After some legal back-and-forth bickering, the 2019 Oakland Raiders will once again play at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum until their move to Las Vegas in 2020, assuming that goes according to schedule.
New general manager Mike Mayock and second-year head coach Jon Gruden have been doing their best to improve a roster that only won four games last season, two wins less than the previous year.
With an eye towards improving their pass rush and passing targets, the Raiders have had an extremely busy offseason, so we take a look at some of their biggest moves as well as the odds and predictions of their 2019 season.
The 2018 season was head coach Jon Gruden’s first with the team since his four-year Raiders run from 1998-2001, but he couldn’t get the job done as Oakland ended up posting a miserable 4-12 record and ended up 4th in the AFC West under the leadership of the highly confident hundred million dollar man (over ten years).
The Raiders started the season with a 1-8 run, and by Week 13 they became the first AFC team in 2018 to be officially eliminated from the playoffs, making it the fifteenth postseason-free year in Oakland over the last sixteen.
Owner Mark Davis didn’t wait until the offseason to fire general manager Reggie McKenzie, who was let go in December, and soon after Mike Mayock was hired for the position, a former NFL player and broadcaster who had been working for the NFL Network as a draft analyst.
Running back Marshawn Lynch had already come out of retirement once to play the last two seasons with his hometown Oakland Raiders, but after being placed on the injured reserve last October with a groin injury, the veteran is known for his ‘Beast Mode’ officially retired for the last time.
That shouldn’t have been a problem since the Raiders had picked up another running beast in March, Isaiah Crowell, but after signing a one-year deal with Oakland, Crowell tore his Achilles during a team workout at the end of April and will have to sit out the entire 2019 season to recover.
So that now leaves the running back duties to the recently drafted Josh Jacobs, who was selected in the first round (24th overall) after posting 2,062 yards from scrimmage and 21 total touchdowns in three seasons at Alabama, averaging 6.9 yards per touch.
After inexplicably trading quarterback hunter Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears just before the start of last season, the Raiders only had a total of 13 sacks on defense, which was worst in the league, the second worst (30) being more than double their total.
Using their first pick of three first-round selections, the Raiders drafted defensive Clelin Ferrell from Clemson, who has 27 career sacks in college, with 11.5 of them coming last season.
Oakland also signed defensive end Benson Mayowa to get after opposing quarterbacks, who last season had 4.0 sacks and 11 quarterback hits for the Arizona Cardinals.
In 2018, the Raiders’ passing attacked was ranked 18th in the NFL after averaging 234.4 yards per game, but they were ranked 28th in scoring after averaging 18.1 points per game.
Oakland lost four receivers through free agency, including Jordy Nelson, Seth Roberts, Martavis Bryant, and Brandon LaFell, so the front office spent the offseason collecting pass catchers.
The top four receivers on the Raiders’ roster are brand new targets for quarterback Derek Carr, and they are Antonio Brown (PIT), Tyrell Williams (LAC), Ryan Grant (IND) and J.J. Nelson (ARZ).
Six out of the nine Raiders’ draft picks this offseason were on the defensive side of the ball, but they still selected a running back, a tight end and a wide receiver to add depth to the offense.
Add to that all the new receivers they just signed (see above) on top of free agent tight end Luke Wilson (formerly of the Detroit Lions), and it’s obvious that adding as much talent and depth as possible to both sides of the roster was the main strategy of Mayock.
Second-year coordinators Greg Olson on offense and Paul Guenther on defense will have to improve on their rookie seasons if they expect to survive in Oakland, with Olson’s squad ranked 23rd and Guenther’s squad ranked 26th last season.
Tight end Jared Cook, who signed a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints for $15 million, with $8 million of that guaranteed.
Left guard Kelechi Osemele, who was traded (along with a sixth-round pick) to the New York Jets in exchange for a fifth-round pick, and now the Jets will pick up the final two years of his five-year deal worth $58.5 million.
Offensive lineman Jon Feliciano, who agreed to a two-year deal with the Buffalo Bills worth $7.25 million, with $3.9 million of that guaranteed.
Wide receiver Antonio Brown, who signed a three-year deal worth $50.125 million, with $30.125 million of that guaranteed.
Offensive tackle Trent Brown, who agreed to a four-year, $66 million contract with $36.25 million of that guaranteed.
Linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who took a one-year deal worth $2 million, with $300,000 of that guaranteed.
Free safety Lamarcus Joyner, who signed a four-year, $42 million contract, with $21.3 million of that guaranteed.
Offense: Tight end, running back, guard
Defense: Edge rusher, cornerback
The Raiders ended up with 9 picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, and they were:
Over the last decade, the Oakland Raiders have been to the playoffs just once, and that was in 2016 under head coach Jack Del Rio when the Raiders lost to the Houston Texans in the Wild Card game by a score of 14-27.
The last time the Raiders were in the playoffs before that was in 2002 when they faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their recently fired coach Jon Gruden in Super Bowl XXXVII and lost by a score of 21-48.
The Raiders have won three Lombardi Trophies, the first two as the Oakland Raiders after winning Super Bowl XI in 1976 against the Minnesota Vikings (32-14) and Super Bowl XV in 1980 against the Philadelphia Eagles (27-10), and the third one as the Los Angeles Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII in 1983 against the Washington Redskins (38-9).
The oddsmakers are not counting on the 2019 Oakland Raiders to be all that impressive, giving 25 other teams better odds at winning the Super Bowl next season.
The Raiders are predicted to come in 3rd or 4th place in the AFC West (along with the Broncos), and there are ten other AFC teams with better odds of winning the AFC Championship.
Head coach Gruden is on year two of a ten-year, no trade $100 million contract, so he is not too afraid of losing his job any time soon and will most likely be happy if the team can show signs of improvement on both sides of the ball and put up a few more than four wins this season.
Will franchise quarterback Derek Carr find success with his brand new receivers’ room, or are all of those new targets too tough to wrangle this quickly?
Can the beefed-up defensive line start to get after opposing quarterbacks, or will the Raiders continue to fail at sacking?
Can rookie running back Josh Jacobs become a dominant offensive weapon, or will the loss of Marshawn Lynch be too big a hole to fill?
Hopefully, there is a method to Gruden’s apparent madness and though the Raiders’ rebuild is still very much in progress, they may surprise the AFC West with so much new talent.
Oakland Raiders Postseason
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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