Oakland Raiders: Sudden flurry of roster moves leave one man smiling

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 30: Ryan Switzer #10 of the Dallas Cowboys runs for a 83-yard touchdown punt return against the Washington Redskins in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium on November 30, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 30: Ryan Switzer #10 of the Dallas Cowboys runs for a 83-yard touchdown punt return against the Washington Redskins in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium on November 30, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Raiders made a flurry of roster moves on Monday – moves that have very likely left one player smiling and breathing a sigh of relief.

Like a kid with a new toy on Christmas, Oakland Raiders HC Jon Gruden is apparently going to keep tinkering and tinkering with his roster. And why not? It’s been a decade since he last roamed an NFL sideline, so let him play with his shiny new toys for a minute.

Gruden, in full tinker mode, pulled the trigger on a number of different additions and subtractions to the roster.

One transaction in that flurry of moves will allow everybody in the Raider Nation to breathe a little easier now, knowing that tackle Breno Giacomini was released, and won’t be responsible for trying to protect quarterback Derek Carr in any capacity – the operative word being, “trying.”

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To add a little more depth and competition to a continually evolving cornerbacks group, Gruden brought in Jarell Carter. If you haven’t heard of Jarell Carter, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Carter played college ball at Trinity International University, where he notched 156 tackles, and had 28 passesed defensed to go along with 30 interceptions in his collegiate career. He went undrafted last year, but spent the year on Arizona, and then Tennessee’s practice squad. When the Titans released him, the Raiders were there to scoop him up.

Don’t get used to hearing his name though. Odds are, he’s a camp body who’s going to get some snaps in the team’s final preseason tune-up game, before perhaps landing on the team’s practice squad, if he’s not released outright.

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The more interesting moves though, perhaps somewhat clarified the position group that seemed the most impacted and opaque this offseason – the wide receivers group.

It seemed like the Raiders had a thousand bodies vying for just a couple of spots – two, maybe three tops. That logjam of bodies got a lot lighter after a couple of moves on Monday.

First, the Raiders shipped early offseason camp darling Ryan Switzer (and a sixth-round pick in next year’s draft), for a fifth-round pick in 2019. Seems like Pittsburgh got the better end of that deal, but given that Gruden was probably going to wind up cutting Switzer anyway, any return is apparently, a good return.

The second move was placing Griff Whalen – the man who’d apparently played well enough to make Switzer expendable to begin with – on injured reserve with turf toe. Which means that Whalen will likely come to an injury settlement with the team, and look for work elsewhere.

As the transaction wire was humming, you know there was one man smiling a little bit wider today – Seth Roberts.

Roberts, if you recall, was very publicly on the trade block during the Draft. A deal for Roberts never materialized, so he ended up in camp with the team. Since then, he’s missed time – much to Gruden’s chagrin.

But, he’s very much been on the roster bubble, with most people believing that despite signing an extension last season – and incurring a decent chunk of dead money this year – Gruden would opt to move on from the fifth-year pro.

But, Switzer and Whalen were his primary competition for the job in the slot, and in fact, he’d been well behind them on the depth chart – which dramatically improves his chances of being on the 53-man roster when the season begins.

Though – it’s not yet a lock. Of course.

With Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, and Martavis Bryant all but assured to occupy the top three spots on the depth chart, Roberts will still have to battle it out with Johnny Holton, Keon Hatcher Saeed Blacknall, Isaac Whitney, and Marcell Ateman.

But, given that none of those guys are the prototypical slot receiver, and are mostly bigger bodied guys with a lot of length, and similar skill sets, it stands to reason that Roberts may indeed have the inside track on one of the two, or maybe three roster spots Gruden will devote to wide receivers.

To earn one of those precious few slots on the roster though, Roberts is going to have to prove to Gruden that he can not only stay healthy and on the field, but that he can be productive and reliable – and that he can stop dropping passes.

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But, at least for a day, Roberts can breathe a little bit easier, knowing that Switzer and Whalen are no longer breathing down his neck.

Now, it’s up to him to take advantage of the opportunity he has in front of him, or he very well may find himself banished to the Island of Misfit Toys on cutdown day.