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.”