ALAMEDA, Calif. — Ryan Switzer was traded Monday for the second time in four months.
The Raiders acquired a 2019 fifth-round pick to send the slot receiver and a 2019 sixth-round choice to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Switzer initially was acquired in April from the Dallas Cowboys but became expendable a couple weeks ago when Griff Whalen surpassed him on the depth chart during joint practices with the Detroit Lions.
Despite early rave views from Gruden, Switzer struggled to demonstrate the consistency required to stave off competition.
Wide receiver Dwayne Harris was considered to have greater value on special teams, although that is not a recent development; special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia knew what he had in Harris all offseason. Also believed to be part of the picture, attempts to trade wide receiver Seth Roberts have been unsuccessful.
“I think he’s a good player,” coach Jon Gruden said of Switzer. “He deserves an opportunity. We want to help him, obviously, get going in a new offense.”
Whalen suffered turf toe Friday against the Green Bay Packers. The injury will render Whalen unavailable for the start of the regular season. Officially, he was placed Monday on injured reserve but is a candidate for an injury settlement. This would allow him to be re-signed this season.
Despite Whalen’s injury, the Raiders were ready to part with Switzer. Monday’s transaction arose nearly four months to the day of when Oakland flipped defensive tackle Jihad Ward, a 2016 second-round pick, to Dallas for Switzer on April 28. This is also the second wide receiver trade in about four months between the Steelers and Raiders. On April 26, the Raiders sent a third-round pick to Pittsburgh for Martavis Bryant.
As of Tuesday, Oakland could carry as many as seven wide receivers following Saturday’s roster cutdown from 90 to 53 players. The group might consist of Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, Bryant, Roberts, Johnny Holton, Harris and rookie Marcell Ateman.
If among the final group, Ateman likely would be inactive until Sept. 10 against the Los Angeles Rams. Roberts long has been a trade candidate, but his contract has proven difficult to move, given its $2 million salary for 2018 is fully guaranteed. He missed a portion of camp and early preseason to a concussion.
Harris and Holton are primary special-teamers. The former will be the Raiders’ kickoff and punt returner this season, Gruden said Monday. The two speedsters are expected to form a duo as flyers in punt coverage as well.
“He caught five touchdown passes a couple years ago from Eli (Manning),” Gruden said of Harris’ time with the New York Giants quarterback. “He’s a capable guy coming in there in the slot. He can go outside. He showed some separation when he did play the other night. Had a good return called back. He’s a versatile player. We can hand him the ball. We can do a lot of things with him. He’s tough. He was just hurt last year. That was why you didn’t hear from him. He’s a Pro Bowl special-teamer.
“I really think a couple of years ago when the Raiders lost (wide receiver Andre) Holmes and (safety Brynden) Trawick and (linebacker Daren) Bates, I think it really hurt their special teams. We want to try to get a couple core guys that Bisaccia can count on every week. We’ll start with Harris.”