It's time to get over the “Jon Gruden Broke Faith With Oakland” thing, because (a) we know he did and is comfortable having done so, (b) he views his mandate differently than anyone else because Mark Davis told him he could, and (c) he gets first-round draft picks for things he doesn’t like.
But if you're bothered by the “But he said Amari Cooper would be the centerpiece of the offense” part of the thing, well, now you know that when he speaks, he speaks with the kiss of death. The next time he says something glowing about an Oakland Raider he didn't bring in, Allied Van Lines is getting the first call.
Gruden extracted a first-round draft pick from the Dallas Cowboys for Cooper on Monday, reiterating that anyone currently a Raider not named Marshawn Lynch can be an ex-Raider in a heartbeat. That Gruden got a first-rounder for Cooper speaks to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' own desperation as the team’s gasbaggy general manager, but it's also the latest in a series of reminders that the Raiders in their current state of disarray essentially are a giant 53-person couch placed out on the front lawn for anyone to grab.
The surprise here is that Cooper fetched such a price, because his glow had faded (from star to desk lamp) so quickly in Oakland that he seemed like a particularly distressed piece. Once you accept the fact that the Raiders are for sale, as a set or in pieces, and that your hopes for something great and parade-ish to come out of these last 25 years of Raiders football, the Cooper deal seems a lot less offensive than the Khalil Mack trade.
Of course, Mack is an elite player. Cooper never was, at least not as a Raider. Maybe there is a new life for him in Texas, but at least as a Cowboy, he won’t be expected to become the offensive focus (see Elliott, Ezekiel) as he was in Oakland when the franchise had no face at all.
That’s the one dismal truth -- that a player who came with so many promises made on his behalf never delivered (or was allowed to deliver) on those promises. He struggled to catch the ball early, had a brief renaissance as Derek Carr’s first target, and then lost more and more favor until Gruden came and finished the deal by saying how important Cooper was to the team’s future.
You can say that Gruden was correct about Cooper in one way, though -- he is important to the team’s future, just as someone else.
It also serves as a handy reminder to all of us that all the hand-wringing about the Raiders’ inability to target Cooper more often was another example that what you see very often is exactly what you get. It wasn’t that the Raiders couldn’t target Cooper nearly as much as it was they decided they didn't want to target Cooper. Targets are choices, and Cooper stopped being a prime choice in Oakland even before Gruden arrived.
So as part of the deep clean in Alameda, Gruden found in Jones someone who had turned on his own receivers and whose impatience is, if anything, greater than Gruden’s. Hence, Cooper the Cowboy.
And hence Gruden increasing his draft choice total to a more reasonable for rebuilding purposes to nine, including three firsts and a second.
And there will be more, because not even local outrage will serve as a deterrent to further fire sales -- not that it ever did, of course. Local outrage already has largely morphed into local apathy anyway, so the Cooper trade comes with another knowing nod about the value of taking praise in sports and thinking it constitutes anything but empty words meant to fill in the time between one impertinent question and the next.
So now that’s done, and the speculation about who is next on General Manager Jonny’s list of ex-Raiders can begin. All we know is this -- the asking price always starts with a first-round draft choice, and sometimes when you least expect it, he’ll get it.