Oakland Raiders: No, the team won’t be in the Blake Bortles trade sweepstakes

BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 25: Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars warms up before the start of NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on November 25, 2018 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 25: Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars warms up before the start of NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on November 25, 2018 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Raiders, off to a 2-9 start on the year, are a very bad football team – but why on Earth would they actively make themselves worse?

When a team is as bad as the Oakland Raiders are – and they are really, really bad – you start to hear weird things being thrown around in various circles. One idea that was recently floated, would have to qualify as being up there with the weirdest of them.

And unless Jon Gruden and Reggie McKenzie are actively trying to make the franchise worse, it’s an idea that’s a complete non-starter.

An article that appeared today, suggested that the Raiders should be more aggressive in trying to stockpile draft picks – as if trading away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper wasn’t aggressive enough already in securing five first round-picks over the next two years.

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There’s a world of difference though, between being aggressive, and being stupid. And if this idea were even on the table in Raiders HQ, it would certainly fall into the latter category.

The idea being proposed is that since the Raiders are going to suck, they may as well go all in and suck for another couple of years, rather than lay a solid foundation. They key plank in that proposition being the team reaching out to the Jacksonville Jaguars to acquire the services of one – Blake Bortles.

Or at least, make a deal for him and absorb his salary the way Cleveland did with Brock Osweiler a couple of seasons ago, in exchange – a second round pick.

The  idea is predicated on Oakland’s need to pick up impact players to refurbish this dumpster fire of a roster and a pretty hefty amount of cap space, thanks to Gruden rearranging all of the deck chairs on this Titanic of a season.

As of now, OverTheCap.com is projecting the Raiders will have $77 million in available cap space to spend on next year’s free agents. But, you have to assume that Donald Penn won’t be back. You can also make a case that guys like Jordy Nelson (who hasn’t really factored into the passing game all that much), and Tahir Whitehead (who hasn’t performed exceptionally well) will all be gone next year as well.

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If you cross those three guys off next year’s roster – and you can probably go ahead and do that – Oakland’s cap number blossoms up to $95 million dollars. That’s a pretty tidy sum to spend on free agents.

And along with next year’s draft picks – three first-rounders among them – the Raiders have what they need to start building the roster back up and stocking with talent, hopefully minimizing the gaping holes McKenzie left in it while he was running amok and calling all the shots on his own.

The key is to actually hit on their draft picks, rather than add the dreck McKenzie has added over the last few years.

So, with potentially nearly $100 million dollars to spend on free agency, and five of the first 65 picks, – and probably six within the first 90 – the Raiders are well positioned to improve the club in a hurry.

Which, of course, begs the question – why in the world would they want to deal for Bortles?

Taking on his $21 million in 2019 salary – $16 million in dead cap money if they cut him – would only serve to chip away at their sizeable warchest. And for what? A second round pick? Why in the world would they cut that deeply into their cap space for a second round pick? Especially when they can use that same $16-21 million on one or two quality free agents that would firm up areas of actual need?

From the Jaguars standpoint, doing a deal like that makes absolutely perfect sense. What better way to get out from under a three-year, $54 million dollar mistake, than to shunt it off on somebody else?

After lavishing that contract on Bortles – a relative steal compared to the skyrocketing contracts for quarterbacks around the league – it seems like Jacksonville is having a bad case of buyer’s remorse, especially given the fact that they’re benching him in favor of Cody Kessler. Yeah, you’ve hit rock bottom when Cody Kessler is taking your job.

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It’s as if Jacksonville, after getting a taste of success last year, somehow forgot that Blake Bortles is – well – Blake Bortles. It seems as if they forgot they rode, not his arm, but the backs of one hellacious defensive unit to the AFC title game and within a hair’s breadth of the Super Bowl.

So, yeah, it makes perfect sense that Jacksonville would be completely amenable to the kind of idea being tossed about all willy-nilly. And, according to one writer, it makes sense for the Raiders too…

"A trade like this makes a lot of sense for the Raiders considering they know they aren’t trying to be a contender right away. Expect the Jaguars to seek out trade partners for Bortles this offseason and for the Raiders to be one of the teams mentioned in trade talks."

Except for the fact that it makes absolutely zero sense for the Raiders. None. Nada. Zilch. Zip. To give up that kind of cap space to a player they’d likely part ways with – when they could use that dead cap money on one or two quality free agents who actually would be contributing – all for the sake of scooping up another second around pick is beyond insane.

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And despite what one writer may believe, there is absolutely no reason to expect the Raiders to be one of the teams mentioned should the Jaguars dangle Bortles and a pick out there as trade bait for somebody willing to absorb their multi-million dollar case of buyer’s remorse. Nor is there any reason to believe there will be any other teams in the Bortles derby at all.

The goal is to tear down and build up into something successful – not tear down, and keep making ridiculous moves and continue sucking.

Gruden may be a little mad, a little crazy, he may do things that drive us fans up a wall, but one thing he’s not – is stupid.