ALAMEDA – The Raiders made players available just before Tuesday afternoon’s trading deadline. Derek Carr and Greg Olson spoke at the podium before most reporters entered for an open locker room period. The place was a ghost town.
Few players wanted to speak just before a period were the Raiders could’ve been active in the trade market. The locker room can be a tense space when uncertainty reigns. It has been that way at times since Amari Cooper was traded to Dallas last week for a first-round pick.
It sparked talk of fire sales and rebuilding the roster from scratch for a future many veterans wouldn’t be around to enjoy. Most older players are working on short-term contracts, making it possible they could be shipped off for parts.
The possibility of more moves certainly weighed on the Raiders.
“I think just as a football player for everybody that’s tough,” Carr said roughly 90 minutes before the deadline. “I don’t like speaking for everybody, but I think it’s easy to say yes. You want to make sure that you’re around. What’s the plan? All those things. I think it was on a lot of guys' minds. Just knowing that that’s almost over with and all those things and we’re just playing ball, I think it’s nice for our guys.”
Nobody got traded close to the deadline. There were more than a few veterans who would’ve welcomed a trade away from a 1-6 team trying to win each week but ultimately focused on the long term. There’s some disinterest in head coach Jon Gruden’s vision, especially with some rotating roles and the loss of key players -- Khalil Mack, Cooper and Marshawn Lynch come to mind – making it tough to compete.
Karl Joseph and Gareon Conley were also mentioned in trade reports, but these former first-round picks ended up staying here.
These athletes are human, with houses bought and kids enrolled in school. The prospect of moving quickly can be difficult.
“Honestly that’s every year,” Carr said. “Obviously some things have happened this year that have sparked even more consciousness about it, makes us even more conscious about it. I will say that yes, we know who we have going forward. It’s on us to go out there and just execute the play well and try to stick around.
"You want to keep proving yourself every year. James Jones told me, he said, ‘You have to prove yourself every snap, every year.’ That’s the NFL. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, you have to prove yourself. That’s what we’re excited about.
"We have a group of guys that care about one another. Honestly nobody cares about who gets the ball or things like that. It’s easy. You just go out and just play. It makes it nice.”
Players and coaches work too hard each week to be content losing such a violent game with only 16 go-rounds per season. Ending the uncertainty of players possibly being shipped will certainly galvanize the remaining members, though future cuts are always possible and a trade deadline passed won’t cure all ills.
It will end a specific cause of stress and uncertainty for a profession where routes and specific roles are preferred. A win or two would certainly reward this remaining group, and offer confidence after losing so many late leads. The opposite could happen if losing continues, and players could check out in greater numbers as the season has become lost. That’s why this stretch is so important to a team entering the season’s midway point.