Raiders' Jon Gruden, Reggie McKenzie send mixed messages about future trades

Raiders' Jon Gruden, Reggie McKenzie send mixed messages about future trades

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders have traded two former first-round draft picks in less than eight weeks.

Edge rusher Khalil Mack was shipped to Chicago on Sept. 1 for a package that included two first-round picks. Then wide receiver Amari Cooper was traded to Dallas on Monday for a 2019 first-round pick from the Cowboys.

Two players who were expected to be Raiders for a long, long time now are employed by other teams.

General manager Reggie McKenzie had plans to pay them both, to maintain a foundation that included guard Gabe Jackson and quarterback Derek Carr. Now both Mack and Cooper are gone.

Who’s next? Depends who you ask.

McKenzie was asked Monday if anyone on the Raiders' roster was untouchable. He said no.

“I’m not going to say anyone’s untouchable,” McKenzie told reporters. “Now, in my heart of hearts, would I hate to lose some players more than others? Absolutely. I know the difficulty in replacing [certain guys], at certain positions I feel stronger about than others.

“As far as communication with me and any team, those lines will be open for anyone, on any one of our players. Whether I’m going to like it or not, it’s hard to say that anybody’s untradeable.”

Then coach Jon Gruden spoke to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and said no one’s available, that the Raiders are out of the trade market.

“We’re not trading anyone else,” Gruden said. “We’re trying to stay competitive and figure out a way to compete this next game (Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts).”

Go on. Scratch your head over the disconnect. Ponder how the sky can be called green and then blue by power brokers from the same front office.

Then, shake it out and understand it remains uncertain what the Raiders will do before the Oct. 30 trade deadline.

Reports have 2016 first-round pick Karl Joseph also on the block. Any veterans on short-term deals with no prospects to be part of the long-term Raiders rebuild could be moved for the right price.

It’s unlikely Carr or cornerback Gareon Conley will be moved during the season, but never say never with this bunch.

The Raiders have taken three first-round picks from the Mack and Cooper trades, and have five over the next two seasons, including their own. It’s possible that collecting more selections this month or this next offseason could happen, despite what Gruden told ESPN. They do have a bounty of options to acquire young talent and remake this roster as Gruden sees fit.

“This is where you get a great opportunity to build,” McKenzie said. “You have pieces you can use to really build on what we have. With Gruden and the coaches that I’ve got here now, knowing where we’re heading schematically on both sides of the ball and special teams, we’re going to build this thing. We have the ammunition to build this thing really well here.”

NFL rumors: Ex-Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie joins Dolphins

NFL rumors: Ex-Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie joins Dolphins

Former Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie didn’t take long to find a new gig.

The Silver and Black fired him the evening of Dec. 9, following a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. McKenzie didn’t mesh well enough with new coach/football chief Jon Gruden to stick around and chose to bow out before the season’s end despite an offer to finish the year.

McKenzie has a new team and a new title roughly two months later. He was hired as Miami Dolphins senior personnel executive, according to several reports out of South Florida on Saturday afternoon.

McKenzie will work with Dolphins general manager Chris Grier, trying to rebuild a downtrodden Dolphins franchise that recently named Brian Flores its new coach.

McKenzie didn’t need a new job right away. His Raiders contract was fully guaranteed, meaning he would be paid through its expiration after the 2021 draft.

McKenzie hasn’t had an employment lapse in decades after six-plus years as Raiders GM and more than two decades working in the Green Bay Packers’ front office.

The 2016 NFL Executive of the Year helped get the Raiders right with the salary cap and snap a prolonged playoff drought in 2016. That was due in larger part to his signature 2014 draft class, where he added edge rusher Khalil Mack, quarterback Derek Carr and guard Gabe Jackson with his first three picks.

[RELATED: How Mike Mayock will approach draft]

While McKenzie made some higher-round mistakes in the draft, he found quality in the first round most years but struggle to flesh out the roster appropriately.

Now he’ll try to do better with the Dolphins, who need some serious talent upgrades to compete in the AFC.

Raiders discussions with Oakland Coliseum progressing, could resolve soon


Raiders discussions with Oakland Coliseum progressing, could resolve soon

The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority board met on Friday morning, and executive director Scott McKibben provided a closed-session update on talks to host the Raiders during the 2019 NFL season.

No Raiders officials were present, but it was still a small and productive step towards keeping the Silver and Black in Oakland for one more year. The board liked the direction of talks between McKibben and Raiders brass.

“I updated the board on where I’ve been with the Raiders management and ownership,” McKibben said on Friday afternoon. “It’s fair to say that the talks are progressing.”

Talks will continue soon, with a resolution expected in the relatively near future.

“We’ll talk against next week,” McKibben said. “Again, this will come to a conclusion one way or another in the next week or so. It’s fair to say that discussions have been meaningful and productive and, after the update with our board, things are progressing.”

Continued progress will have the Raiders remaining at the Oakland Coliseum for another season, the last before formally moving to Las Vegas in 2020. The Raiders have remained in the East Bay since being approved for relocation prior to the 2017 season.

They preferred to remain in Oakland until the Vegas move – they had a 2017 lease at Oakland Coliseum, with a team option for ’18 – but halted negotiations for 2019 after the city of Oakland sued the Raiders and the NFL for antitrust violations and breach of contract.

The Raiders and the Coliseum Authority were working on a $7.5 million deal for 2019, but the team walked away after the lawsuit was filed.

[RELATED: Raiders have lots of flexibility ahead of pivotal offseason]

The Silver and Black explored several options, including some outside the market, but their preference was to continue playing in the Bay Area. The 49ers halted work on a deal to play at Oracle Park by refusing to waive their territorial rights, leaving Levi’s Stadium – owner Mark Davis doesn’t like the venue – and a return to Oakland Coliseum as the only viable local options.

Talks with McKibben ramped up a bit last week, and the foundation of previous extension talks has made a return to the table easier.

There’s plenty of work left to be done on a 2019 deal, but a resolution is closer following productive and meaningful talks to this stage.