Instead of settling on a 2017 NFL Draft pick to fill one of their remaining needs, the Oakland Raiders could look toward the trade market to make an upgrade.
It’s not often we see blockbuster trades go down in the NFL. They typically only occur when one team feels they’re one piece away from being true contenders, and the other team is desperate to unload a player. The Oakland Raiders could soon find themselves in that near contender role.
The Silver and Black proved in 2016 that they’re nearing contender status. Although an untimely injury to Derek Carr washed them out of the playoffs early, their 12-4 regular season record convinced the league they’re a team worth taking seriously. That should continue to ring true in 2017, especially if they make another splash or two before Week 1.
As it so happens, there are a number of intriguing stars currently rumored to be on the trade block. What’s more fortunate for the Raiders is most of them would fill a significant hole in this roster. With eight picks at their disposal, it’s perfectly reasonable to imagine Oakland going out and using those draft assets to acquire established playmakers.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at three big-name trade targets for the Raiders. These players would need to be dealt for before or during the draft, seeing as the other teams would likely require picks in return.
For a minute, let’s live in a world where acquiring Marshawn Lynch doesn’t work out. Either the Seattle Seahawks want too much for him in a trade, or the 30-year-old running back simply changes his mind. A trade is expected soon (via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport), but nothing is guaranteed until a deal is official.
That then leaves the Raiders with only DeAndre Washington, Jalen Richard and Taiwan Jones as their running backs. Seeing as all three are similar in playing style and have limited starting experience, I don’t see that as an ideal scenario. Sure, the Raiders could add an extra body via the draft, but there’s no guarantee that’ll pan out either.
Instead, trading for a proven playmaker makes sense, right? In this situation, I’m talking about Carlos Hyde, who the San Francisco 49ers are apparently ready to give up on (via Draft Analyst’s Tony Pauline). If that is the case, the 49ers may be willing to send him off for a mid-round pick before or during the draft.
Now there are obviously concerns with Hyde. He’s missed 12 games over the last two seasons due to injury, and is limited to an early-down role with almost zero pass-catching chops. However, with the other runners filling that role just fine, Hyde could hypothetically be the power for the Oakland offense.
If it only costs a Day-3 pick to get him, I don’t see the harm in rolling the dice. That is, assuming the whole Lynch thing doesn’t work out.
In the past, the Raiders have shown a willingness to take on talent with baggage. They did so with Aldon Smith, who paid initial dividends before the same off-field mistakes that got him ousted in San Francisco came back to bite him. Despite that, I wouldn’t put it past them to gamble again.
So why not take a chance on someone such as Sheldon Richardson? When he’s on his game, he’s one of the best defensive linemen in the business. He wins with power and surprising athleticism, and seems like he’d be a capable fit at the three-technique — a position the Raiders failed to address during free agency.
The Jets have been trying to unload Richardson for some time. He’s got off-field issues that will scare some teams away, but is worth the risk when healthy and playing at his best. In his first couple of years in the NFL, he proved to be a dynamic defensive talent, earning 2013 Rookie of the Year honors and making the Pro Bowl in 2014.
According to NJ.com’s Connor Hughes, it’s believed Richardson could be had before or during the draft. The asking price would likely be no more than a mid-round pick considering his character concerns. There’s no way the Raiders are going to find someone in the middle rounds who has the same potential as the former first-round pick.
If they feel they can keep him out of trouble, it may be right for the Silver and Black to roll the dice and bring the dominant defender aboard.
It seemed odd when rumors first surfaced of Richard Sherman potentially being on the trading block. Now that both Sherman and the Seattle Seahawks have confirmed, it’s all the more baffling. And yet, why shouldn’t Oakland jump at the opportunity if it truly has presented itself?
Right now, the Raiders need help at cornerback. Their two starters, Sean Smith and David Amerson, are coming off lackluster 2016 campaigns but are getting paid like stars. The depth at the position is nearly nonexistent, with only T.J. Carrie serving as a quality backup. They’re expected to address the issue via the draft, but rookie cornerbacks often struggle in the NFL.
So why not swing for the fences with a talent such as Sherman? Sure, he’s a little abrasive at times, but he’s still an elite cornerback with all of the size and athleticism the Raiders love at the position. His 29 years of age could also be a concern, but Terence Newman has proven cornerbacks can still shine well into their 30s.
My only concern would be the asking price. The latest has the Seahawks looking for first- and mid-round picks for Sherman (via NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling), which is steep-but-fair compensation for a player of his abilities. However, the Raiders could potentially swap Sherman for Smith or Amerson, and throw in an early-round pick for good measure. That way they limit their draft losses, and Seattle gets a capable starter in return.
As ESPN’s Dan Graziano pointed out, Sherman played for Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., so there’s the familiarity factor. The roster is already loaded, so parting with a pick or two isn’t a death sentence. Maybe they could even make him part of the Lynch deal…