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According to Vic Tafur of The Athletic, multiple players have questioned Gruden’s “accountability” following the trades of Cooper and pass-rusher Khalil Mack and how they were handled within the organization.
“When what you say and what you do are two different things, there is a problem,” one player said. “We all have to believe in each other and pull in one direction.”
Tafur noted players were upset to learn of the Cooper trade through updates on their phones since Gruden talked to ESPN about the deal before addressing the team.
“The Mack trade was a real stiff jab,” another player said. “But the Cooper one was like a knockout punch, especially because we had just walked back in the door from the bye. We didn’t want to believe it was coming, and Coach said we weren’t going to trade him.”
While Oakland is 1-5 and well on its way to a second straight playoff-less season, there is reason for optimism regarding the future. Moving Mack, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2020 conditional fifth-round pick to the Chicago Bears netted the Raiders a 2019 first-round pick, 2020 first-round pick, 2020 third-round pick and 2019 sixth-round pick.
Those, along with their own first-round pick and the one they received for Cooper, have them well-positioned to restock.
Playing for the future is an option for Gruden since he signed a 10-year deal with the team, but another player told Tafur, “You have to wonder if we haven’t been playing for draft picks all along. Despite everything the coaches told us at training camp.”
The Raiders are coming off a 16-point loss to the Los Angeles Chargers and 24-point loss to the Seattle Seahawks and still face AFC playoff contenders in the Kansas City Chiefs (twice), Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, Chargers and Denver Broncos.
Draft picks may be all they are playing for soon, although Gruden told Chris Mortensen of ESPN, “We’re not trading anyone else.”
It doesn’t seem like all of his players believe the sentiment.