At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, Seth Roberts found himself with the unenviable task of blocking defensive linemen and linebackers. Moreover, despite his lanky and slender frame, the former undrafted free agent excelled at removing defenders from the equation. The Oakland Raiders, however, are not paying Roberts decent coin to be just a blocking specialist. The third-year man is a wide receiver by trade. In addition, in that regard, he has turned out to be a well-compensated dud.
Be it from the slot or on the outside, Roberts was not an effective pass catcher. Earning $2 million this past season, Roberts hauled in 43 passes for 455 yards and one score. He did not record a single 100-yard receiving game — his highest output was a 52-yard outing against the Dallas Cowboys — and never had more than five catches in a game. His lone touchdown was a 19-yard strike in Week 1 against the Tennessee Titans. In the two previous seasons, Roberts snared 10 total TDs. He was also snagged for a trio of dropped passes and two fumbles (both lost). This is not the kind of production team’s want from a receiver who earned a three-year, $12-million extension prior to this past season.
To be fair, Roberts lackluster 2017 was not entirely his doing.
There is no argument; the Raiders offense was a cluster you-know-what under offensive coordinator Todd Downing. The shift from veteran Bill Musgrave to Jack Del Rio and Mike Tice’s handpicked prodigy was an epic faceplant. Every player on the offensive side languished through an exercise in futility.
That will not be the case under Gruden. Unlike Del Rio, Chucky demands attention to detail; near perfection. Also, he will hold players accountable for their shortcomings.
Image the scene on the sideline after Roberts’ brainfreeze red zone fumble against the New England Patriots — he was carrying the ball one-handed as he was spun only for it to be punched out.
Gruden would be in his face like a rabid dog. That patented Gruden glare coupled with his glorious and innovative use of the F Bomb would have been must-see TV.
If a player cannot handle that kind of heat, then sorry. Gruden’s Raiders are not for you.
It’s imperative Roberts maintain his high-quality blocking and increase his performance as a pass catcher. He will get more opportunities in a Gruden offense that likes to spread the ball and use a variety of weapons to stretch a defense thin.
However, if Roberts has plateaued, a sub 50-catch, 500-yard receiver is not hard to find, especially one that is considerably cheaper. With a cap number of $4.45 million ($2.25 million base salary, $2 million roster bonus and a $200,000 workout bonus), Roberts has no room for error. His penchant for losing the ball will end up with him losing his roster spot.