The Raiders' receiver corps remains unsettled, with bodies shuffling in and out as head coach Jon Gruden waits for someone to seize a golden opportunity.
The position was a legitimate team strength, maybe the best position group on the roster entering training camp.
This summer’s crew featured Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, as good of a top two as any. Hunter Renfrow, Ryan Grant and J.J. Nelson were battling for reserve spots with return man Dwayne Harris. Keelan Doss was a “Hard Knocks” star and Marcell Ateman was making tough catches.
That position group was going to have some tough cuts. It certainly has starting in September with Brown’s explosive exit and carrying on through Thursday.
In that span, three of the top six receivers have been cut. First Brown went nuclear, then Grant proved ineffective and Nelson was never available. Availability is key in Gruden's eyes, which is why Nelson was cut Thursday. His late scratch versus Indianapolis hurt his status and last week’s setback was another strike.
Gruden was ready to move on.
Trevor Davis and Zay Jones have been added in trades. Williams and Harris have battled injury and their status for a Week 7 affair in Green Bay remains uncertain.
Think about that. So much turnover, so much uncertainty in so little time.
Gruden said Tuesday that quarterback Derek Carr is throwing to receivers he has barely met. He isn’t wrong, and his frustration is warranted.
It also isn’t new. Gruden completely overhauled the position group after 2018, with only Harris on the 53-man roster to open both seasons.
Let’s look at the top 2018 receivers and what happened to them:
-- Amari Cooper: Traded to Dallas for a 2019 first-round draft pick
-- Jordy Nelson: Cut with a non-guaranteed year left on his deal (though he was given an bonus earmarked for 2019 at the end of 2018)
-- Seth Roberts: Cut
-- Dwayne Harris: Still with team
-- Brandon LaFell: Suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon late in 2018, remains out of football
-- Marcell Ateman: Was signed to the practice squad to start 2019 season, promoted vs. Chicago, waived Wednesday and re-signed on Thursday
-- Martavis Byrant: Was not re-signed, suspended indefinitely
Now let’s examined top portions of the position group as assembled to start camp:
-- Antonio Brown: Released just before start of regular season
-- Tyrell Williams: No. 1 receiver, battling foot injury
-- Ryan Grant: Cut
-- J.J. Nelson: Cut
-- Dwyane Harris: Still with team, battling ankle injury
-- Hunter Renfrow: Primary slot receiver
-- Keelan Doss: Waived, then re-signed
-- Marcell Ateman: Waived, signed to practice squad, promoted to 53-man roster, waived, re-signed to 53-man roster
Now let’s look at the Raiders receiver corps as currently constructed:
-- Tyrell Williams
-- Trevor Davis: (acquired from Green Bay for 2020 sixth-round pick)
-- Zay Jones: (acquired from Buffalo for 2021 fifth-round pick)
-- Hunter Renfrow
-- Dwayne Harris
-- Keelan Doss
-- Marcell Ateman
I’m not much for predictions, but this is a lock: Next year’s group will look a lot different than what you see just above.
Davis and Jones are on extended tryouts. Not saying he will, but even Williams can be cut in 2019 without dead money attached (if he's healthy next offseason). The 2020 NFL Draft class is absolutely stacked. S-T-A-C-K-E-D. Stacked. Some young guys are coming in, for sure.
The money not spent on Brown could well be earmarked for another veteran pass catcher to help lead the group, too.
Gruden knows this group has gone from strength to weakness, and will continue attempts to fortify it from one season to the next with guys that can make plays and stay healthy (and not cause trouble). Over the last two years, they have been hard to find.