What Did Free Agency Tell Us About Paul Guenther’s Status With the Raiders?

Happy Saturday from quarantine everyone!

How about a few thoughts on the Raiders to get your weekend started off right…

Paul Guenther hasn’t had a great run as Raiders defensive coordinator, but he also hasn’t been working with a lot of talent. Guenther was persuaded to join Jon Gruden in Oakland and Gruden promptly traded away the league’s best edge rusher.

Guenther gets a third year with the Raiders, but it’s noteworthy that so many of the team’s free agent signings (and targets like Byron Jones) have connections to new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. Interpret that how you want, but it sure seems like Marinelli’s voice is carrying a lot of weight around the building right now.

Speaking of the defense, the Raiders need more help in the secondary, especially after the Eli Apple deal fell apart this week. Cornerback was a top priority for the Raiders in free agency but they have yet to sign anyone at the position. Since organized offseason activities are probably not happening for any team, maybe the Raiders will sit back and see what better options they might find closer to the beginning of the season.

Whatever they do, the Raiders are basically at the mercy of the draft and/or whatever cornerbacks happen to be available in the months ahead. Not a great place to be when you look at the receivers in the AFC West.

Rex Ryan took criticism this week for putting Amari Cooper on blast and calling him a “turd” on national television. Ryan apologized for the “turd” comment, but what he said about Cooper’s game was spot on. Former teammates and coaches aren’t going to say it, but Cooper clocked out on the Raiders before his time and that was a big part of why Gruden traded him.

Without question, Amari is one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL, but to this point in his career the better cornerbacks have had a lot of success against him. Also, he still seems to check out of games mentally. That can’t be said of the elite receivers in the league.

A trade didn’t happen last year in the first round (even though the Raiders tried), but you have to think the Raiders would love to trade down from one of their first-round picks this year, too. If they want a trade to happen, it might take the no. 12 pick to get it done because the consensus seems to be that there will be similar value on draft boards from the middle of the first round through the second round – which is another reason the Raiders would love to somehow recoup a second-round pick.

To anyone with a little common sense, Josh Jacobs was the rookie of the year in 2019, but keep an eye on running backs in the draft. After wide receiver, running back might very well be the next offensive position drafted by the Raiders. Gruden would like to take a bit of the load away from Jacobs and keep him fresh for a full season. Also, that rookie might be asked to carry the load if Jacobs gets hurt again – so a day one or two RB pick might make sense.

Jason Witten is still the most perplexing signing of the Raiders offseason. The only theory that makes sense is that Gruden wants his young tight ends to learn from a legend. Gruden has huge plans for Darren Waller and Foster Moreau, but few have played the tight end position more technically sound than Witten. If Waller and Moreau can maximize their abilities maybe that alone will be worth the $3.5 million guaranteed deal the team gave to Witten.

Also, expect even more three tight end sets from Gruden in 2020… and Waller to move all over the field.

Also, we haven’t ruled out Gruden taking two receivers in the draft, have we?

Now that there will be no official draft room (because of COVID-19), Gruden might be able to draft his two stud receivers without having to look anyone in the eyes.

Just kidding… kind of.

twitter: @raidersbeat