The Raiders meandered around Jon Gruden’s first season of a 10-year deal, going 4-12. Gruden effectively fired the GM and traded off his best players Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper before watching them be the biggest difference-makers on teams that won their divisions. Having stripped the team to the bone in service of extra picks and cap space, what better way to make a ginormous splash than assembling an arsenal on offense with Kyler Murray, Antonio Brown, and Le'Veon Bell?
I’ll admit a lot of this idea is selfish because whether it succeeded or failed it would be spectacular. Regardless of which, it’d be phenomenal content. Brown and Bell are both talented and combustible. No one really knows what Kyler Murray will be in the NFL and a lot of it will depend on both individual development as well as context — coaches, teammates — but if you put him with talents like Bell and Brown it’s a good bet you’ll see fireworks right away.
The Raiders have three first round picks — 4, 24, and 27 — as well as the fourth pick in the second round. They have the ammo to move up for Murray, trade for Brown and pick someone else who should be an immediate starter if they draft right. Furthermore, they are in the top 20% of the NFL in cap space for next season — they have over $70 million to spend.
This is the type of high-risk, high-reward gamble that few in the NFL other than Jon Gruden would have the luxury of attempting. If it succeeds, he looks like a genius. If it fails, he is on a 10-year guaranteed contract and he would either be paid out in full or, more likely, have another chance at a rebuild.
This is obviously a pie-in-the-sky scenario, but what is indisputable is that the Raiders need to do something right now to get momentum before moving to Las Vegas. I get that there will be the novelty of the new franchise in town, that the casinos are gonna buy up the luxury suites for their whales regardless, and that a lot of the fans in the new stadium will be visitors pairing a road trip to see their team with a weekend in Sin City. Nevertheless, if Gruden and the Raiders have another season where they only win a quarter of their games how much buzz will there really be for the move?
If you’ve read this far, you’ve almost certainly paused to think about how electric this trio of stars would be. If Gruden somehow rolled the dice and got it done, how must-watch would all their games be?