For the first time since Rich Gannon, there’s some hope for the Raiders.
I’m not talking about “Oh, I hope this draft pick pans out” type of hope. I’m talking “The Raiders might win the division” type of hope. It’s crazy that they might be the most dangerous team in a division including two last-year playoff teams, and one that won the Super Bowl this past year.
So, what happened?
I’ll tell you what happened, because I have a blog to write about. Just sit back, relax, and read on.
The Raiders: Reloaded project started a couple of years back, when the Raiders drafted anchors on both offense and defense with Khalil Mack, an All-Pro player at both outside linebacker and defensive end, and Derek Carr, a Pro-Bowl quarterback. Right when the season kicked off, it was pretty evident the Raiders lucked out, as both showed a lot of flashes of potential and talent, but couldn’t convert into team wins.
Last year, the Raiders drafted the very talented wide receiver, Amari Cooper, who fit in with Carr perfectly on offense. Mix that with a breakout year for running back Latavius Murray and a redemption year for veteran wide out Michael Crabtree, it seemed that the Raiders could actually amount to something with all of this potential. Ending at 7-9, most Raiders fans were pleased to see what would come next.
Enter this year’s free agency.
Bruce Irvin, stud linebacker and a top ten free agency option from the Seattle Seahawks joins the team.
Sean Smith, top cornerback on the market from the Kansas City Chiefs joins the team to play for his hometown.
Aldon Smith, once considered a top-three outside linebacker in the league, barred with off-field issues that he’s as-of-recently changed his ways on, decides to come back to the team.
Reggie Nelson, a stud veteran safety who led the league in interceptions last year and coming off of his best season commits to the Raiders.
The Raiders sign two great offensive linemen in new acquisition Kelechi Osemele, and in re-signing veteran tackle Donald Penn.
See what I mean?
So many splashes in free agency, I’m already wet off of the hype. I’m soaked. Think about it. The Raiders are finally getting it right; they draft the players that are the building blocks of the team, guys like Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper, and Derek Carr. Then, they fill in the holes with all the extra money lying around (because most of their players are on rookie contracts) and bring in plenty of key contributions that can change the pace this team is on, without adding any star-power (which is more of a problem than it is a solution usually.)
And, I mean, the stars are aligning for Oakland at the right moment. Kansas City has reached their peak with this current squad, and could easily plateau next year. Denver, as we all know, lost it’s starting quarterbacks, one to retirement and one to free agency, and San Diego was at a new low last year (sure a lot of it was from injury, but there’s a lot of questions there as well).
For the first time in a long time, we might see a good Raiders squad.
Or as I like to call it, Raiders: Reloaded.