As free agency arrives, Raiders roster looks more 6-10 than 12-4

Updated March 12, 2018 - 6:35 pm

Let’s play a game of then and now, only in reverse.

Now: Free agency opens for the NFL on Wednesday, and given the Raiders have a roster in which some position groups own more holes than Donut Mania, it’s realistic to assume head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie will look to land immediate skill.

Then: Should such deals and any rookies from the upcoming draft who can add results help the Raiders earn a playoff spot next season, Gruden and McKenzie would deserve consideration for league awards specific to their roles.

Which is one way of saying the Raiders went 12-4 two years ago, 6-10 last season and are far closer to the latter right now.

Translation: Until proved otherwise, if one of those records was a fluke, it sure wasn’t 6-10.

The Raiders are, for the most part, sitting in such an unenviable place because a majority of draft picks over the last several seasons have gone the way of “Speed 2” for cinematic relevance.

There just isn’t much to applaud.

The further 2014 moves into the distance, the more a spotlight should be shown on what came before and after that momentous haul of Khalil Mack and Derek Carr and Gabe Jackson and Justin Ellis and TJ Carrie.

Rome wasn’t built in a day — it actually took around 276 years — and not one draft class for the Raiders, no matter how deep and capable, was going to be enough to produce a championship quality team.

“We need some talent to rise within this organization, I’ll say that,” Gruden offered at the recent scouting combine in Indianapolis. “In our last three drafts — I’m looking at it — other than (wide receiver) Amari Cooper, we need some of these young players to really explode on the scene. It starts there. We need some young people in the organization right now to emerge.”

It was a roundabout way of saying McKenzie’s choices haven’t proved all that memorable.

The NFL’s average career length differs depending on the source. The league’s Players Association says it’s about about 3.3 years. The NFL claims it’s six years for players who make a team’s opening day roster in their rookie season.

Things sure look a little better for McKenzie if the former is more true than not.

The Raiders don’t have a player from the general manager’s two classes prior to that 2014 jackpot, and have since produced just three-full time starters from drafts: Cooper, Mario Edwards Jr. and Karl Joseph.

It’s why this free agency period could prove so vital to the Raiders competing in the AFC West next season or again showing themselves to be a non factor.

They might have begun the week with about $25 million available in cap space, but such is a fluid number that will change in the coming days.

Saying goodbye to some

Already, the Raiders cut cornerback Sean Smith, after which it was learned he would plead guilty to a felony assault charge and spend a year in jail. Smith was probably on his way out even without the whole incarceration storyline, given moving on from him also meant eliminating an $8.5 million cap hit with no dead money on the books. Easy choice.

The team has also parted ways with tackle Marshall Newhouse and his $1.55 million salary, but signed wide receiver/punt returner Griff Whalen, who may or may not be the guy who played the role of Todd in “Alien Abduction.”

Ellis is returning at defensive tackle on a three-year deal.

But other key questions need answering:

Keep or cut wide receiver Michael Crabtree?

What to do about running back Marshawn Lynch?

When to give Mack his lucrative new deal?

It means the cap number remains in continuous flux, and yet this part is obvious: The Raiders have all kinds of issues to address, beginning at cornerback and moving to defensive line and not forgetting linebacker and checking in at free safety and settling things at wide receiver and running back and now even offensive line.

It won’t all be solved during free agency and the draft, but for a roster that is a whole lot more 6-10 than 12-4 right now, a significant portion needs to be for any realistic hope of a playoff run next season.

Let the moving parts (and signings) begin.

And, for the Raiders sake, hope it doesn’t take 276 years, because I’m pretty sure Gruden is only signed for 243.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

Raiders Videos
Vegas Nation: Raiders Prepare for the Browns
Host Bryan Salmond discusses the Raiders and Browns seasons so far before Sundays game.
Raiders Adopt Student Resource Room At Robert Taylor Elementary School In Henderson
Former Raiders player Leo Gray and Robert Taylor Elementary School principal Kim Basham talk about the new resource room at the school on Sept. 25, 2018 in Henderson, Nevada. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Nation: Nugent Suffers Injury in Miami
Raiders reporter Michael Gehlken talks about Mike Nugent's injury in Miami and the Raiders poor turnover differential through the team's first three games.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Drop to 0-3 with Loss to the Dolphins
Bryan Salmond and Gilbert Manzano are in studio while Michael Gehlken and Ed Graney report from Miami on the Raiders loss to the Miami Dolphins.
More information on design of Raiders' practice facility in Henderson
Officials plan to finish the Raiders' Henderson headquarters by spring 2020. The planned facility would be home to offices, training facilities and 4 1/2 football fields.
Vegas Nation: Leon Hall battles sickle cell illness
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken talks about Leon Hall's sickle cell illness that prevented the cornerback from flying home with the team last week in Denver.
Vegas Nation Mailbag: Week 3
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal sports writer Gilbert Manzano answer your burning questions about the Raiders and Jon Gruden.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Practice After Loss To Broncos
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over how Jon Gruden is improving the team after the 20-19 loss to the Denver Broncos.
Gruden touts Carr's pocket presence
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden hopes to get bigger plays from Derek Carr as the season rolls along, and the coach praises Carr's ability to feel pressure in the pocket.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Pass Rush Noticeably Lacking
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken talks about another poor pass rushing performance by the Raiders defense as the team looks ahead to Miami.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Fall To The Broncos
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond, Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney, Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken and sports writer Gilbert Manzano goes over the Raiders 19-20 loss against the Denver Broncos.
Vegas Nation: Kolton Miller prepares for Von Miller matchup on Sunday
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken previews the upcoming matchup between rookie left tackle Kolton Miller and Broncos linebacker Von Miller.
Vegas Nation: Bryant ready to play for Raiders immediately
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken talks about Martavis Bryant's return to the Raiders practice field, as well as a potential suspension for the wide receiver.
Martavis Bryant "Very Surprised" with Raiders Re-Signing
Raiders wide receiver Martavis Bryant speaks with the media for the first time since the team cut and re-signed him within a ten day time frame.
Vegas Nation Mailbag
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal sports writer Gilbert Manzano goes over Raider Nation's reaction to the Raiders loss to the Rams.
Vegas Nation: Martavis Bryant Returns to the Raiders
Bryan Salmond is in studio and Michael Gehlken reports from Alameda as Martavis Bryant returns to the Raiders and Oakland picks up to new defensive linemen.
Gruden, Carr Believe Bryant is in a "Good Place"
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and starting quarterback Derek Carr talk about Martavis Bryant returning with the team after being cut over a week ago.
Las Vegas Raiders Stadium Progress
Construction at Las Vegas Raiders stadium as seen on September 11, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Nation: Raiders fall short in Week 1 to the Rams
Bryan Salmond and Gilbert Manzano are in studio recapping the first game of 2018 for the Oakland Raiders. Michael Gehlken and Ed Graney report from Oakland.
Vegas Nation: Raiders fall short in Week 1 to the Rams
Bryan Salmond and Gilbert Manzano are in studio recapping the first game of 2018 for the Oakland Raiders. Michael Gehlken and Ed Graney report from Oakland.
Sports Betting Spotlight: Las Vegas sports books will be Raiders fans in season opener
Las Vegas sports books will be big Raiders fans in Oakland's season opener. Mat Luschek/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Vegas Nation Stadium Show: Raiders name 4 locations for stadium parking
Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney and business reporter Rick Velotta discuss the Raiders' four proposed stadium parking locations and what that could mean for tailgating and traffic to and from the stadium.
Vegas Nation: AJ McCarron Learns Gruden's Playbook
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over AJ McCarron learning Gruden's offense before the Raiders play the L.A. Rams on Monday.
Kolton Miller "excited", "a little nervous" for regular season debut
Raiders starting rookie left tackle Kolton miller talks about his impending regular season debut against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday.
Vegas Nation Mailbag: Khalil Mack trade
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal sports writer Gilbert Manzano go over what Raider Nation thinks about the Raiders before their first game against the Rams.
Amari Cooper Ready for Monday Night Football
Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper looks forward to team's season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.
Raiders BBQ
On Friday, July 20, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden hosted — and paid for — a free barbecue for Raiders fans. Gruden teamed up with the Raiders and Ricky's Sports Theater and Grill in San Leandro, Calif. as a way to show thanks and gratitude for the support of the Raider Nation. Over 500 Raiders fans showed up to the event that had music, raffles, and appearances from Raiders alumni. This was the final event before the Raiders begin their training camp next week in Napa. Chris Booker Las Vegas Review-Journal
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like