The Oakland Raiders will once again hear their name connected to every big name on the trade block this offense. Oakland’s history includes many instances where they traded for players who other teams under valued.
These rumors will get even louder this season as the Raiders hold five picks in the top-100 picks in the 2019 NFL Draft which is great trade capital. The team already proved they weren’t afraid to deal by trading key players on draft day and moving back in the first round. Don’t forget they traded away players like Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper during the season last year as well. Oakland isn’t afraid to make a deal under head coach Jon Gruden.
Now, Gruden will be at full form in his second season. Reggie McKenzie’s conservative trade approach will no longer hinder Gruden. Instead, the Raiders employ Mike Mayock at general manager who might also look at a big splash during his first offseason in an NFL front office.
Who could Gruden and Mayock look to trade for this offseason? Here are three trade targets the Raiders should consider this offseason.
Trade for Odell Beckham Jr. or Antonio Brown?
Let’s Start with the obvious suspects for a trade to the Raiders. Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown are already the stars of the trade block this offseason. Both were rumored in trades this past season and it appears both of their franchises are ready to move in a new direction.
Last year, the New England Patriots sent Brandin Cooks away for a first round pick. That should be the baseline for any trade involving Brown or Beckham Jr. as they’re both more popular and proven than Cooks.
Had a great meeting with Mr.Rooney today we discussed a lot of things and we cleared the air on several issues! We both agreed that it is time to move on but I’ll always have appreciation and gratitude towards the Rooney family and @steelers organization! #CallGod #Boomin pic.twitter.com/DEgURchvhW
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) February 19, 2019
Already, Brown met with the Steelers owner and both agreed it was time to move on which officially announced Brown’s request for a trade. A.B. has 11,207 career receiving yards and 74 touchdowns. That includes 1,297 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns last season. This is precisely the game breaking ability and scoring threat the Raiders desperately need in their offense. A.B. is also infamous for his versatility and work ethic which would be welcomed in the Silver and Black.
However, Brown will turn 31 very soon and this whole fallout from the Steelers has brought up a lot about his off-field attitude. The four-time All-Pro also brings a $22.17 million cap hit next year as well as over an $18 million hit the next two years. That’s a lot of coin for a franchise that just dealt two star players because they didn’t want to sign them to record contracts. Thus, the Raiders are probably better off investing in a deal for the other available, larger-than-life receiver.
Odds for what team @obj will be on for Week 1 of the 2019 NFL regular season (BetOnline):
Bears +2500 https://t.co/0HwGeSfJv8
— OddsShark (@OddsShark) February 14, 2019
Odell Beckham Jr. makes more sense as a Raiders trade prospect. It came out recently that the New England Patriots almost traded for Beckham Jr. OBJ has been pretty passive aggressive about the rumors but the Raiders could make sense if the talks are true. Beckham Jr. is in the first year of a 5-year, $90,000,000 contract extension he signed last offseason. He has a $21 million cap hit this year and one for $19.25 million next year. However, OBJ’s contract comes with a potential out after 2020, where a team can let him go with minimum dead money.
Not to mention, he is only 26-years-old and already has 5,476 career receiving yards and 44 touchdowns in just 59 career games. Despite battling injuries the past two seasons, OBJ’s 92.8 yards per game is the second best average all-time behind only Julio Jones, per SB Nation. He even threw two touchdowns last year.
This production, age and production as the focal point of an offense make him more worth of the Raiders’ trading picks to the Giants. The Raiders could offer one or two of their later first round picks paired with additional late round picks. Oakland could also offer a potential cap causality like Justin Ellis, Karl Joseph, Kelechi Osemele, Donald Penn, Jordy Nelson, Tahir Whitehead, Seth Roberts or anyone else the Giants may be interested. Any number of those players would probably get their walking papers anyways if the Raiders could swing a deal for Odell. Raiders QB Derek Carr would be thrilled to get either receiver but Odell Beckham Jr. makes more sense for the Silver and Black.
New York Jets Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams
It seems like Leonard Williams has been in Jets trade rumors since he got drafted. Williams was taken a few picks after the Raiders selected Amari Cooper in 2015 but it was a tough decision. It got even tougher with speculation Williams wanted to be a Raider.
Still, the Jets have gone back and forth on trading Williams or giving him an extension after next year. The 24-year-old finished last season with 42 tackles and five sacks. Now, he’ll be in the final year of his rookie deal which will pay him $14.2 million in 2019. This number could come down if Williams negotiates a long-term deal with more money back loaded. However, New York doesn’t need to immediately negotiate since they can also franchise Leonard after this season to keep him from hitting the open market.
Regardless, Oakland should look to move on a trade for Williams. The former USC tackle has primarily played end in the Jets 3-4 scheme but he’s more of a natural three-technique in a base 4-3 defense. That’s the defense Oakland runs and it is predicated on having disruption in the interior of the defense. Raiders defensive coordinator helped Geno Atkins thrive in that role with the Bengals and he could do the same for Williams in Oakland.
Of course, the Silver and Black have invested a lot of draft picks on defensive linemen over the past few seasons. That shouldn’t deter them from acquiring Williams because Williams will perform best with a deep defensive rotation around him. Moreover, the Raiders could also add one of their defensive tackles like Justin Ellis, PJ Hall or Mo Hurst with a first round draft pick to get Williams.
Ultimately, Williams would be a major upgrade over everything the Raiders have on the interior defensive line. He might even be better now and in the future than any other player the Raiders could draft with either of the 24th or 27th pick which makes this trade doable.
Miami Dolphins corner Xavien Howard
Speaking of players who have outperformed their rookie deals, Xavien Howard heard the trade rumors but he wants to stay where he is at. That won’t matter though if Miami doesn’t want to pay him the top corner money he deserves. Howard had 7 interceptions in 12 games last year and he was a bright spot on a team that is rebuilding. Coming fresh off his first Pro Bowl, the 25-year-old wants to set the corner market which is currently as high as $15 million. That’s a lot of cap for the Dolphis to throw at a non-quarterback before they embrace in a full rebuild.
Again, the Dolphins have options outside of trading him. They can let him play out the less than $2 million he’s owed in 2019 and franchise tag him next offseason. Or they can trade him for draft picks that help them embrace a rebuild.
Oakland desperately needs help at corner outside of Gareon Conley. Last year’s spot starters Daryl Worley and Rashaan Melvin both left much to be desired but they’re both on the open market again. Thus, Howard provides tremendous youth and production for a position of need.
It’s unclear if the Raiders would give Howard the money he wants. However, they could definitely afford to trade a first round pick as Howard will most likely be immediately better than any DB the Raiders could draft in the twenties or even sign in free agency.
Let’s also not forget former Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie is in the personnel department for the Dolphins now. That could help or hurt the Raiders negotiations with the Phins but who really knows?
Also, don’t sleep on the Raiders making a move for Emmanuel Sanders or Duke Johnson. Johnson has had nearly 500 receiving yards every year since he entered the league. That is precisely the versatility Oakland would cover in Jon Gruden’s West Coast system, especially for a third down back role. However, Cleveland employs a plethora of backs and they might be best off cutting Johnson rather than try to find a trade suitor. That’s why the Raiders might not trade for him so they can try to sign him outright.
Then, there’s Sanders who brings versatility to play inside or outside receiver. He does come from a division opponent which would make a deal awkward. Not to mention, Sanders makes over $8 million which is a lot for a 31-year-old who hasn’t played in more than 12 games or caught more than 1,000 yards in two seasons. Again, it is more likely the Silver and Black wait for Sanders to receive his walking papers from Denver before they try to acquire him.
The Verdict: Trading Back for more draft picks
Ultimately, trading draft picks for elite players is usually for teams looking for one or two players to put them over the edge. The Patriots and Rams have both used that strategy last season. However, it’s bad business for a team off a 4-12 season where they traded two of their best players and damn near their home market. It’s even more true when you consider many of the elite players on the market want elite money the Raiders probably won’t pay them. Thus, trading for draft picks seems like the Raiders most realistic prospect.
The Raiders have a few options if they’re targeting more picks than they already have. The Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots all hold multiple second round selections they could send to the Raiders to move up in the first round. However, each of those teams draft in the same proximity as the Raiders first round picks from Chicago and Dallas in the twenties.
That means one of those other teams would have to really want a specific player to give up a second round pick for a small jump in the first. Otherwise, it is is unlikely the Raiders would give up the fourth pick to any team drafting that late unless they were giving up multiple first and second rounders.
Currently, the only other team with more than one first round pick is the Green Bay Packers. The Pack hold the No. 12 and 30th spot in the upcoming draft.
Perhaps Green Bay falls in love with a defensive player they think will be available at No. 4 overall. The Raiders would need at least the 30th pick with the 12th pick to let the Packers jump that high. However, Oakland has done worse deals. At the very least they could settle for the 12th pick along with the Packers 44th pick and some other late round compensation.
Although trading back for more picks isn’t technically a trade target, it is probably the Raiders most likely trade route. Realistically, Oakland doesn’t have much business trading for any one when they’re still in the middle of a major rebuild.