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.
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.