New faces: WR Antonio Brown, OT Trent Brown, WR Tyrell Williams, S LaMarcus Joyner, DE Clelin Ferrell, RB Josh Jacobs, S Jonathan Abram, LB Vontaze Burfict, G Richie Incognito, LB Brandon Marshall, CB Nevin Lawson, CB Trayvon Mullen, QB Mike Glennon
They’re gone: TE Jared Cook, G Kelechi Osemele, WR Jordy Nelson, OT Donald Penn, RB Marshawn Lynch, WR Seth Roberts, S Reggie Nelson, S Marcus Gilchrist, CB Rashaan Melvin
2019 snapshot: Never lacking for headlines, the Raiders had another eventful offseason that, in turn, landed them on HBO’s Hard Knocks for the first time. Jon Gruden and new GM Mike Mayock embarked on an aggressive search for talent while simultaneously touting culture and then disregarding it.
The Raiders justified taking Ferrell fourth overall — a reach on almost any draft board — by lauding his impeccable character, even after the team added talented-but-disruptive veterans in Antonio Brown and Burfict (and later Incognito). Between his blistered feet and well-chronicled search for a suitable helmet, Brown has already been a repetitive distraction.
Oakland’s other first-round picks (Jacobs and Abram) were better values than Ferrell, but both play positions of relatively low value, and it’s hard to imagine either bringing sufficient return for the trading away of Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack.
The Raiders’ spending spree in free agency drew some criticism, as Trent Brown (four years, $66 million), Joyner (four years, $42 million) and Williams (four years, $43 million) were all handsomely overpaid, especially considering Brown will play right tackle. However, the Raiders smartly structured deals to be escaped after one or two years with minimal cap consequences, justifying the talent upgrade in the short term.
Get to know … TE Darren Waller
A converted wideout who battled substance abuse earlier in his career, Waller has been the talk of camp and is ticketed for a starting role. He won’t match Cook’s production from 2018, but he should be a featured piece of the offense.
Worth the investment?
–Even if things don’t click with all the new arrivals, the Raiders have enough talent to reach their over/under of six wins. Betting on more is reasonable but not without risk.
–It wasn’t that long ago (mid-2016) that Derek Carr was getting peripheral MVP buzz. That was clearly premature, but his +8000 odds to win it in 2019 might be worth a shot.
Bottom line: The Raiders added chunks of talent, but some of it appears combustible, and plenty of holes still remain.