The Las Vegas Raiders were inexplicably graded as having the worst offseason in the NFL by ESPN for their free agent and draft decisions.
The Las Vegas Raiders have had a busy offseason so far and the results of it have split opinions among Raider Nation. Many did not like the fact that veterans Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson were let go, while others understood the need to go younger and cheaper on the offensive line.
Other moves such as the decision to release Mo Hurst or not retain the services of Nelson Agholor were also met with consternation but plenty of other moves were well-received. The additions of CB Casey Heyward and DE Yannick Ngakoue were universally lauded by pundits, especially at the price they signed for, and many of the Raiders’ draft picks were well received as well.
Raiders given worst offseason grade by ESPN
Obviously, not everything has gone right for the Raiders but for some inexplicable reason, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell has them as having the worst offseason in the NFL. Barnwell is not a fan of the Kenyan Drake signing, the addition of Gus Bradley, the upheaval of the offensive line, and the decision to draft OL Alex Leatherwood at 17th overall.
Barnwell contends that “given the Raiders’ recent track record with draft picks, they don’t deserve any benefit of the doubt” about Leatherwood and that the team should have “made the call to the ultimate turnaround expert and hired Wade Phillips”. His issues with the Drake signing and rebuilding of the offensive line are easily debunked given what we know about the structuring of the RB’s contract and the fact that Trent Brown and Gabe Jackson were going to be released anyway for cap reasons.
He also fails to note that the “one of the league’s most impressive offensive lines” was not all that impressive aside from Hudson and Kolton Miller and clearly needed some reshuffling.
Even the worst of those moves, trading Rodney Hudson, was something the player pushed for and the Raiders acquiesced knowing they have a capable replacement in Andre James. Even his criticism of the Leatherwood selection was debunked with reports that the Ravens planned to take him in the 20s and the Raiders were also still able to take a first-round-rated safety in Trevon Moehrig in the second round.
What is especially confounding about the ranking he gives the Raiders, is that he somehow puts them behind a team like the Houston Texans who might be without their star QB Deshaun Watson for a lengthy period because of his well-publicized legal issues. He also puts the Raiders behind a team in Green Bay whose QB has gone AWOL rather than report to any team activities and Atlanta who traded away a Hall of Fame receiver for peanuts because of their disastrous cap situation.
No one is saying that the Raiders had a perfect offseason by any means but to suggest that they had a worse offseason than the aforementioned teams or others that are in the middle of a full tear down like the Detroit Lions is ridiculous. The Raiders still have work to do to become a playoff contender but the pieces are in place and the team has done well to try and patch the holes exposed during the 2020 stretch run.
Bill Barnwell might not have liked the moves very much but we know that nothing is decided on paper in May or June, only what happens from September and beyond is the true judge of the success or failure of an offseason.