It’s April Fools Day. The day where every headline should get some side-eye. And if it’s the slightest bit shocking, dismissed outright. The Raiders have had a few shocking developments of late which, had the news come out today, no one would believe it. But they’re real. They really happened. Sometimes for inexplicable reasons, some for logical reasons.
The move that shocked Raider Nation to its core. To dump their most steady performer at a critical position while taking on over $15 million in dead money? No. No way. Good one, though. Picking a move that is so ludicrous that it would immediately be recognized as a prank.
Well…it happened. Hudson was said to want to leave to join a team with which he could win. He agreed to void a $3.5 million bonus in his contract to bring his dead money to $12 million. It only saves the Raiders $1 million this year, but saves more in 2022.
And the Raiders did find a trade partner in the Cardinals, getting a 3rd round pick back in the deal. Then the Raiders signed former Texans center Nick Martin to compete with Hudson’s former backup Andre James.
Yes, the Raiders traded away Hudson. Yes, they like James. But he has started one game in his career and could have been held onto for two more years, next year with an RFA tender. Still, the Raiders decided to give him a three-year extension worth $12.5 million with $6 million guaranteed and brought in Nick Martin to compete with him.
Sure, James could turn into a Pro Bowler and make his contract ultimately affordable. Or he could lose out to Martin for the job and be overpaid to be a backup again. Or, if not, hope the former college tackle could move to guard. Something that could have been figured out the next two seasons when the former undrafted free agent could have been easily retained. So, they bought one extra year.
That’s right, eight. Niles Scott (reserve/future), David Irving (re-signed), Kendal Vickers (ERFA tender), Johnathan Hankins (re-signed), Solomon Thomas, Quinton Jefferson, Matt Dickerson, and Darius Philon.
They already had Maurice Hurst which means they have nine defensive tackles on the squad at current. They could form one of the more athletic baseball teams.
When they signed Solomon Thomas and Quinton Jefferson early in free agency, they seemed like they might be done at three-tech DT. Especially with so many other needs. Then they signed Dickerson and Philon a few days later.
They also added a couple of defensive ends in Gerri Green (reserve/future), and Yannick Ngakoue giving them six including Maxx Crosby, Clelin Ferrell, Arden Key, and Carl Nassib.
If you’re doing the math, that’s 15 defensive linemen. They have 17 players at all other positions on defense.
4. Raiders traded or cut four of five Oline starters
At one point this offseason the Raiders offensive line looked sketchy, to say the least. They cut LG Richie Incognito, traded RT Trent Brown, and traded center Rodney Hudson, and right guard Gabe Jackson. If you toss in that Denzelle Good was headed for free agency, there was some squirming in Raider Nation.
Ultimately, they brought back Incognito on a reduced contract and re-signed Good. Then they added center Nick Martin and extended center Andre James. Along with left tackle Kolton Miller, that would be the starting five should they play tomorrow. But in reality, they need to be thinking about adding a tackle and possibly a guard in the draft.
The Raiders had two Pro Bowlers last season. Both on offense. One of whom was running back Josh Jacobs. The needs the Raiders had were primarily on defense and (suddenly) the offensive line. So, of course, they go out and give Kenyan Drake the second-largest free-agent deal of any player they signed this offseason to be half of a running back by committee with Jacobs.
No question the Raiders could use a steady backup for Jacobs. They lost Devontae Booker in free agency. But they found Booker late last offseason for next to nothing and there were plenty of options on the market who would have filled that role for cheap. Instead, they will pay Drake $11 million on a two-year deal, meaning he will average nearly twice that of Jacobs.
This one was a shocker to me. The NFL is not usually lenient about such things. The Raiders lost their 2021 sixth-round pick (200 overall) as a penalty for repeated violations of the COVID-19 protocols. They appealed and got it back. See, not all surprising news is bad news.
While journeyman QB’s Andy Dalton and Ryan Fitzpatrick were getting signed for $10 million-plus, the Raiders were asking Marcus Mariota to drop his salary from $10.6 million to $3 million. And he agreed to do it.
Had he stuck to his guns, he either would have been traded or released. No doubt he would have been employed next season as a talented QB. The Raiders squeezed him a bit by holding onto him while other teams signed other quarterbacks and thus limiting his options considerably.
And in the end, he re-worked his deal, to drop it to $3.5 million with a no-trade clause. Ensuring that should the Raiders try to trade him at any point, he can nix the deal unless he likes the destination. Meanwhile, the Raiders retain arguably the best backup in the league and a viable starting option in Mariota.
This happened. Sort of. And with the Raiders’ need at right tackle, the idea that they brought signed their 37-year-old former Pro Bowl left tackle to fill that spot was believable for an instant. They did re-sign him…to a one-day contract so he could retire as a Raider.
Yes, he did make this case. Although, it was inadvertent. Back in 2019, when he was asked about the Mack trade, he made his case by listing off a bunch of players the Raiders wouldn’t have had they not traded Mack. When viewed now, it sounds like he’s making the case to keep Mack because all the players he listed ended up busts with the Raiders and are now no longer with the team.
“If we did come up with the money to make the [Khalil Mack] contract happen last year, we wouldn’t have… Trent Brown, we wouldn’t have Antonio Brown, we would not have Lamarcus Joyner, we wouldn’t have Vontaze Burfict, and we wouldn’t have Tyrell Williams.”
I mean, this along with the whole “Good pass rushers are hard to find” comment from a few years back and… Woof.
We still haven’t figured out exactly why CBS would let go of Rich Gannon. Easily one of their best analysts. I would be shocked (again) if he didn’t pop up with another network soon.