Last year marked the beginning of the Mark Mayock and Jon Gruden relationship.
Eyes turned towards Oakland as many people wondered how the front office with the most media experience in the NFL would perform together in a front office environment where egos are hard enough to manage.
Good Start, Weird Progression
Things started off great. Last year it was all googly eyes throughout the draft process as they were spotted together throughout the process. Then things got weird hard knocks and Antonio Brown. Then it went silent, according to Tim Kawakami who pointed out Mayock was noticeably not accessible for the media
Rumors surfaced that Mayock might be on his way out in only his second year. Gruden is known for making rash decisions but even that seemed premature for him. Luckily, that was all but killed when the two were seen together at the college All-Star practices again this year.
Still, the question begs itself, what will the Gruden-Mayock relationship be in year two?
Mayock is in year two as GM and now has his feet under him. Pay attention closely to his long and short term plans as the offseason unveils.
Does Jon Gruden still have the final say on personnel?
Will Mayock purge his roster of more pics made by former GM Reggie McKenzie? Does that mean Arden Key, PJ Hall, and others remaining from McKenzie’s last Draft Class get their walking papers?
How will Mayock attack the draft, this time around?
Will the front office continue to add players from high caliber programs like last year? Or has the culture already been set so the team can take the best player available?
How will the Raiders attack free agency? Do they take another flyer on a high profile and high impact player like Antonio Brown? Cough… Odell Beckham Jr.?
Do they go after scheme-fits like Nevin Lawson and Vontaze Burfict again? Do they scrap the bargain again for guys like Curtis Riley? Do last year’s underperformer last year is an underperforming acquisition like Tyrell Williams and Lamarcus Joyner get their walking papers since their contracts have outs?
These are all questions the Raiders front office is going to have to answer as they prepare to move to Las Vegas.
Speaking of which, how does the team’s status moving to Las Vegas impact their negotiations?
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Do they shy away from the short term upfront cash deals we’ve become accustomed to them making? Do they go all-in on big-name free agents to try and sell out every single game to build brand Vegas awareness?
Will the new tax situation in Nevada, which is much easier on Texas than California, impact salaries in negotiations? What if the Raiders try and negotiate special clauses to protect themselves against any sort of suspension from prostitution or gambling or any of the other things easily accessible in sin city?
We have to remember Vegas is really uncharted territory since the NHL is the only other major sporting league with a team there. The NFL is moving to the state of Nevada for tor the first time.
Ultimately, this relationship between Gruden and Mayock can go anywhere in year two. They could easily continue helping the Raiders grow the foundation that develops them into winners. It could also go the other way via divorce which is typical for pro football front offices with large egos. At the moment, there are more questions than answers.
Either way, it’s going to be an intriguing off-season as we watch these two characters continue building a winning relationship. We should get a much better idea of what the Gruden-Mayock work dynamic looks like with each step of the offseason process. It’s their second time doing everything. Mayock isn’t only getting up to speed. Gruden isn’t waiting for him to get up to speed either, not that he was last year anyway.
The Master Plan
Pay close attention to which strategy they employ at the draft in free agency. This should really indicate what Mayock has learned and developed himself from year one to year two.
If he relies on the same archetypes and strategy as last year we can see a trend towards exactly the type of players he wants. If not, we know he learned that being an actual front office is different than analyzing one as a media personnel.
Moreover, Gruden and Mayock presume to be together for a few seasons barring any more A.B. disagreements. That means the Raiders will have an unprecedented consistency at GM and head coach and owner. You could say McKenzie and Jack Del Rio had a similar continuity working together four seasons but remember McKenzie was already there three years. Nobody ever said JDR was RM’s first choice for coach either.
The point is, the 2020 offseason should give us a much better picture of the Raiders’ five-year plan presuming GM and Head Coach continue to optimize their relationship and learn from one another.