Sunday, ESPN reported that the Oakland Raiders would be buyers before the October 29 NFL trade deadline and noted they were studying available pass-rushers and linebackers.
Then, Oakland went out and was slapped around in Green Bay, 42-24, by the Packers to drop to 3-3 on the season.
Monday morning, Oakland, indeed, made a trade, but it was as a seller, not as a buyer. The Raiders surprisingly shipped 2017 first-round pick, cornerback Gareon Conley, to the Houston Texans for a 2020 third-round pick. The move come hours after Conley played 58 of 60 defensive snaps in a game where Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers had five touchdown passes and had a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3. Conley did not have a good game in what ended up being his final game as a Raider.
Let’s breakdown the deal and what it means for the Raiders:
Why the Raiders traded Conley: He wasn’t playing great as the No.1 cornerback in Oakland. There were rumors Oakland was going to trade him last year. He lasted 22 games in Jon Gruden’s system. There are now just eight players left from before Gruden became the $100 million man in Oakland less than two years ago. Only six of those players were drafted by Oakland, which is a brutally low number.
Who will replace him? After trading Conley, Gruden said the Raiders wanted to get younger at cornerback. That is curious since Conley is just 24 years old. Trayvon Mullen, Oakland’s second-round pick, will get the chance to start Sunday against the Houston Texans and Conley. Mullen, from Clemson, played just 14 snaps in the past three games. Now, it appears, he will get an opportunity to play a huge role in Paul Guenther’s defense.
Conley’s time in Oakland: The Ohio State product was the No. 24 overall draft pick in the 2017 draft. Conley was considered a top 15 prospect, but a rape allegation that surfaced just before the draft likely affected his draft status. He was legally cleared in that allegation months later. Injuries kept Conley from playing most of his rookie season. Conley started 20 of the 23 games he played for the Raiders.
Was the compensation good? Teams never want to turn the No. 24 overall into a third-round pick two years later, but it’s a solid compensation for a player the Raiders wanted to move away from. The pick is from Seattle as part of the Jadeveon Clowney trade this summer. The Seahawks are 5-2, so this pick could be in the 80-90 overall range. Oakland has two first-round picks, no second-round picks and now three third-round picks in 2020. So, they have some solid draft ammo.
Another first-rounder traded: Conley is their third first-round pick Gruden has traded in less than 14 months. Gruden dealt pass-rusher Khalil Mack (No. 5 overall, 2014) to Chicago and wide receiver Amari Cooper (No. 4, 2015) to Dallas last year.
Fifth-year option trend continues: In the era of first-round picks getting fifth-year options, Conley is the fifth first-rounder Oakland took. None of the previous first-rounders stuck around in Oakland to get the fifth-year option. Teams draft players to give them a second contract. It hasn’t worked in Oakland and it is affecting the building process.
Will the Raiders make more deals before deadline? Gruden said Monday that the Raiders will try to be active. Don’t let the Conley sell-off make you think the Raiders won’t buy. Gruden is a mover and a shaker. It’s very plausible that he triesto add pieces if the price is right on defense. Perhaps the Conley compensation will be used as bait.
The bottom line: The Conley experience was less than successful. Gruden didn’t take him and was committed to him. It has been the story of the Gruden return to Oakland.