We all knew it was going to happen. We all knew it had to happen. Terrelle Pryor needed to be traded and he wanted out of Oakland after the moves the Raiders had made this offseason. But for some fans, myself included, held out hope the Raiders would find a new role for Pryor and hold onto him. Now with Pryor shipped to Seattle the Raiders have officially ended the Al Davis era.
After an up and down first season as a starter, Pryor flashed incredible athletic/playmaking ability. Although Pryor had some great highlights it was apparent he was not the quarterback of the future Dennis Allen wanted. Reggie McKenzie went out and traded for a stop gap QB in Matt Schaub. The trade for Schaub was the beginning of the end for Pryor in Oakland. About a month later Pryor was traded to Seattle for a 7th Rd pick.
Terrelle Pryor, as many fans know, was the last draft pick Al Davis made before passing away in late 2011. Al was also the owner/gm who drafted other recently departed Raiders, Jared Veldheer and Lamarr Houston. Those three players were the last remaining high profile players from the Davis era. Now that they have gone to other teams this team is fully turned over to Reggie McKenzie.
Fans of the team could see this coming. Al Davis is a legend in Oakland for what he has done for the team and league, but over the last decade or so some of the moves he had made were highly questionable to say the least. From undermining head coaches, to giving huge contracts to aging players Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour, to drafting DHB in the first round and arguably worst of all drafting JaMarcus Russell with the number 1 pick in 2007. It is hard to criticize GMs for busts because everyone drafts their fair share, but the Russell and DHB picks left some to question if Al Davis was capable of running a team in this day and age.
With the label of mediocre attached to the Raiders since 2003, McKenzie was forced to strip the team down and rebuild from scratch. Which is exactly what he has done since taking over in 2012. We are starting to see what kind of team Reggie wants to build. The moves McKenzie made this offseason were very smart and calculated. They should set the team up to compete at a higher level than the first two seasons of his regime.
After a shaky start, Reggie has given fans plenty of reasons to believe the franchise is in good hands. This upcoming draft will be pivotal for the current regime and could possibly be a franchise defining moment. If McKenzie is able to land an immediate impact starter and multiple late round sleepers/contributors, the Raiders could be closer to the playoffs than many “experts” think.
While all Raiders’ fans should be grateful for what Al Davis has done for the franchise, we should also be happy to see this team moving in a different direction. Sometimes a complete rebuild is whats best for a team. The Raiders are making moves and looking to build a team the right way. Even without Davis it seems McKenzie is building an old school Raider team (smash mouth O-Line/D-Line).
Al Davis is gone, but he is not forgotten. The identity he built for this team in the 60s-80s is starting to be put back together in this current team. The new regime is bringing back old school Raider football, that is something to get excited about. The Silver and Black may not be back just yet, but the are coming and coming fast.