The Oakland Raiders have been a mess for a very long time.
They haven’t been to the playoffs since 2002 – when they had their last winning season – have churned through eight head coaches in that span and have gone 11-37 the past three seasons.
Yet now, under yet another new coaching regime, there might be a light at the end of that very long Oakland tunnel.
Adam Schein of NFL.com, recently writing about the most fascinating teams to watch this offseason, includes the Raiders under general manager Reggie McKenzie and new head coach Jack Del Rio.
Notes Schein: “With the right offseason, Oakland doesn’t have to be that bad this year. Seriously.”
It sounds strange, given all the problems the Raiders had last season when they finished 3-13. Yet Schein points to some of the new, young building blocks on the roster and the fact the Raiders have tremendous flexibility under the salary cap to make some moves in free agency.
“The Raiders need to land a big fish for promising young quarterback Derek Carr – someone like (Dez) Bryant, (Demaryius) Thomas or Randall Cobb,” he wrote. “Another consideration: How fantastic would Alabama product Amari Cooper look in silver and black? That would be a dream draft scenario.”
Certainly, Raiders owner Mark Davis is optimistic. After the hiring of Del Rio, Davis was bubbling, saying: “I have no doubt that he will make a significant impact and help reach the goal of everyone in this building, which is to win championships.”
Schein does note, however, that as successful as McKenzie has been the past two years in bringing in some nice talent through the draft, his record with free agency “is weak.”
So, the Raiders will need to use their money more wisely over the next few months if they hope to not only get better, but crawl over the Chargers, Chiefs and Broncos in the AFC West. It’s a big climb.
But, for the first time in a long time, people outside the organization are starting to believe that the Raiders might finally be on the right path.