Raiders

Why Gareon Conley trade makes sense for Raiders, might not be last one

Why Gareon Conley trade makes sense for Raiders, might not be last one

ALAMEDA -- Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley had a game he’d rather forget on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. It was his last in silver and black.

He was traded to the Houston Texans for a 2020 third-round NFL draft pick, a source said Monday, ending a relationship that didn’t seem long-lasting.

Conley’s an excellent cover man with speed, ball skills and all the physical traits one finds in a top cornerback. There were some inside the Raiders complex who thought he was at times disinterested and disengaged, wondering whether he was a perfect match for what they do defensively and the level of physicality required of Raiders cornerbacks.

Actions suggested a possible breakup before Conley's contract expired. The Raiders added two cornerbacks in the first four rounds of this year’s NFL draft despite having entrenched starters in Conley and Daryl Worley, a player the staff likes a great deal.

Conley has struggled this year. According to analytics site Pro Football Focus, Conley has allowed 18 catches on 26 targets for 266 yards and four touchdowns. That included a 74-yard score on Sunday against the Packers, where he also provided some lackluster run defense.

The Raiders decided to move on now, taking the best deal on the table from Houston despite playing the Texans next week.

The added selection gives the Raiders three in the third round next year. They also have two in the first and none in the second. The Silver and Black have the capital to go get just about anyone they want or can use the picks to move around the draft board and back into the second round if they choose.

They’ll stomach some awkwardness for the added draft capital, which could be used to add a player before the Oct. 29 NFL trade deadline.

“It’s tough. It’s difficult,” Gruden said in his Monday press conference. “But it does give us three third-round picks next year. Five picks really in the [top 96], and that’s an area that we wanted. We wanted to continue to add to our football team. We’re excited about the possibilities next year in the draft. It is hard, it’s hard trading anybody. We have some young guys that we want to have an opportunity and that’s the decision we made.”

The Raiders have options to help the team now and/or in the future by trading someone not firmly in their long-term plans. That’s what makes this a good move by Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock.

Conley’s not a perfect fit? Ship him for a pick that can help acquire someone who is. The roster turnover under Gruden has been significant, but he has the 10-year contract and owner Mark Davis’ unconditional support, so why not build a roster as he sees fit? It’s his decade. He can do what he wants with it.

We’ll know in time if it was a good move or not, once we see the tangible return from this selection.

We know for sure the Raiders are still in the midst of a rebuild, even if they’re far more competitive than last year. They’re in the playoff picture as we near the halfway point of the season, with a tough Texans team ahead and a schedule that gets far easier after that.

The Raiders need some help at several spots, including pass rusher, linebacker and maybe even receiver despite two trades already to fortify the position. The trade market could be an avenue for assistance, and this Conley deal could be the latest -- but not the last -- domino to fall in a busy year for Raiders trades.

[RELATED: Raiders turning to rookie to fill Conley's spot at corner]

There could be another deal (or two) before this trading period is done. Time will tell on that front, but Gruden and Mayock will keep a close eye on possible deals and will certainly discuss them with teams as we head toward Oct. 29.

“We’re going to try. We’re going to do what we feel like we can to improve,” Gruden said. “Obviously, there’s a lot that goes into making trades. We’re excited about having three third-round picks, two first-round picks in next year’s draft.”

Raiders sign veteran linebacker Preston Brown, add another new face

Raiders sign veteran linebacker Preston Brown, add another new face

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders added another veteran defender on Monday, signing Preston Brown to supplement the linebacker corps. Brown worked out for the Silver and Black and officially joined the team in the wake of Sunday’s 17-10 win over a Cincinnati Bengals team that cut him recently.

Brown’s an old-school middle linebacker, someone who can make sure tackles and fit in well on obvious rushing downs. The Raiders primarily use two linebacker sets even in base packages, bringing in relative newcomer Will Compton against heavier sets.

Brown believes he’ll be able to integrate well and play quickly, considering the similarities between Paul Guenther’s scheme and what is run in Cincinnati.

“I have a lot of the terminology down already, so it’s just a matter of getting back,” Brown said. “I’m excited about it.”

He has watched Raiders film already and likes what he has seen from this group. Brown helped run the Bengals defense until recently. He was released on Tuesday, spent a couple days as a free agent and now is with a new team.

He goes from a winless crew to one in the playoffs, an intriguing aspect of this new gig.

[RELATED: Crosby-Mullen bond leads to winning plays vs. Bengals]

“It’s really cool, especially coming from an 0-9, now 0-10 team,” Brown said. “There’s a lot more life, a lot more energy over here. That’s fun to be around.”

The Raiders are Brown’s third team in six seasons. He spent his first four NFL years as a full-time starter in Buffalo before moving on to Cincinnati in 2018. He wasn’t as integral to that team. His best season came in 2017, when he had 101 tackles and three passes defensed.

Raiders-Chiefs Week 13 AFC West matchup flexed to afternoon slot

Raiders-Chiefs Week 13 AFC West matchup flexed to afternoon slot

Remember back in Week 3 when the Raiders were licking their wounds after being dismantled by the Vikings to open their five-game road trip?

Jon Gruden's club was 1-2, two games back of the Chiefs in the AFC West with four consecutive road games staring them in the face. The AFC West crown was the Chiefs and no one would be told otherwise.

How the tables have turned.

The Raiders survived their road odyssey and returned home to win three straight games to head into a Week 12 matchup with the Jets at 6-4. The Chiefs, meanwhile, hit some road bumps. They dropped games to the Colts and Texans before quarterback Patrick Mahomes dislocated his knee cap.

Backup quarterback Matt Moore went 1-1 in relief. Mahomes returned in Week 10, but KC's defense was gashed on the ground by the Titans and they fell to ... 6-4.

Gruden and old friend Andy Reid still have one more showdown on the calendar, with the Raiders' Week 13 visit to Arrowhead Stadium possibly serving as the AFC West title game. 

As such, the NFL has opted to flex the Dec. 1 game from the 10 a.m. PT window to the 1:25 p.m. PT slot. The move shifts the Browns-Steelers matchup into the 10 a.m. PT slot. The 49ers-Ravens game will remain in the 10 a.m. PT slot with the NFL opting to keep Patriots-Texans as the Sunday night game.

[RELATED: Raiders rookie class having profound impact on season]

The Chiefs still have to play the Chargers on Monday night in Mexico City. A loss will drop them a half-game behind the Raiders heading into their bye week. A win will ensure the AFC West rivals will be in a virtual tie at 7-4 -- with KC holding the head-to-head tiebreaker -- should the Raiders beat the Jets at MetLife Stadium in Week 12.

Gruden's Raiders have fought tooth and nail to survive injuries, a brutal schedule and the loss of Antonio Brown to give themselves a shot at the playoffs and even the division title. The Chiefs beat the Raiders at the Coliseum in Week 2, with Mahomes accounting for four second-quarter touchdowns in a 28-10 win.

This is a different Raiders team. One with an offensive identity and rookies growing more comfortable with each victory put under their belt.

The Chiefs' run defense is primed to be gashed by Josh Jacobs and the Raiders' offensive line. Oakland's banged-up secondary could be an issue against Mahomes. It's going to be quite the showdown at Arrowhead.

Knock on wood, if you're with us.