With the Raiders releasing guard Gabe Jackson, questions abound about the direction of the franchise. With the heat turned up to lava levels, the Vegas braintrust needs to find a way. Not only must the Raiders make the playoffs, but they also need a deep playoff run. With the quarterback of their choice and a roster of their own creation, the Raiders cannot afford another near-miss. Meanwhile, the team stands before difficult questions that they may not face.
Where’s the Jackson money going?
In releasing Gabe Jackson, the team saves roughly ten million dollars. Now, what to do with that money? If you hear the Gruden/Carr apologists, they point to the defense as the main flaw of the franchise. At the same time, these people pine for Allen Robinson or throwing money at Nelson Agholor. Pick one direction, and follow it. The defense needs serious retooling. The line generates zero pass rush, lacks talent. Similarly, the secondary looks porous, filled with average to subpar defenders that struggle mightily in coverage. The Silver and Black need to gather what cap money they possess and throw it at all three levels of the defense. Now, the decision-makers, specifically Gruden must sign quality defenders. No Tahir Whitehead or any similarly limited athletes.
Speaking of Gabe Jackson, who shoulders the blame for his contract?
If you look back with a clear eye, Reggie McKenzie, for all of his cap skills, set the franchise back in spots. When the Raiders extended Derek Carr and Gabe Jackson, they ignored a key component. Khalil Mack, in every way, shape, and form, deserved the extension before the quarterback and guard. How? The Raiders, since the Mack trade, lacked a premium, cornerstone defender. Remember, Mack, garnered two All-Pro nods, at two different positions, in the same season. McKenzie helped the Raiders from cap hell but kneecapped them when dealing with a generational talent.
What happens to the offensive line now?
First, the team, according to reports, Vegas shopped Trent Brown. With the free-agent market appearing thin for tackles, Brown could command a modest return. When healthy, Brown ranks as a dominant right tackle. Unfortunately, unlucky injuries continue to follow him. Plus, the interior of the line brings its own set of issues. Richie Incognito returns from injury, another year older and slower. Yet, the Raiders seem enthralled with him. So, he stays. Now, Denzelle Good earned himself a hefty raise. Will he grab a two-year, loaded deal, or will the team add a third year? Re-signing Good solidifies the middle.
As Kolton Miller shows rapid improvement and Rodney Hudson ambles towards Canton, the Raiders start the free agency process with question marks at the other three line spots. As we all know, teams win games at the line of scrimmage. The Chiefs learned that the hard way. How will Gruden and Mayock address this issue?