Oakland Raiders: Del Rio Means What He Says, Deals LB Sio Moore


Apparently, Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio wasn’t kidding around when he said that only players who were contributing to the team would make the final roster. In a move that surprised many, Del Rio and the Raiders have traded linebacker – and emotional leader – Sio Moore to the Indianapolis Colts for a sixth round draft pick.

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It is perhaps, the first sour note that Del Rio has struck since arriving in Oakland as it is a move that likely will not be popular with fans.

For many, it’s a shocking end to Moore‘s promising career with the Raiders. He endeared himself to fans around the Raider Nation for his inspired, passionate play on a defensive squad that lacked not just those qualities, but reliable leadership over his first two seasons.

It was widely believed that along with budding stars like Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, Gabe Jackson, Justin Ellis, and of course, Khalil Mack, Moore was one of the young, foundation pieces the Raiders were rebuilding around. Which made his trade all the more shocking for many.

Del Rio said when he arrived though,that past accomplishments meant nothing, and it’s what you did in the present that mattered to him. Unfortunately for Moore, injuries proved to be his undoing. A hip injury that ended his 2014 season early – and required surgery in January – kept him out of offseason workouts and a large portion of the offseason. When he did return, Del Rio limited him to special teams play.

It wasn’t until late in Oakland’s final preseason game against the Seahawks that Moore finally got onto the field with the defense – and played just nine total snaps.

After the Seattle game, Del Rio was asked specifically about Moore’s lack of playing time and his reply perhaps foreshadowed the move that was about to come.

Moore’s slow recovery from injury and lack of time on the field seemed to only put him further and further in Del Rio’s doghouse. It also opened the door for player like Ray Ray Armstrong and Malcolm Smith – both of whom, have shined in Moore’s absence – to stake a claim to the starting spot.

Before the trade was announced, some were throwing out wild speculation about Moore’s future with the team, suggesting some sudden character issue. Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report, perhaps attempting to fill some article space or stir a little drama on a slow news day, cast aspersions on Moore by painting a very unlikely scenario.

"“Why’s that? Poor practice routine? Poor attitude? Locker room chemistry? We can only speculate, but Moore’s future in Oakland seems murky… This predicament seems illogical for a player who accumulated 7.5 sacks over the last two seasons, which indicates inner turmoil unknown to the general public.”"

The only thing it actually seems to indicate is that Moton has a very active imagination as this mysterious character issue he feels the need to raise the specter of is one that nobody has had a single hint of in Moore’s time with the Raiders.

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As tough of a pill as it is to swallow for Raiders fans, based on Del Rio’s comments that the players would get what they earned, the decision to jettison Moore was simply a football decision. Del Rio has stated repeatedly that only the guys on the field and producing would make the final roster.

Unfortunately for Moore, his health has prevented him from being on the field and producing. That, and not some mysterious and heretofore unheard of character issue or “inner turmoil” seems to be the most likely reason for Moore’s trade.

In Moore’s two seasons on the field for the Raiders, he started 22 games. He accumulated 138 tackles (105 solo) and seven and a half sacks. But he was best known for wearing his heart on his sleeve and for the reckless abandon he played with. His love and passion for the game is what won him plenty of fans – fans that are undoubtedly sad to see him go.

For his part, Moore is as broken up about leaving Oakland as his fans are to see him traded to the Colts. After learning of the deal, Moore Tweeted out his feelings.

It’s an unfortunate truth that the NFL is a production based business. And given his slow recovery from injury – as well as playing at a position with remarkable strength and depth this season – Moore, despite his immense talent, found himself to be expendable.

There is no doubt that the Raider Nation wishes Moore the best and much success with his new team – except perhaps, when Indianapolis plays the Raiders.

Next: Khalil Mack Is Becoming a Dominant Defender