The latest clearance special came across the phones of Oakland Raiders players like a mobile auction update. Another cornerstone hawked. Another draft pick acquired. Another gavel dropped in this Jon Gruden-inspired roster auction, where no player is safe and the next item up for bid is the once-presumed franchise quarterback.
Derek Carr, step on up. Everyone else on the roster, keep those phones handy for updates.
To recap, here’s where we are in the now completely undeniable roster-gutting that is taking place inside the Raiders: Two of the three biggest pillars from the previous rebuild are gone. Defensive goliath Khalil Mack was dealt to the Chicago Bears in a move that players learned about largely on their phones. And Monday, once-promising No. 1 wideout Amari Cooper is gone – a move that once again was unceremoniously broken to the roster by way of social media and text messages, following a practice in which players saw Cooper pulled off the field with no reason given by the coaching staff.
At the rate Gruden is going with this whole thing, Carr is going to be listed on eBay and have no idea unless someone tells him.
So, yeah, let this serve as a memo to the remaining Raiders season-ticket holders: Getting something done before the team exits Oakland … that’s done. Unless you’re still willing to buy the spin the franchise will be selling the next 15 months. Something along the lines of, “Hey! Draft picks!”
If you’re really into seeing the silver-lining and don’t care about the Raiders basically stealing money from ticket-buyers the next two seasons, there’s always that whole “Let’s do that draft!” angle. Five first-round picks in the next two years is something to look forward to. Particularly if you’re a Las Vegas realtor looking to unload five multimillion-dollar properties in 2020.
There may be more picks to come, too. The trade deadline isn’t until Oct. 30 and the Raiders are open for business. Maybe even for Carr, who isn’t remotely safe anymore. There’s little reason to carry a middling $25 million per season quarterback in 2019 if there’s no hope of winning something tangible. There’s even less reason when Carr might actually be worth something in trade to another team come February (See: Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, New York Giants) and knocks a ton of cash off the 2020 salary cap by taking the $7.5 million dead money hit this coming offseason.
Whatever the motivation, it’s clear the Raiders and Gruden aren’t concerned with actually giving Carr more to work with. That’s not what a team has in mind when it trades its No. 1 wideout. A player who – while certainly disappointing of late – is still 24 years old and has far more talent to work with than any other skill position piece on the roster.
But let’s be real, there’s nothing surprising about this. Cooper hasn’t been safe since Mack was dealt. And now Carr won’t be safe after seeing Cooper go out the door. That’s the theme in Oakland now, where nobody is really safe outside of Gruden and team owner Mark Davis.
As an aside, I’m fairly positive Gruden has at least checked to see if he can trade Davis away. Probably more than once.
What’s scary now is that Gruden really has some momentum to take this thing down to the studs because fans have to be acutely aware that Oakland is in the midst of a total rebuild, leaving Gruden with little pressure to produce anything of substance in 2018. This is stunning for a team that went 12-4 in 2016 and was bellying up to the dining table for some red meat championship seasons. Two years later? The restaurant has been cleaned out and Gruden is lighting the place on fire like it’s a scene in “Goodfellas.”
There is no more pretending after the Cooper trade. No more non-denial denials, like the one Gruden pulled a little over a week ago – when Cooper was reportedly on the trade block.
Remember that one? On Oct. 14, after the Seattle Seahawks butchered the Raiders in London? Asked about a report Cooper was on the trade block, Gruden responded with this memorable fastball:
“I don’t know. No, I haven’t heard that,” he said. “You know, I’m not, I’m not, you know, I’m just, uh, sorry to have to deal with a lot of these reports. But, uh, I just hope Amari’s OK [from a concussion suffered that gameday]. Like I said, he’s going to be a big part of our pass offense.”
Eh, ok. Pass offense, past offense … it’s kind of the same thing, right?
At the very least, that quote conjures a serious question about the remainder of Gruden’s tenure: Why would anyone believe any denial out of his mouth now? Khalil Mack wasn’t going to get dealt until he did. Amari Cooper was going to be part of the future until he wasn’t. General manager Reggie McKenzie is a big part of all these decisions, unless he’s isn’t (and no, he isn’t).
It all seems like a lot of lies by an organization that thinks the fanbase is stupid, has no ability to remember things or doesn’t know how to use the internet. Either that, or the Raiders know they’re headed for Las Vegas in 2020 and they’re simply getting a jumpstart on that horizon.
But hey, see you at the stadium next Sunday, right Oakland fans? Buy a hot dog and a beer, and let’s do that draft!
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