Owner Mark Davis took responsibility for the Oakland Raiders hitting eight losses with seven games to play in 2018.
“Where this team is right now is my fault. We haven’t been able to build a 22-man roster,” Davis said in an interview with ESPN, referring to the starting lineups on offense and defense. “We haven’t been able to give this team a chance to win because the reconstruction failed. We failed from 2014 on to have a roster right now.”
Embattled coach Jon Gruden has taken heat for the Raiders winning only one game this season, his first in a 10-year, $100 million contract that lured him back to the Raiders’ sideline from the broadcast booth.
Davis defended the decision to deal linebacker Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears. He said the Raiders presented Mack and agent Joel Segal with a contract offer in June 2017 that would have made him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player. When Mack turned it down, the Raiders felt a long-term deal was not within their reach.
“My thought was, ‘Listen, he signed a five-year contract, if he’s the type of guy that I think he is, he’s going to honor that contract,’” Davis recalled. “And he’s going to come in and play for the $13 million for this year and then we’ll work for him during the year and get it. Word came back through certain players that know him and talk to him and know me as well, that he wasn’t going to come in. He was going to do the Le’Veon Bell (holdout). At that point, I said, ‘F it. The guy hasn’t talked to anybody. We’ve got to do something.’”
That trade opened the door for additional discord in the locker room.
Mack and wide receiver Amari Cooper share an agent, and the former first-round pick was on the way to the same situation that led to the Mack stalemate: the final year of his rookie deal with a desire for a massive extension. The Raiders traded Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys last month for a 2019 first-round pick.
“It might not have been the right decision, but the other point to this whole thing is that Segal is also the agent for Amari Cooper,” Davis said. “And we knew the same situation was coming up the next year. It wasn’t just one layer of chess; it was two layers of chess. But to blame Jon, for Khalil Mack not being here, is absolutely not the truth. It was a decision that was made and it wasn’t made easily ... I don’t have any bad feelings toward (Mack). I wish he would have talked to Jon and (GM) Reggie (McKenzie) and wanted to at least honor the fifth year of his contract.”
Davis said he plans to sit down with McKenzie and discuss the best way to move forward.
He also said Gruden has the keys to the castle.
“I know how hard Jon Gruden works. I know how much he wants to win. And how much days like (Sunday) are killing him,” Davis said. “Having Jon Gruden here was the endgame for me. Jon’s going to be the stability here. Jon’s going nowhere. That’s just the way it is.”
—Field Level Media