Khalil Mack

Ex-Raider Amari Cooper follows Khalil Mack's lead, scores TD in Cowboys debut

Ex-Raider Amari Cooper follows Khalil Mack's lead, scores TD in Cowboys debut

Stop me if you've heard this before: a former Raiders Pro Bowler traded for a first round pick scored a touchdown in prime time in his first game with his new team. 

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper followed in Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack's footsteps, and scored a TD in his Dallas debut. Cooper caught a four-yard pass from Dak Prescott after a Tennessee Titans turnover to give the Cowboys an early ead.

It took just two catches, and 6:12, for Cooper to score as many touchdowns as he did with the Raiders this season. In their first game without Cooper, the Raiders scored three points in a blowout loss to the 49ers on Thursday. 

This is a sensation becoming all to familiar to Raiders fans. In Week 1, Mack scored as many touchdowns (one) as he did in four years with the Raiders. Mack was watching, too.

[RELATED: NFL world roasts Jon Gruden and Raiders on Khalil Mack's monster night]

The Raiders' three first-round picks next spring, which includes the two acquired for Mack and Cooper. Those picks slipped last week, and both could slip again if the Cowboys beat the Titans, after the Bears already won on Sunday.

It's going to be a long wait until April. 

NFL rumors: Jets made big Khalil Mack trade offer; Raiders wanted him in NFC

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AP

NFL rumors: Jets made big Khalil Mack trade offer; Raiders wanted him in NFC

The New York Jets hoped Khalil Mack would be wearing green and white when they faced the Bears this Sunday in Chicago.

Instead, Mack is a member of the Bears and likely will terrorize Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.

According to the New York Daily News, before the Raiders and Bears completed their trade last month, the Jets offered their 2019 first-round pick and 2020 second-round selection, and they were willing to increase their offer.

But the Raiders never gave Jets management the chance.

According to the report, the Jets believed the Raiders simply wanted to get Mack out of the AFC and that they were willing to pass up a better offer in order to send him to the NFC.

The Raiders eventually received a 2019 first-round, 2020 first-round, 2020 third-round and 2019 sixth-round picks for Mack. To the befuddlement of most, the Raiders had to kick back a 2020 second-round pick and a conditional 2020 fifth-round choice in the deal, too.

On Thursday afternoon, The Athletic's Jay Glazer posted an interview with Mack's agent, Joel Segal. Glazer asked Segal how the Mack trade went down, and here's what Segal said:

We went back and forth, we were trying to get a deal done. Ultimately, communication broke down, it wasn’t what we would have liked it to be at times. Later they made a decision to trade the player. I had been having lunch with Mack in New York and we were going over different scenarios. Later that night I got a call from [Bears GM] Ryan Pace and their negotiator Joey Laine and they said, “You ready to work?

I said, “You guys have permission?”

“Yup. We got an agreement to trade for Mack, you ready to work?”

After trading Mack, the Raiders acquired yet another 2019 first-round pick when they sent wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Cowboys on Monday. Here's what Segal, who also represents Cooper, said about that trade:

Reggie McKenzie called me. I’ve had a long relationship with Reggie. Reggie called when the Raiders traded Amari and basically gave us the courtesy of letting us know. We talked to Amari and got it done.

Interesting details.

NFL rumors: Raiders players question Jon Gruden's accountability after trades

NFL rumors: Raiders players question Jon Gruden's accountability after trades

The Raiders' second trade of a former first-round draft pick this season was a big blow to the locker room. And after the team dealt wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Cowboys on Monday, players reportedly are questioning coach Jon Gruden more and more.

“When what you say and what you do are two different things, there is a problem,” an anonymous Raiders player told The Athletic on Tuesday. “We all have to believe in each other and pull in one direction.”

Cooper's trade to the Cowboys was another example to the players that what Gruden says and what he does might be two different things. Just over one week after denying reports he would trade Cooper, the wide receiver was sent to Dallas. And throughout the offseason, Gruden said he envisioned Cooper as the 'focal point' of the Raiders' offense

When Cooper was traded Monday, he was taken off the Raiders' practice field, but Gruden didn't address the players, leaving them confused by the scene. Instead, the coach went to his past workplace and informed ESPN of the trade. 

The Raiders are 1-5. They traded Khalil Mack to the Bears right before the season and now Cooper to the Cowboys. And yet, Gruden has continued to say the team isn't tanking

“You have to wonder if we haven’t been playing for draft picks all along,” another anonymous player told The Athletic. “Despite everything the coaches told us at training camp.”

The Mack trade obviously hurt. But it seems the players are taking the Cooper deal even harder.

“The Mack trade was a real stiff jab,” another said to The Athletic. “But the Cooper one was like a knockout punch, especially because we had just walked back in the door from the bye. We didn’t want to believe it was coming, and Coach said we weren’t going to trade him.”

One player willing to speak on the record was veteran tight end Lee Smith, who didn't hold back. 

“Nobody was happy when we traded Khalil. And nobody is happy that we traded Amari," Smith said. "How could you be? You never ever want to trade elite, homegrown talent. But Coach Gruden is thinking long term.

"It’s no secret that he got a 10-year contract. And having five first-rounders in the next two years is pretty good."

As rumors of even more Raiders on the trading block swirl, can Gruden regain control of the locker room? It doesn't sound like it will be an easy task.