The Cleveland Browns were formally announced as the 2018 “Hard Knocks” feature subject this time last year. May 17 was the date it became official, though there’s no formal deadline to choose a team.
One could be coming soon, and the Raiders could well be the choice.
NBC Sports national writer Peter King made the Silver and Black his guess during his Monday morning column, and there’s simple logic behind it.
The Raiders are must-see-freaking-TV.
Owner Mark Davis doesn’t care about that. He made it clear at the NFL owners meeting the Raiders want no part of the annual NFL Films training camp documentary show, shown in weekly installments each August.
“I told (head coach Jon Gruden), if they make us do it I’ll fire you and then hire you right back,” Davis said then. “After all, they can’t make you do it with a new coach.”
That is one of a few ways the NFL can’t force teams to do the show. They’re also off the shortlist by making the postseason within the last two years and if they haven’t done the show in a decade.
That leaves the Raiders, 49ers, Washington, New York Giants and Detroit Lions as teams eligible for assignment against their will.
NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco cited sources in reporting there is no talk of the 49ers as feature subject. There are other intriguing candidates, including two teams with new quarterbacks and multiple first-round picks to follow.
The Giants have No. 6 overall pick signal-caller Daniel Jones on the roster, and two other first-round picks in defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and cornerback Deandre Baker.
Washington has quarterback Dwayne Haskins and edge-rusher Montez Sweat, the latter of whom dropped down the opening round due to a medical concern.
There would be plenty to discuss with either team. No squad on the list, however, has more intrigue than the Raiders.
There are so many reasons to pick the Raiders we might as well list them:
-- Head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock both came from television, and make for excellent sound bytes and on-screen personalities.
-- Antonio Brown is magnetic in any situation, especially his first year away from Pittsburgh following a controversial and dramatic Steelers exit.
-- The Raiders have three first-round picks, all with excellent stories. Clelin Ferrell grew up in a military family, Josh Jacobs was homeless for a time in childhood and Johnathan Abram has a new daughter. All three are excellent quotes, as well.
-- Vontaze Burfict is trying to resurrect his career after leaving Cincinnati, and has been cast as a villain, and is considered a dirty player in some circles.
-- This is the Raiders’ last year in the Bay Area before relocating to Las Vegas, possibly training for the last time in scenic Napa.
-- The team is still rebounding from Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper trades, with a young roster looking to find its way.
-- Derek Carr is looking to rebound from some non-winning seasons, after watching the Raiders flirt with quarterback prospects during the pre-draft process.
-- Did we mention Jon Gruden?
Davis knows all of that, and still doesn’t want the “Hard Knocks” gig. Next year might be better, where the team could kick off their time in Las Vegas.
“Not this year,” Davis said. “It’s not the right time.”