The Oakland Raiders made the playoffs as a wild card team last season. It was quite the turnaround for the team that had gone 13 straight years with a winning record.
The Raiders have developed a very good young roster with a franchise quarterback that can lead them to the next level. They are trending in the right direction to win their first division title since 2002.
Here are the three best moves and the worst one made by the Oakland Raiders this offseason.
#1. Signing Jared Cook
Cook has been a terribly inconsistent tight end throughout his seven-year NFL career, but last season with a high-end quarterback, he emerged as a quality receiver. After spending four seasons with the Tennessee Titans and three years with the St. Louis Rams, Cook signed with the Green Bay Packers and had Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball with the Green Bay Packers.
At 6-feet-5-inches tall and 254-pounds, Cook is one of the more athletic tight ends in the league. He has the ability to stretch the middle of the field and open up the outside for wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.
The Raiders have one of the more dynamic passing offenses in the league with weapons at each position. Cook gives them one more at tight end.
#2. Signing Cordarrelle Patterson
Patterson is another dynamic weapon the Raiders signed in free agency. Patterson was looking for a better contract or situation when free agency opened and he eventually signed a two-year deal with the Raiders.
He is big, fast and electric with the ball in his hands. Although Patterson never seemed to figure out the route running aspect of playing wide receiver in the NFL, he should be a x-factor as the team’s kick returner.
#3. Signing Marshall Newhouse
The Raiders let former second round draft pick Menelik Watson leave in free agency and instead signed former New York Giant Marshall Newhouse. Newhouse is a definite upgrade, as he is slated to start next to Gabe Jackson on the right side of the offensive line.
The 6-foot-4, 328-pound offensive tackle said when he signed with the Raiders in March that the direction of the team was a big draw. Because of free agents like Newhouse signing in Oakland, the Raiders don’t have to overpay out of desperation.
The worst: Risky draft picks and free agent moves
The Raiders are an ascending team, but they made some risky moves this offseason. Those moves include a couple draft picks, free agent losses and a trade.
The riskiest loss in free agency was defensive tackle Stacy McGee. He wasn’t a starter, but performed really well when he got reps. His departure leaves just Darius Latham and Justin Ellis as the only defensive tackles on the roster with NFL experience, with one and three years in the NFL, respectively.
On draft day, the Raiders took controversial cornerback Gareon Conley in the first round and defensive Eddie Vanderdoes in the third. Two days before the draft, Conley was accused of sexual assault (he claims the allegations are untrue). If he is convicted of a crime, the Raiders will have a serious setback, as missing on first round draft picks is difficult for teams to overcome (just ask longtime Raiders fans).
Vanderdoes is a risky pick for a different reason. He tore his ACL in 2015 and when he returned in 2016, he looked out of shape and did not play well. The Raiders have to believe that the prep work he did for the draft process is the real Vanderdoes. If not, the Raiders have little to no depth at defensive tackle.
The trade the Raiders made with the Seattle Seahawks is the riskiest move by any team this offseason. The Raiders acquired legendary running back Marshawn Lynch for practically nothing, but they will be relying on him to be the primary ball carrier. Lynch is a 31-year-old running back with a lot of wear and tear on his body and even though he sat out last season, he has over 2,000 carries in the NFL. It's doubtful the Raiders upgraded their running back position by letting Latavius Murray leave and replacing him with Lynch. If Lynch is hurt or ineffective, the Raiders offense will be completely one-dimensional.