This past Saturday, the Oakland Raiders launched a blockbuster trade with the Chicago Bears in which they sent All-Pro DE/OLB Khalil Mack, a 2020 second round pick, and a 2020 conditional fifth-round pick to the windy city in exchange for a 2019 first round pick, a 2020 first round pick, a 2020 third round pick and a 2019 sixth round pick. However, after this trade, the obvious question is: What’s next for the Raiders?
The Raiders find themselves in a tough spot after this trade. The best player on the defense is now presumably 30-year-old Bruce Irvin. Not only that, but the Raiders have their woes on the offensive side of the ball too having just traded away wide receiver Ryan Switzer who they acquired from the Dallas Cowboys to the Pittsburgh Steelers as well as cutting troubled wide receiver and former Steeler Martavis Bryant.
The Raiders are likely not going to play well this season unless newly acquired receiver Jordy Nelson can bring some magic to that offense and even then, he’s over the age of 30. Derek Carr is coming off of a season where he struggled as is former first-round pick Amari Cooper.
As a result of the Mack trade, Oakland needs to hit on each and every draft pick they acquired. They find themselves with two first rounders for the next two years and they need to hit on all those picks in order to build a core for this team.
Currently, the Raiders don’t really have a core. They have the oldest roster in the NFL in average age and that’s not what a team needs in a rebuild. There’s young players with promise like Arden Key, Gareon Conley, and Karl Joseph but none of them are players to build a team around like Mack was.
Mark Davis and Jon Gruden find themselves with a tough situation on their hands because they’re going to be closely watched over these next two offseasons. If the drafts don’t produce the types of talent ownership is looking for, the two may be fired by the end of 2020. However, the outlook doesn’t have to be so bleak.
The Gruden era in Oakland hasn’t gotten off on the right foot, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Maybe the front office buckles down and uses their draft capital to build a quality team over the next two years. As Gruden said: “We’re going to be second guessed until the cows come home on this.” Maybe when the “cows come home,” the picks will turn out and the Raiders will be on the track to recapture that 12-4 playoff magic they had in 2016.