Mike Mayock

Jon Gruden enjoying Josh Jacobs' success after Khalil Mack trade criticism

Jon Gruden enjoying Josh Jacobs' success after Khalil Mack trade criticism

ALAMEDA -- Jon Gruden and the Raiders were hammered for trading star pass rusher Khalil Mack last season. 

After all, who in their right mind ships out a perrenial All-Pro pass rusher in the prime of his career? 

Gruden gambled, wanting to recoup picks to rebuild the Raiders. Fourteen months later, the Raiders coach might be the one getting the last laugh thanks to running back Josh Jacobs. 

The Raiders secured two-first round picks from the Bears for Mack. The first they used to select  Jacobs. The other will come in 2020. The Bears went 12-4 last season thanks to Mack, a last-place schedule and a knee injury to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers that contributed to Green Bay's disappointing season. 

Chicago has fallen back to Earth in 2019, setting the Raiders up for a potential top-10 pick should the Bears continue to flounder down the stretch. 

Meanwhile, Jacobs has been a revelation for the Silver and Black. The Alabama product has rushed for 923 yards and seven touchdowns through the first 10 games, rewarding Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock's belief that he was their feature back of the future. 

After Mayock claimed he told Gruden that Jacobs was their man after the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Levi's Stadium, Gruden was quick to point out they only were able to draft Jacobs because they had the pick in the first place. 

"He's doing all the interviews taking credit for Jacobs," Gruden said Wednesday with a smile. "He can have all the credit, but Jacobs wouldn't be here if we didn't have the picks. So, I don't care who drafted him. We all were united in picking Jacobs, but he deserves all the credit certainly. We like to rib each other on a lot of things. But it doesn't matter. [Jacobs} is here, he's ours, he's a great prospect and he's off to a great start. I'm really happy for him, he's a great kid that has given us every ounce of energy he has."  

Much was made about Gruden and Mayock's relationship in the lead up to the draft. But the general manager and head coach were united in their selections, leading to one of the most impactful draft classes in recent memory. 

It starts with Jacobs, defensive ends Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby, as well as cornerback Trayvon Mullen, but it could have been even better. 

"If [safety Johnathan Abram] had been healthy we kind of saw him as an impact player," Gruden said. "It was a great collaboration [with Mayock]. We all look at the film. Coaches, scouts and we try to get a consensus on who we want to pick. But we needed a feature back. We didn't have one. We got one in the first round and we're going to try to add some pieces next year with all the picks we've assembled. That's one way to get better. You have to give Mike credit. He's done a nice job."

[RELATED: Why Raiders believe improved pass rush here to stay

Trading away Mack was a bold move. Gruden was given the keys to make the tough decisions needed to build the Raiders back into a perennial contender. 

Jacobs is a big part of Gruden's vision for what his Raiders will become. 

Ten games into the back's NFL career, Jacobs has shown that Gruden's gambit was worth the risk. 

Antonio Brown apologizes to Patriots, not Raiders, for bad media, drama

Antonio Brown apologizes to Patriots, not Raiders, for bad media, drama

Hey Antonio Brown ... did you forget someone?

The seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver took to Twitter on Tuesday (again) and apologized to the New England Patriots and team owner Robert Kraft:

It appears he left someone out of the tweet, though. Where's Brown's apology to the Raiders?

The laundry list of items AB brought to the Silver and Black range from a case of extreme frostbitten feet to #HelmetGate to an altercation with Raiders general manager Mike Mayock.

[RELATED: Brown's agent confident in AB return]

Just to name a few ... 

Brown was traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Raiders in March for two 2019 NFL Draft picks, and despite the excitement at the beginning, he never played a game for Oakland after requesting his release and having his wish granted right before the season opener. 

Apparently he only remembers the headaches he caused in New England, not in Oakland.

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NFL trade deadline: Why Raiders were wise to show prudence, discipline

NFL trade deadline: Why Raiders were wise to show prudence, discipline

The NFL trade deadline has come and gone. The Raiders' roster looks the same.

That’s not a bad thing.

It also doesn’t mean the Raiders were ignoring phone calls. They were making and taking them heading toward Tuesday’s 1 p.m. PT deadline. They didn’t make a move for the sake of making one, proof that: A. They value draft capital that will be the lifeblood of a multiyear roster rebuild that isn’t anywhere close to done, and B. Discipline reigned over making a quick fix.

Look. They needed help at pass rusher and linebacker. They were still considering receiver options.

Not buying with a deadline deal also doesn’t mean they’re cashing in this season’s chips at 3-4 with an easier schedule on the horizon. There’s a competitive team already intact, albeit with some thin and weaker spots on defense that could be a liability down the stretch.

Discipline in the trade market is hard, especially with a head coach in Jon Gruden dying to win right now ultimately in charge of personnel. They didn’t want to weigh next year’s cap space down with a heavy, veteran contract or hurt next year’s draft class by removing a top pick from the cache.

Let’s not forget that the Raiders ultimately made three in-season trades and dealt for Antonio Brown just before the league year began. They weren’t afraid to make deals. That must also be weighed into the team’s inaction at the deadline itself.

The Brown experiment was a disaster. There’s little arguing that.

The in-season trades added depth to the receiver corps without sacrificing a top pick. Gruden and Mike Mayock got Trevor Davis for a 2020 sixth-round pick and Zay Jones for a 2021 fifth-rounder. Davis is 26 years old and Jones just 24, with Jones having a year left on his rookie deal.

They got a third-round draft pick for Gareon Conley, a player who wasn’t in their long-term plans with cornerbacks Travyon Mullen and Isaiah Johnson taken in the first four rounds of last year’s NFL draft.

They have two first-round picks and three third-round selections in next year’s draft, allowing them to move most anywhere to take players they want. They can be aggressive moving up the draft board if they choose, considering the generally quality gets throughout the 2019 draft.

While Oakland fans in particular may have wanted the Raiders to go big in the last year here in the East Bay, the organization’s power players are thinking about building a foundation for sustained success. They understand not every draft pick will be perfect, but having more bites at the apple will help acquire quality young players.

[RELATED: Three winners, three losers from the NFL trade deadline]

Standing pat might not be the fun, buzz generator that a late acquisition might’ve been, but remaining active but discipline was the prudent course of action here. Sticking to player and draft pick valuations is key to getting this rebuild right.

The Raiders have plenty of cap space heading into 2020 and an arsenal of draft opportunities. Now they just have to spend and select right.