The Oakland Raiders were obviously heading in a different direction with the GM position after this season, as CBS Sports NFL Insider was coming after the year. But the team decided to make a move earlier than expected and fired current GM Reggie McKenzie.
A divorce was inevitable given the power structure in Oakland: Jon Gruden signed a 10-year, $100 million contract to coach the team last year and no one signs that kind of deal without the ultimate authority on running the roster.; it was only a matter of when it happened.
What seemed obvious became very clear over the last few months, with Gruden trading away most of the top players he selected in the draft. Khalil Mack -- a potential Defensive Player of the Year winner -- was sent to the Bears for and Amari Cooper -- -- was sent to the Cowboys for .
There was never any chance of McKenzie sticking around after this year and watching Gruden rip apart the roster he constructed. The only question was whether or not he'd last through this year. Per Ian Rapoport/Tom Pelissero, McKenzie was given the opportunity to stay on with the Raiders and see out the 2018 season but ultimately declined that chance after being told he was being fired.
McKenzie was hired in 2012 amid a disastrous period of football in the Raiders history. He nailed several drafts, including adding Mack and Carr in the first two rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft and then picking up Cooper with a first-round pick in 2015. It looked like he had built a nucleus set to win for a while, and the Raiders surged to a 12-win season in 2016.
The team fell back to earth in 2017 and Jack Del Rio was fired immediately after the season, with owner Mark Davis pursuing Gruden in one of the splashiest and most expensive hires you'll ever see.
A potential bounce-back with Gruden seemed unlikely, but the results have been much worse than anyone expected: the Raiders won their third game of the season on Sunday over the Steelers. They've been eliminated from the postseason for a while now and have largely looked like a team devoid of talent.
It's clear they're playing for Las Vegas and approaching this with a long-term plan in mind. And it's very clear McKenzie was not part of that plan.