It was another busy offseason for the Silver and Black. So what are the most important issues facing the always-interesting Oakland Raiders this year?
It’s a franchise that has made just one postseason appearance since 2003. That came just 3 years ago, when the Silver and Black won 12 games but finished as a wild card in the AFC West behind the Kansas City Chiefs. And in Week 16 of ’16, quarterback Derek Carr went down with a broken leg and the Oakland Raiders wilted without their starting signal-caller in the playoffs at Houston.
And all told, these past two seasons have been disastrous for the club. A year ago, Jon Gruden returned to the Bay area as the team’s head coach, replacing Jack Del Rio – whose club won half as many games as it did the previous year. It would prove to be a less-than-stellar reunion as the team finished 4-12 and dead last in the AFC West.
So it’s been another offseason of big-name additions. The list of veterans includes wide receivers Antonio Brown (via trade from Pittsburgh) and Tyrell Williams, linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Brandon Marshall, tackle Trent Brown and free safety Lamarcus Joyner. The Raiders also added three players via the first round of April’s draft.
Is this the year it all comes together and the culture starts to change for this franchise? There are a few questions that certainly are begging for answers.
5. Who emerges as the successor to TE Jared Cook?
In 2018, veteran tight end Jared Cook would embark on his second season with the Silver and Black. And the well-traveled offensive performer responded by putting up career numbers. The 32-year-old pro was named to his first Pro Bowl after finishing with 68 receptions for 896 yards and six touchdowns. But he has now taken his skills to the Big Easy, teaming with New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees.
The current depth chart at this position includes Darren Waller, Derek Carrier and newcomers Luke Willson. A year ago, Cook tied for the team lead (with running back Jalen Richard). But with high-volume wideout Antonio Brown around, will quarterback Derek Carr rely a bit less on his tight ends and running backs. Adding a player who has totaled 100-plus receptions an NFL-record six straight seasons may be a good indicator.