Did Mark Davis accidentally admit the Raiders are tanking? 'We’re doing a good job of getting ourselves a high pick'
Oakland has the worst record in the NFL after trading away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper
With just three weeks left in the NFL season, the Oakland Raiders have the worst record in football. Even after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in one of the season's most surprising upsets, the Raiders are still just 3-10, tied with the Cardinals and 49ers for the worst mark in the league. The Raiders have also been outscored by 144 points across their 13 games, the second-worst mark ahead of only the Cards (149).
But more than just the losing, the most notable thing that's gone on with the Raiders this season are the trades they made that helped elevate two other teams to probable division titles. Just before the start of the season, the Raiders traded star pass-rusher Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears. The Bears now have arguably the NFL's best defense, Mack is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and Chicago can wrap up a division title this week.
A few weeks into the season, with his team sitting at 1-5, Raiders coach Jon Gruden, and was just bad. "I'll say this, we aren't tanking anything," Gruden said at the time. "I hear the hatred out there, some of the rumors that we are tanking it to get a first-round pick or a higher pick. We are not getting up at 4 o'clock in the morning to tank it. Ain't nobody tanking it. I don't know who wrote that or who said that or who thinks that, but that isn't the case here. We are going to continue to work hard, continue to build our team and that was part of the message."
Just a few weeks later, the Raiders traded former No. 4 overall pick Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas was 3-4 at the time, with one of the NFL's worst offenses and wide receiver corps, and Cooper had been struggling for the better part of two years. All he's done since is help the Cowboys win five straight games while racking up 40 catches for 646 yards and six touchdowns.
Now, Raiders owner Mark Davis may have given the game away, "joking" about the Raiders having tanked to get where they are now. "But we're doing a good job of getting ourselves a high pick," Davis told NFL.com this week.
He also said, however, that he doesn't have any regrets over trading either Mack or Cooper. "Of course you watch it and everything but you don't have any control over what the other team is doing unless you play them," Davis said. "We're not playing the Bears and we're not playing the Cowboys."
That's an ... interesting way to look at things, to be sure. The Raiders will get three first-round picks out of this dreadful season, including one (their own) that is a near-guarantee to land among the top three. The others will presumably be in the 20s considering the success of the Bears and Cowboys, but three first-round selections are the kind of haul that can reinvigorate a franchise. You just have to get those picks right.
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