Raiders

NFL trade deadline: Pros, cons on players Raiders could try to acquire

NFL trade deadline: Pros, cons on players Raiders could try to acquire

The Raiders have made several huge trades during the Jon Gruden era. The latest came Monday, shipping former first-round draft pick Gareon Conley to Houston for a third-round pick.

A full week remains before the Oct. 29 NFL trade deadline, leaving plenty of time to make more moves to either acquire talent or draft capital vital to this roster rebuild.

The Raiders are in an interesting spot at 3-3, currently the AFC’s No. 7 seed, sitting just outside the playoff picture. They’re a half-game behind Houston for a coveted postseason spot and play the Texans on Sunday in a pivotal conference matchup nearing the season’s halfway point.

The Raiders will be active discussing trade possibilities over the next week and are expected to be buyers, armed with two first-round picks and three third-rounders. They can go after most anyone they want, though the capital is vital to the long-term plan of building a young foundation through the NFL draft.

It’s hard to see the Raiders shipping a first-round pick, but those third-round selections could come in handy this week. That could mean they essentially trade Conley from a position of strength -- they’re deep and young at cornerback -- and use one of the third-rounders to fortify a position of weakness without hindering them much on draft day.

It’s hard to predict what Gruden will do, except this: He’s not afraid to be bold. Whether the deal works out is another matter, but he could try to accelerate the team’s progress with a big move in trade.

Here are a few targets the Raiders should consider, that could help rush the passer, add linebacker depth or even contribute to a receiver corps being revamped as this season goes along, with pros and cons of adding a particular player.

DL Michael Bennett, New England Patriots

Pros: Bennett doesn’t seem thrilled with his role in New England and was suspended against the Jets after an argument with his position coach. He’s well into his 30s but has always gotten to the quarterback and would have a huge presence along the Raiders defensive front. He would naturally fit a four-man front and help against the run and pass.

Given his perceived dissatisfaction in New England and willingness to speak his mind, the price might not be excessive to land someone so talented. He’s older, but can still play at a high level.

Cons: He’s set to make $7 million in his age 34 season, but his 2020 employment is based on a team option, per overthecap.com. While an increased role in Oakland is a lock, continued winning is not. Might he be upset getting shipped from a Super Bowl favorite to a team that could fall out of the playoff picture?

DE Carlos Dunlap, Cincinnati Bengals

Pros: Dunlap worked with Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther for years and should be able to step right in and contribute due to his scheme knowledge. He’s a massive player at 6-foot-6 and 280 pounds. He only had one sack this season but has been getting pressure and is a guy who has at least eight sacks for six straight seasons. He’s going to produce.

He’s 30 now, and should still have some good years left. Dunlap could also mentor a fleet of young Raiders pass rushers while anchoring one end. He’s also under contract and could be an expensive, yet controllable asset they could move on from if thing don’t work out long term.

Cons: This is a big one. Dunlap hasn’t played since Week 5 due to a knee injury but has been shockingly durable throughout his career. He also doesn’t come cheap, with hefty base salaries of $7.8 million in 2020 and $10.1 million in 2021. They can afford those sums or get out from under them if he doesn’t work out long term.

Edge rusher Ryan Kerrigan, Washington

Pros: The Raiders need production up front, and Kerrigan could certainly provide that. He has never had less than nine sacks in his career and has 97 over eight-plus seasons. He isn’t cheap but is coming up on the end of his deal, with Washington unlikely to be competitive before it expires.

The Raiders could add a leader and regular producer up front to anchor the line and take pressure off younger players to make an instant impact. He’s owed $11.5 million in base salary next season but the number isn’t guaranteed. The Raiders could rent, or lock in his 2020 salary and keep him around to start their Las Vegas run.

Cons: Kerrigan has logged a lot of miles already, hovering around 850 snaps a season since his rookie year. He also isn’t a perfect scheme fit, generally known as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He is 249 pounds and could rush off the edge in a more tradition 4-3 Raiders front. He also only has three sacks thus far, but production could increase by getting off a bad team.

Another hitch: Washington might make a Kerrigan trade cost prohibitive considering how well liked this long-tenured edge rusher is. It takes two to tango. Will Washington dance?

LB Preston Brown, Cincinnati Bengals

Pros: Brown seems to have fallen out of favor in Cincinnati and could be available for cheap. That’s because he has struggled this season, so he should be available for cheap. The Raiders don’t necessarily need a starting linebacker, with Tahir Whitehead and Nicholas Morrow playing most every snap.

They are woefully thin at that spot, however, and Brown could learn the scheme while providing depth and injury protection at an important spot. It might cost a draft pick way down the board, which might make this depth acquisition a possibility.

Cons: Will this move change the Raiders fortunes? Probably not, unless Morrow or Whitehead get hurt. One could argue for saving the draft pick over making the trade, but the Raiders are so thin there. It depends on how much confidence they have in Justin Phillips to play significant snaps if a player goes down.

WR A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

Pros: When healthy, he’s a true No. 1 receiver who must be respected and feared. That’s something the Raiders don’t have and is the missing link for a truly dominant offense. Green would also set the receiver corps right, with Tyrell Williams as a No. 2 and solid options in Zay Jones and Trevor Davis after that.

If he can get healthy soon after a bad ankle injury, he could help the Raiders down the stretch and become a free agent at season’s end.

Cons: There are a few problems with this move. Green won’t be cheap despite possibly being a rental. He also isn’t expected to return until after the trade deadline, so there’s no sure thing he gets back to 100 percent this season.

[RELATED: Why Conley trade might not be Raiders' last before deadline]

Also, how many receivers should the Raiders trade for? They’ve acquired three since March. And don’t forget that this NFL draft class is loaded with quality receivers.

They’re better off standing pat at the position and grabbing an excellent, controllable prospect this spring.

Raiders' Oakland finale is end of an era for longtime Black Hole residents

Raiders' Oakland finale is end of an era for longtime Black Hole residents

OAKLAND -- Andrew DiDomenico is a lifelong, diehard Raiders fan. The San Jose native was shattered when his favorite team left for Los Angeles after the 1981 season and so thrilled when the Silver and Black returned to Oakland that he threw down cash for season tickets in the Coliseum’s southern end zone.

That’s all it was back in 1995, just a ground floor seat in a huge stadium with a unique view of the action.

It quickly morphed into something truly unique, a fan section unlike any other.

“I have been down here for 23 years, I think,” DiDomenico said before Sunday’s loss to the Titans at Oakland Coliseum. “I see the same people that I’ve seen for so long now. There are just a few of us who have been around since they came back, when the Black Hole was actually invented.”

The Black Hole was formed by Rob Rivera and some friends back in 1996, who set the tone for a rowdy, at times aggressive group of Raiders loyalists that grew and grew and now dominates sections 104-107 along the southern end zone.

“This place is legendary,” said Rivera, the Black Hole president. “There are so many good times and good memories with good people that it’s hard to pick one, two or even three. …There are probably some that we can’t repeat.”

We won’t chronicle them here, not even the craziest from the 1990s, when the Black Hole was an anarchist’s paradise not to be trifled with. Yes, that includes the experience of one Raider -- Rivera wasn’t naming names, but it was Desmond Howard -- who got his car rocked back and forth after being too happy leaving the Coliseum after a heartbreaking loss.

Those anecdotes are interesting (and often R-rated), but that’s not what this story’s about.

This is about the end of an era.

The Raiders will relocate to Las Vegas in 2020 and bid farewell to Oakland Coliseum after Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a point of devastation that might send tears streaking through silver and black face paint.

“It’s like a second home,” Rivera said. “I feel like I’ve been here all my life. There are so many great memories in this place. It’s just unbelievable. This place should be revered like Green Bay or other legendary venues. Yeah, it’s old and torn down and it’s ugly, but it’s ours. Because of all the great teams and the great games that have taken place in this place, it’s beautiful to us.

“… The Raiders are on their way out of town, and we’re heartbroken.”

While residents of the Black Hole can be rough around the edges, they aren’t quite as scary as some costumes make them seem. Passion and unwavering loyalty pervade down there, as they always have. Troublemaking no longer is a defining Black Hole characteristic.

That’s especially true of those closest to the field, who enter the stadium early and line the rails before the game and stand and scream from kickoff to final whistle. They welcome players vaulting into the stands after a score. They revel in moments when coach Jon Gruden visits after a win. They love dressing up and creating a raucous homefield advantage.

There’s something else going on here that you don’t see in CBS celebration shots or images of scowling intimidators with spiked shoulder pads. This is a community bound by a love of the Raiders valued above all else, far more than its rough-and-tumble reputation. While tourists come and go, most of the members of the Black Hole have been sitting next to each other for years. They come together a few Sundays per year to eat and drink (a lot) and celebrate their team through wins and a whole lot of losses.

But, when the Raiders provide something to cheer, there’s nothing quite like being in the Black Hole.

“The energy here is electric,” DiDomenico said. “Sometimes it takes a while to get everybody going but once that happens, it shakes you inside. The energy comes from inside all the fans in the Black Hole. I’m nuts [when I’m] out here. I’ll try to get everybody yelling early to get things going. When the crowd gets going, it’s just crazy.

"All the people around here are wonderful.”

Bonds are superglue strong now, and it’s tough to imagine the family ripping apart after Sunday’s game.

“It’s sad,” DiDomenico said. “I’ve been a Raiders fan since their inception. I have been coming to all the games since they came back from L.A. and it’s really tough that a lot of us here won’t be making every game out there. I mean, it’s a trip.”

Some Black Hole residents have bought 2020 season tickets for when the Raiders move to Las Vegas. Many have not. Adding a flight and hotel to a full season pass isn’t as economically feasible and will limit the number of games attended by some. Count DiDomenico among them.

Those with seats could try to recongregate in one end zone, but there is no dedicated Black Hole section at Allegiant Stadium. There wasn’t one at Oakland Coliseum when the Raiders came back. The Black Hole grew organically and must do so again to carry on in Las Vegas.

While there’s some confusion among fans I spoke to about additional rules in the new stadium, a Raiders source said the team isn’t putting restrictions on fans wanting to costume up or put on face paint or form communities in the stands.

It’s undeniable that the fan experience in a state-of-the-art Las Vegas venue will be different. It surely will be sanitized somewhat. Some traditions will carry on. Others will cease on Sunday against the Jaguars, when this Oakland chapter of Raiders history comes to a close.

[RELATED: Carr, Raiders know 'nobody cares' about cause of fatal skid]

DiDomenico plans to treat this Sunday like any other. The Gilroy resident will set up his American flag canopy in Oakland Coliseum’s A Lot, next to friends he has tailgated with over the last decade. He’ll make margaritas, lay out a spread and share food with anyone coming through.

Then he’ll don the construction hardhat with an American flag, an eagle and a Raiders shield that he has worn since 9/11, already sporting a similarly designed shirt that reads, “Fear This!” and head into the stadium. He’ll head down to the first row of the Black Hole, next to Gorilla Rilla and his friends for one last stay in a truly unique environment.

“Everybody wants to sit down here. And we don’t sit. We stand,” Didomenico said. “It’s a zoo, but it’s awesome.”

Raiders know changes are 'necessary evil' as awful stretch continues

Raiders know changes are 'necessary evil' as awful stretch continues

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have been blown out in three straight games. The latest rout came Sunday in a 42-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans. The first two happened away from the friendly confines of the Coliseum. This one happened here in the East Bay, the second-to-last time the Raiders will play in Oakland.

That means something to head coach Jon Gruden, who doesn’t want the fire to go out in Oakland without the Raiders making a final stand. The Raiders have one more chance to impress here next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Gruden vowed to turn over every rock he can to produce a better effort than what the home fans saw this past Sunday.

That’s especially true of a defense that allowed 35 points -- the other seven came on a fumble returned for a touchdown -- and an incredible 552 yards to the Ryan Tannehill-led Titans.

The coverage was poor. The pass rush was bad. Tackling was subpar. Those facts have flown below the radar, with all the ire aimed at quarterback Derek Carr and his decision to throw it away on 4th-and-goal from the 1.

Poor defense is a major problem, though yards allowed have been an issue most of the season. Opportunistic and clutch play got the defense by in victories but has been absent in defeat. Against the Titans, that unit may have reached a new low.

“It’s like getting punched in the stomach. It knocks some wind out of you,” Gruden said. “Anytime a team takes the ball the length of the field that many times, it’s hard to do in this league. We’ve done a pretty good this year offensively of sustaining some long 80-yard drives, but sometimes you got to win the game of field position, you’ve got to force a three-and-out. We weren’t able to do that yesterday from the jump and very, very concerned about it and we’re going to make some changes. We’re going to get it right.”

One problem: there aren’t many changes left to make. It’s hard to imagine any promoted practice-squad players making a quantifiable difference. There’s enough depth to make some changes at linebacker. We’ve seen snaps dwindle from certain defensive linemen. The secondary could get shaken up a little bit. All that, however, might be shuffling deck chairs on a sinking ship.

[RELATED: Gruden says Jacobs, Brown could possibly return to Raiders]

That won’t stop Gruden from trying. He refuses to wave a white flag on the season, even if better options aren’t crystal clear.

“[Recent play] is sickening. [Changes are] tough, but it’s a necessary evil,” Gruden said. “Right now, we’ve got to play better, and we’re going to play better, and there will be changes. There will be changes. What happened yesterday will not happen again. I can’t allow it to happen.”