Granted, most fans live for the draft. Due to the potential of young talent and building a solid nucleus, fans want to stay younger. On the other hand, Jon Gruden takes a different approach with the Raiders. While he appears to favor veterans, Gruden’s motives may not be readily clear. In that case, here are a few reasons why veterans make sense for the Oakland Raiders
For as long as football appears on TV, clichés will pollute the screen. For this reason, the phrase “young, hungry players” holds little to no water. Under Gruden, the Raiders stockpiled names that do not exactly roll off the tongue. Yet, they could serve as an underrated piece of the championship puzzle. For instance, the average fan did not know Thai Whitehead’s name until he signed this spring. However, Whitehead will see extensive action as a presumed starter at linebacker. Although just 28, Whitehead played for inconsistent Lions team for the entirety of his career until 2018. Under those consequences, the chance to play in meaningful games weekly remains a motivator. During his six years in Detroit, Whitehead’s teams finished 47-49 (0-3 playoffs)
When the Raiders inked Derrick Johnson to a deal, it raised eyebrows. Most believed that NaVorro Bowman would receive an offer. In contrast, no one saw Johnson walking into Alameda. During the season, he turns 26. After logging 182 games, Johnson still wants that long playoff run. In his career, the former Chief appeared in only six playoff games.
For Johnson, there is no rebuild or process. His motivation resides in time. He does not have many playing years remaining. In that case, expect him to give 2018 extraordinary effort. If the Raiders manage to exceed expectations and make a run, players like Johns must perform at a high level. Given that his coverage skills and speed are superior to Bowman, Johnson can clean up plays and shadow backs without hesitation.
Proving Doubters Wrong
In Wisconsin, most people view Jordy Nelson as an icon, a player that tallied obscene number for the Packers. However, the further out of the state, some see Jordy Nelson as a beneficiary of playing alongside Aaron Rodgers. Signing with Oakland actually suits Rodgers purposes. First, he gets to play for an offensive-minded coach and within an offense, which fits his skillset at this stage of his career. The Raiders give Nelson the ability to silence doubters that believe his quarterback gave him a career. In addition, if things break right, a Packers/Raiders Super Bowl could be a sweet piece of revenge for Nelson. Apparently, the Packers lowballed an offer to him.
For these three veterans, signing with the Raiders made sense. Each sits at various points of their careers. Yet, each will have a dramatic, sustained impact on this team.