Raiders

Why hypothetical Odell Beckham Jr.-Raiders trade is perfect 2021 move

Why hypothetical Odell Beckham Jr.-Raiders trade is perfect 2021 move

Editor's Note: This week, NBC Sports Bay Area will theorize hypothetical front-office acquisitions for each of our teams. Today, we examine a potential move the Raiders could make.

The 2020 Raiders are all but set after adding cornerback Prince Amukamara. The Silver and Black added a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball in free agency, and loaded up on offense in the draft, setting quarterback Derek Carr up for what could be a career year during the inaugural season in Las Vegas.

I expect the Raiders to be better in 2020, but there still will be room for improvement after Jon Gruden's third season back.

That leads me to a hypothetical trade idea for the 2021 offseason, one the Raiders might be hesitant to pull the trigger on but one that could complete the offensive overhaul. I've been on the record as saying the Raiders should never again trade for a wide receiver after the Antonio Brown fiasco. But ... I just can't help myself. If the Cleveland Browns' 2020 season goes up in flames and Odell Beckham Jr. wants out of the Dawg Pound, Gruden would be salivating at the opportunity to "let it fly" with the three-time Pro Bowl selection in silver and black.

[RAIDERS TALK: Listen to the latest episode]
 

The trade

Browns send: WR Odell Beckham Jr., 2021 second-round pick

Raiders send: 2021 first-round pick, 2021 third-round pick and G Gabe Jackson

This hypothetical trade assumes a few things. The first is that Carr proves he is the long-term answer at quarterback in 2020 and the Raiders no longer have worry about the most important position in sports. The second it assumes is that the Silver and Black will cut ties with Tyrell Williams and Lamarcus Joyner after 2020, taking all of Williams' salary off the books and being only dinged $2.5 million for cutting Joyner.

With at least that $20 million off the books, plus Jackson's $9.3 million going to Cleveland, the Raiders easily could take on Beckham's contract. This also takes into account that rookie guard John Simpson has proven he can take over for Jackson, and the Raiders send the high-priced guard to Cleveland where he can slot in and help complete the Browns' offensive line rebuild.

Yes, Beckham is outspoken and brash, but he's never been a problem in the way Antonio Brown was and continues to be. Beckham, by all accounts, was a valued member of the Giants' locker room and his work ethic and desire to play through injury quickly won over his Browns teammates.

Beckham, 27, is one of the elite wide receivers in the NFL and he comes at a relatively modest price for a star wide receiver at $15.75 million in 2021 and $15 million in 2022 and 2023.

If Carr is able to make another leap in Year 3 in Gruden's system, then adding a No. 1 receiver of Beckham's caliber would take the Raiders' offense from good to great.

An offensive skill group that includes Beckham, Henry Ruggs, Josh Jacobs, Darren Waller, Bryan Edwards and Hunter Renfrow would be one of the most loaded offensive attacks in the NFL.

When healthy, Beckham is a top-five receiver in the NFL. His ability to stretch the field vertically and occupy the defense's attention would undoubtedly give Ruggs, Waller, Renfrow and Edwards more room to operate. It also gives Carr a bonafide No. 1 receiver to go to at key points in the game, while relieving some pressure from Ruggs to be that guy immediately.

Admittedly, the first- and third-round picks were a steep price to pay, but getting a second-round pick back lessens the blow and it's a talent like Beckham is hard to come by.

Everyone is chasing the Kansas City Chiefs. Denver Broncos edge rusher Von Miller put it best when saying you can't stop the Chiefs' offense, you just have to get lucky on defense and then outscore them.

In order to do that, you need explosive offensive weapons who can change the course of the game in an instant. The Raiders added a few this offseason in Ruggs and Edwards. They have a top-tier tight end in Waller and a feature back in Jacobs. But they are missing a weapon of Beckham's caliber, one that could truly give them an arsenal to match the firepower the Chiefs bring to the table.

[RELATED: Edwards' highlight reel shows Raiders WR's sky-high ceiling]

In his five healthy seasons, Beckham is averaging 84 catches, 1,241 yards and nine touchdowns. Four of those came with an aging Eli Manning at quarterback and last year a sports hernia injury hampered Beckham as he put up mediocre numbers for an underperforming Browns team.

Carr hasn't had a receiver approach Beckham's averages since Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree both did so in 2016. Waller did catch 90 passes for 1,145 yards and three scores last season as the top receiving option, but you need that production on the outside as well to be a truly dynamic offense.

This underscores the lack of dynamic receiving options Carr has during his career, something that is essential to close the gap on the Chiefs.

You might shudder at trading for another high-priced receiver. That's an understandable reaction. But Beckham doesn't come with Brown's baggage. He'll come in, work his tail off and be the final piece of Gruden's offensive puzzle. But a few things have to fall into place first.

Ex-Bucs claim Barrett Robbins' absence just excuse for Raiders' loss

Ex-Bucs claim Barrett Robbins' absence just excuse for Raiders' loss

Editor’s note: Sports Uncovered, the newest podcast from NBC Sports, shines a fresh light on some of the most unforgettable moments in sports. The fifth episode tells the story of "The Mysterious Disappearance that Changed a Super Bowl," chronicling Barret Robbins' absence from Super Bowl XXXVII.

A number of factors went into the Raiders' demoralizing defeat at the hands of Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII. The story behind the mysterious disappearance of Pro Bowl center Barret Robbins is revealed in NBC Sports' latest Sports Uncovered podcast, which was released Thursday.

Robbins missing the biggest game of his life no doubt played a role in the 48-21 thrashing the Raiders suffered. As did coach Bill Callahan's puzzling decision to alter the game plan at the last minute. But some Raiders believe Gruden and the Bucs knew their plays and formations, making the rout all but a certainty, blaming Callahan for giving the game to his former boss.

To a few former Buccaneers, though, all of that is just a bunch of excuses.

"The fact that your center went to Tijuana and got lost, and all of a sudden, um, he's not the quarterback," said Booger McFarland, who was a defensive tackle for the Bucs. "He's not the star wideout. He's not the star defensive player. He's the center."

"I've seen [Bill] Romanowski at a couple different events," Shelton Quarles said. "I've seen Rich [Gannon] at a couple of different events. And we've had conversations, and they're like, 'Oh, well you guys got lucky because Barret Robbins was out. We had a backup center, and our game plan was to run the ball down your throat.' OK, well, then just run your game plan. If that's something you practiced all week then run that."

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

As for the charge that Gruden and the Bucs knew the Raiders' plays, Tampa Bay had seen the scheme before. Every day.

"It's the same offense that Jon Gruden ran when he was there," McFarland said. "So, we practiced against the same offense for a year. So, if you're not going to change any of the same audibles that Gruden uses in Tampa, then that's on you."

In the end, Robbins' absence didn't play a huge role in the Bucs' romp. Gruden and the Buccaneers were ready for anything and everything the Raiders were going to throw at them, and Callahan was outmatched from the opening kick-off.

The Raiders approached the matchup as if they had already won the Super Bowl. Owning the league's No. 1 offense and facing a Bucs team no one expected to be there, some members of the Silver and Black were ready for the parade.

"I was like, 's--t, I'm about to get my second ring,'" defensive tackle Sam Adams said. "We about to drag these jokers. They ain't doing nothing against us. Nothing. We about to whoop these jokers."

But once Callahan made the last-minute game plan switch, Tim Brown and the rest of the Raiders entered Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego knowing they weren't bringing home the Lombardi Trophy.

"We go into the Super Bowl knowing that we don't have a chance to win," Brown said.

[RELATED: How Davis told Trask of Robbins' Super Bowl disappearance]

The Raiders' defeat at the hands of Gruden and the Bucs can be laid at the feet of many people.

Barret Robbins was an easy scapegoat at the time. The center went out and partied too hard and missed the game, so it's his fault. Years later we know better. The Raiders knew better in the moment.

Even if he had suited up, the Bucs were prepared to slow down Callahan's offensive attack. Almost like they knew what was coming.

How Raiders' Al Davis told Amy Trask of Barret Robbins' Super Bowl absence

How Raiders' Al Davis told Amy Trask of Barret Robbins' Super Bowl absence

Editor’s note: Sports Uncovered, the newest podcast from NBC Sports, shines a fresh light on some of the most unforgettable moments in sports. The fifth episode tells the story of "The Mysterious Disappearance that Changed a Super Bowl," chronicling Barret Robbins' absence from Super Bowl XXXVII.

Amy Trask had a conversation with Barret Robbins on the morning of Super Bowl XXXVII. The brief exchange between the then-Raiders CEO and Pro Bowl center didn’t raise any red flags.

A phone call with owner Al Davis a short while later, however, indicated that something was very wrong.

“Quite early that morning, I had gone out on a run and saw Barret in the lobby,” Trask said. “I ran into him, went up to my room and not long thereafter, Al called me and said, ‘Barrett’s not playing.' I said, ‘I just saw him in the lobby. He can play. I just had a conversation with him. He can play.’ And Al shared with me that others had made the decision to send Barret home. I hung up the phone, looked at my husband and I said, ‘We just lost the game.’ ”

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

The Raiders ended up getting trounced by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that night at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium, and losing their top-notch center just before the game didn’t help. The distraction of Robbins' disappearance the night before, while on a bender that carried from Friday through Saturday evening, certainly didn’t help.

Neither did the fact that coach Bill Callahan changed the game plan at the last minute, or that Jon Gruden was on the other sideline and used his knowledge of the Raiders’ scheme and personnel against the team that traded him to Tampa Bay during the 2002 offseason.

All of those topics are discussed during Thursday’s episode of NBC’s “Sports Uncovered” documentary podcast, which delves deep into Robbins’ sudden disappearance and the root causes of it, exploring the role his mental health played in that period and over his entire life.

Robbins admitted that he wouldn’t have been able to play in the game. He was not mentally able to do so after a night of partying and a mental-health episode that put him in a bad state. The Raiders evaluated Robbins after he returned to the team hotel Saturday evening and decided he wasn’t able to play.

Team doctors concluded that he wasn’t in a proper mental state to play in the biggest game of his life.

“On [Sunday] morning, I woke up and stretched and walked with Willie Brown and saw the doctors and everything,” Robbins said in an archived interview with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Greg Papa. “And, if they would have told me I could have played, I don’t know if I could’ve at that point. To be honest with you, I was sick.”

The Raiders sent him away and checked him into the Betty Ford Clinic in Riverside. It was only there, for the first time in his life, that Robbins was accurately diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He wasn’t properly treated for the condition before then, which led to problems off the field with substances of abuse.

Robbins was transported to a hospital on Sunday and barely watched any of the game.

“I saw a couple of plays on TV,” Robbins said. “They were watching it when I got there, but I didn’t sit up and watch it. I was there while I was, you know, on suicide watch. … It was a bad situation, obviously, and to recover from that, I don’t know if I have.”

[RELATED: The real reason why Barret Robbins missed Super Bowl XXXVII]

The Raiders haven’t gotten over that loss, either. It ended a short but dominant run and ushered in an era of futility unlike any in Raiders history. The Raiders have made the postseason only once since losing the Super Bowl.

The loss was difficult for those heavily invested in it. Among others, Trask took it particularly hard.

“When we lost, I cried myself to sleep that night wearing the same clothes I wore to the game,” Trask said. “I put my head on my husband’s shoulders and cried myself to sleep. But I never, ever lost sight of the fact that Barret Robbins is a human being. As badly as I felt, and as miserable as I was, and as hurt as our fans were and our organization was, I can only imagine Barret’s pain.”