Denver was the most active team as the NFL trade deadline approached this week. They acquired tight end Vernon Davis from the 49ers and tried to complete a trade with the Browns for offensive tackle Joe Thomas. Meanwhile, the Raiders were silent.
And that’s a really good thing.
Don’t get me wrong. This is far from a team that needs no upgrades. But they are most certainly not a team that is only a player or two away, as the Broncos believe they are.
The Raiders might be a player or two away from a playoff berth, but realistic hopes of a Super Bowl run would require more than just one guy. Additionally, acquiring a player who would have made a significant difference to the Raiders this season would have cost a significant price, likely in the form of draft picks.
The Raiders have made big strides this season and look like a team on the verge of being playoff caliber. Failing to add a player at the trade deadline may make it harder for the team to make the playoffs this season, but it will make it easier for them to build a team that will contend for the playoffs every year for a very long time.
The Raiders have done some building through free agency, but much of this young and talented team was added through the NFL Draft. After struggling a bit in his first two drafts as general manager, Reggie McKenzie appears to have struck gold two years in a row.
Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, Gabe Jackson, Justin Ellis, T.J. Carrie, Latavius Murray, Mario Edwards Jr., Amari Cooper and Clive Walford all look like key pieces to this Raiders rebuild and they were all selected by McKenzie. They aren’t all top-end draft picks, either. McKenzie has found success all over the draft, even in the seventh round with Carrie and undrafted free agents like with backup quarterback Matt McGloin.
Trading for a player could mean a short-term and expensive rental. Drafting a player can provide a relatively cheap and long-term answer to a problem. McKenzie could’ve gotten ahead of himself and tried to make a desperate move this season in order to get to the playoffs. Instead, he played it smart and steady, keeping his draft picks so he can continue to build this team the same way Green Bay — McKenzie’s former organization — prefers.