be surprising if McMahon advocated for his guy to come in. The issue with this move is the Raiders’ locker room was likely already in a fragile state given their 6-11 season record. This is on top of blowing four double-digit leads in the same season.
Players were reportedly upset about the release of Sieg. When the team is already working to come out of a losing season, added frustration doesn’t help (t/h Vic Tafur).
“There was some surprise and anger among players when the Raiders signed former Broncos long snapper Jacob Bobenmoyer and released five-year veteran Trent Sieg, who is extremely close with wildly successful kicker Daniel Carlson and punter AJ Cole. Why break up the trio when they are doing so well together?”
For Ziegler’s sake, he should hope that Carlson and A.J. Cole continue to be successful with their new long-snapper.
Ziegler’s report card this offseason varies depending on who you speak to. However, it is pretty difficult to put any positive spin on these three decisions.
*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images