The Easter week edition of the Oakland Raiders Weekly Roundup. Here, we’ll pull together any notable Silver and Black news from the previous week and put it together all in one place.
We’re back here at Only 1 Nation with the weekly Oakland Raiders Roundup, bringing you the latest news from the past week. After a flurry of activity the first two weeks of free agency, things were relatively quiet — but as usual there is still much to discuss.
A couple of surprise (?) cuts, Jon Gruden talking team needs and more good news for the Las Vegas stadium project from the owner’s meetings. Always things happening.
One thing happened that is surprising, based on performance alone at least, is that…
The Raiders Cut Marquette King
Yes, Marquette has left the building. For good. He didn’t even actually get all the way in:
Marquette King went over to the Raiders' facility today to meet some of the coaches. Never got the chance. GM Reggie McKenzie pulled him in, spoke to him and, in the end, informed King he was being released.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 30, 2018
Damn, that’s cold. And, honestly, less than King deserved.
Initial speculation was that King’s on and off-field antics — his dancing, preening and dressing as a King on the NFL Network — wore on Jon Gruden and the new head coach said nope. Gruden released King to send a message to the team — no one personality is bigger than the team.
Sure, King could be a bit flashy at times, particularly as just “a punter” who certainly rubbed some the wrong way. Personally, I enjoyed most of his celebrations — the Ray Lewis and “Ride the Bronco” in particular — but unfortunately he didn’t stop there and began to get a little out of control.
He got four 15-yard flags in the past two seasons, unacceptable for a punter. However, he also routinely pins the other team deep and booms 50+ yard punts to get the Raiders out of poor field position. He has unmatched athleticism as a punter, coming in handy on bad snaps and one in particular he wrangled and ran for an impressive first down. His willingness to tackle — almost taking Tyreek Hill’s head off is a highlight — also is rare in a punter.
King’s talent and dedication to his craft cannot be questioned. He has been one of the best and most consistent punters in the NFL since his 2013 debut, and is a two-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro. He has the leg. And while his personality may cost the Raiders at times, after trading Cordarrelle Patterson the Raiders have given up their top two special teams weapons from 2017. And they’ve also lost their long-time kicker.
Gruden isn't interested in shenanigans and it saves $3M. I don't like it though…King is a weapon, and field position is extremely valuable.
So trading Cordarrelle and now cutting Marquette hurts the Raiders on both sides of the field position battle. https://t.co/dXQwjczy3P
— Nick Hjeltness (@NickHjeltness) March 31, 2018
The Gruden rumors have since been substantiated in numerous reports:
Jon Gruden was reportedly behind the Raiders' decision to cut Marquette King, and not because of King's punting https://t.co/in4JpQYQpp
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) April 1, 2018
While nothing specific has come out about exactly what it is Gruden doesn’t like about King, Marquette’s outrageous appearance on the NFL Network couldn’t have helped:
— Maurice Moton (@MoeMoton) March 30, 2018
But some have rightfully pointed out that King isn’t the only Raider who was doing flashy things in his spare time:
Gruden doesn’t want the “extra” of Marquette King but his QB is laying on a car hood wearing a suit of denim. OK pic.twitter.com/5yQ0wOZNbU
— lindsey ok (@lindseyyok) March 30, 2018
A lot of people aren’t fans of this move:
No Marquette King
I'm not a fan of what the Raiders are doing.
— Adam Rank (@adamrank) March 30, 2018
And some are even using logic to defy the main reasons trotted out for King’s release:
Most common is "he had too many penalties!" Marquette King had one penalty in 2017. One. And was the best punter in the league (again).
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) March 31, 2018
Cutting King saves the Raiders $2.9M against the salary cap, which is good considering they still need to sign NaVorro Bowman and reach a long-term deal with Khalil Mack.
It is what it is, like it or not. While you always want the best players possible at every position, think on this: the Raiders have consistently had one of the best punters in the league since Shane Lechler came into the league in 2000 and was replaced by King. It’s gotten them one winning season since 2002. So while important, clearly the punter doesn’t have a major overall impact on a team’s record no matter how good they are. Or at least they haven’t in Oakland.
Don’t cry for King, who as one of the best and most athletic punters in the league — and one of the most live-out-loud personalities — won’t be looking for work for long. Maybe he’ll enjoy himself more in his new digs, as long as it isn’t in the AFC West or New England. He certainly seemed unfazed by the news:
— Marquette King (@MarquetteKing) April 1, 2018
Regardless of feelings, while new Raiders ST coach Rich Bisaccia is a great coach with a proven track record, he’s going to need every ounce of that coaching ability. The Raiders have a completely new ST core after cutting Sebastian Janikowski, King, Jon Condo and trading Patterson.
It remains to be seen if these cuts were wise. New staffs like to install their own packages with their types of players, so the wholesale changeover does make sense in that regard — although it also makes me a bit nervous. We’re talking everything from long snapping to holding on field goals to rotation of punts and resulting coverage. Special teams is very nuanced, and suddenly it’s a whole new ballgame with new players and coaches. Time to get to work!
Unfortunately for him, that is no longer true for…
The Raiders decided to keep Jared Cook and his $6M salary and cut Walford instead. Cook has a much better track record of production and catching the ball, so this also makes sense. With Lee Smith, Derek Carrier and Cook around the Raiders have their blocking and receiving ends taken care of. Walford is the odd man out, and now is just out.
— NFL (@NFL) March 27, 2018
Walford has talent but could never stay healthy. Since being drafted in the third round in 2015, he appeared in 44 games with only 10 starts. He amassed 70 receptions for 768 yards and seven touchdowns in that time, never really cementing himself as a starter. An off-season ATV accident before the 2016 season threw off his progress and his was increasingly marginalized and expendable after the Raiders acquired Cook.
While this isn’t a surprise, a team that grabs Walford gets a player that is still relatively young and was productive enough at Miami and athletic enough for the Raiders to spend a third-rounder on him. While he didn’t enjoy success in Oakland and it makes sense to let him go, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him succeed elsewhere.
That’s it in the way of actual transaction news, but there was plenty of discussion about roster and player needs as…
Gruden Discusses The Roster
At the NFL owner’s meetings this past week, Gruden talked about the Raiders approach thus far to free agency, the rationale behind some of the moves and some things the Raiders still need to concentrate on to fill out the roster.
While Gruden didn’t home in on one area in particular, he did mention the secondary, o-line, inside pass rush and receiver specifically:
“We have needs. I’m not going to pound the table and say it’s one particular area,” Gruden said. “Our secondary is an area we’re going to continue to look at. Offensive tackle is going to be a position we continue to look at. Wide receiver – we’re not done there. I’ll keep going. Inside pass rusher on defense is a priority.”
This will make Raider Nation happy, as those are the positions that are consistently fretted over on Twitter and beyond. And anyone who knows football would agree these are areas of need to be sure.
One area he didn’t mention, interestingly, is linebacker. This leads one to believe that the acquisition of Tahir Whitehead has eased some stress, and that NaVorro Bowman is likely coming back. Stay tuned on that one.
Gruden also alluded the Raiders success rate in signing players this offseason:
“We had a lot of issues,” Gruden said. “We tried to bring in a lot of guys, and our success rate was pretty good once we got them in the building. You come in, you don’t get out,” Gruden said with a smile. “We’ve got magical powers of recruiting.”
The Raiders have signed a whopping 16 free agents this off-season and re-signed four of their own, for a total of twenty overall. That’s a lot more than GM Reggie McKenzie usually signs, and he was surprised to hear:
“Twenty? That many?” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said with a smile. “Ooh. That’s a lot.”
But as Gruden explains, that’s because one or two players weren’t going to fix this team and cap space matters:
“With free agency, sometimes you want to go after Door No. 1 but you don’t have the resources to do that,” Gruden said. “We didn’t feel like we needed to bring in three players. We felt like we needed to bring in a lot of guys; had a lot of needs.”
They did, and aren’t done addressing them yet. The draft is coming up in a couple of weeks, and there are still some decent free agents out there. Bowman remains unsigned, though Gruden has indicated while he wants him back it’s not imperative (I disagree).
Other Raiders news flowed out of the owner’s meetings, and it’s good news for the Vegas Raiders project. That’s because…
NFL Owners Approve Raiders Stadium Plan
The Raiders plans for a new stadium and accompanying facilities will cost over $2B, but a big part of the politics standing in front of those plans are now secure.
That’s because on March 27 at the NFL owners meetings, the NFL owners voted 31-1 to support the Raiders proposed $1.8B Las Vegas stadium bill. No word on which owner dissented.
Owner Mark Davis is excited but understands this is just the beginning in a long journey to move the Raiders eastward. Davis is excited that he is part of a project to bring a lot of opportunity to the area:
“It’s a big day,” owner Mark Davis said. “We’ve got a few more things to do … but it’s exciting again to see a public-private partnership that has just gone so well and so smoothly. You’ve got to give Gov. (Brian) Sandoval, (Clark County Commissioner) Steve Sisolak and even Tommy White with (Local) 872 so much credit for bringing this project together. The jobs they’re creating for Las Vegas and the benefits they’re bringing to that community, it’s just extraordinary.”
Raiders president Marc Badain is instrumental in the bid to bring the Raiders to Vegas and he sees the rapid progress as an impressive sign of the community, politicians and team working in solidarity to get this done:
“It’s pretty remarkable, isn’t it?” Badain said. “It says a lot about that community — it really does — what they’re capable of. The support that we, as an organization, have received from everybody there, from Sisolak on down. And everyone in the county, and everyone in the stadium authority board, and the governor and the Adelson family. Everyone that had a part in this. It’s amazing that it was a year ago we got approval. We got a big hole in the ground, the steel being ordered, the concrete being poured. The Preview Center opened. It’s happening fast. Imagine a year from now. Imagine 850 days from now.”
It’s still tough to imagine the existence of the Las Vegas Raiders, but with every passing week it seems more news is coming out that the project is full-go and progressing on schedule. You’ve got about 850 days to get used to the idea.
And that’s about it for another week of Raiders news. One surprising and potentially foolish cut, a lot of roster talk from Gruden and Vegas keeps making progress. Make sure you check out Only1Nation.com every day and follow @Only1Nation_ for all your Raiders news and analysis. Thanks for reading!