The Oakland Raiders turned in an offseason like no other. In January they wasted little time in their search for a new head coach. Following a 6-10 regular season in 2017, the Raiders parted ways with then-head coach Jack Del Rio on Dec. 31, 2017. Shortly after the Raiders hired familiar face, Jon Gruden as head coach. Gruden’s first stint with the silver and black went from 1998-2001 where he went 40-28 (including playoffs).
Gruden and company got to work this past spring with the National Football League draft. Oakland had the 15th overall pick in the draft and selected tackle Kolton Miller. Miller is a Northern California native and went to University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).
“It’s a dream come true to play for the Raiders,” said Miller during training camp.
Along with Miller, Oakland had eight more draft picks that weekend.
Draft day also came with a cost as the team traded away their fifth round draft pick (79th overall) to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for talented, but troubled wide receiver Martavis Bryant. He had been suspended by the Steelers in 2017 for substance abuse. On Saturday, Sept. 1 Bryant was released by the team and is currently facing a four-game suspension after another failed test.
During training camp and all of preseason, all pro outside linebacker Khalil Mack did not report as a result of a holdout of his contract. Mack was granted a trade on Saturday, Sept. 1 in the early morning hours and was shipped off to the windy city to play for the Chicago Bears. In return for Mack, Oakland will receive multiple draft picks including a pair of first round picks. During his time with Oakland, Mack was a three time Pro Bowler; two time First Team All-Pro and NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Mack was selected number five overall in the 2014 draft and recorded 304 tackles and 40.5 sacks.
Sept. 1 was a busy day for Oakland as they trimmed their roster down to 53 players. Notable casualties from the cuts included Conner Cook, E.J. Manuel, Johnny Holton, Isaac Whitney and Shareece Wright.
With all the uncertainty looming this season, Oakland’s offense made adjustments adding free agents Jordy Nelson and Doug Martin. The team also secured Derek Carr’s back up when they traded for quarterback AJ McCarron this past weekend. Special teams also went through an overhaul this offseason when they sent punter Marquette King to Denver and longtime place kicker Sabastian Janikowski signed with the Seahawks. Punting for the Raiders this year is rookie Johnny Townsend and place kicker will be veteran Mike Nugent.
Oakland opens up the regular season on Monday night, Sept. 10 when they host the Los Angeles Rams. The game can be seen on ESPN. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:20 p.m.