We’re still waiting to hear what Jon Gruden plans to do regarding the Oakland Raiders head-coaching job, but regardless of that outcome there will be major changes to the roster. Gruden’s arrival certainly would have an effect on the front office as well, so none of this is set in stone. But we expect the Raiders to do a lot of skin-shedding in the offseason with their personnel.
Marshawn Lynch’s future clearly is in doubt. Michael Crabtree could be let go. So could NaVorro Bowman, David Amerson, Reggie Nelson and Sean Smith, among others. Some young players, such as Jihad Ward and Shilique Calhoun, are likely to return but must show far more.
Speaking with a Raiders team source — who isn’t sure if he’ll be retained — it’s clear that some people in the building believe there needs to be some notable roster overhaul no matter who is coach.
Things started falling apart in the team’s locker room early on, and swelled from there. Bruce Irvin was productive and respected, earning the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nomination, but it was viewed as a harmful precedent when he lashed out on Twitter following the firing of defensive coordinator Ken Norton.
The team thought it was self-sustaining enough after the 12-4 season to add a player such as Lynch, but when he moved to the beat of his own drummer, it tended to undermine Jack Del Rio and his staff, even if that wasn’t Lynch’s intention. Throw in transgressions by Crabtree, who was suspended, and Ward, who made comments against the staff on Twitter, and there was a caustic environment in Oakland that led to Del Rio’s firing despite a winning record over three seasons.
Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper and other building blocks are there to stay, and the hope is that Gruden can — again, if he chooses the job — maximize their full potential. But the job of the next personnel boss, whether it’s current GM Reggie McKenzie or someone else, will be to weed out some personalities from a locker room that grew a bit wild by season’s end, we hear.
Gruden never minded having strong personalities on his Oakland and Tampa Bay Buccaneers teams of yore, and he won’t be recommending full-scale deck swabbing, we’d imagine. But there will be personnel changes of some note with personality and character fit in mind, we strongly believe.