Between the signings of older veterans like Jordy Nelson and Doug Martin and the trades for Martavis Bryant and AJ McCarron, Jon Gruden’s first offseason back in charge of the Raiders was a clear and utter disaster that was easy to identify as it unfolded. Though the Raiders will likely never admit that they erred in so many of their acquisitions a year ago, their actions this offseason indicate they understand that mistakes were made.

On Thursday, the Raiders released both Nelson and McCarron after one season. 

The Raiders signed Nelson to a two-year deal after the Packers cut him even though there were concerns about his explosiveness. He ended up catching 63 passes for 739 yards and three touchdowns, which isn’t a terrible stat line for a 33-year-old receiver, but it wasn’t enough to turn the Raiders into a competitive team. 

Given his age and decline in production, it was always likely that the Raiders would try to upgrade at receiver in the offseason, which is what they did when they traded for Antonio Brown and signed Tyrell Williams in free agency. What’s confusing is that not only did Gruden say in December that Nelson would be back, the Raiders also gave him a $3.6 million bonus at the time. 

As for McCarron, he departs Oakland after attempting three passes. In September, the Raiders gave up a fifth-round pick for the backup quarterback, who sat behind Andy Dalton for four seasons in Cincinnati and failed to beat out Nathan Peterman in the Bills‘ quarterback competition last season. Speaking of Peterman, who signed with the Raiders in Decemberhe’s now their No. 2 quarterback. A fifth-round pick isn’t significant, but that doesn’t make it wise to throw away a fifth-round pick for a backup-caliber quarterback, especially after the team already threw away a third-round pick for Bryant, who has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL. Bryant caught 19 passes for 266 yards with the Raiders.

Despite their awful 2018 offseason, the Raiders are in a position to rectify their mistakes. After dealing away Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack, the Raiders own three first-round picks. They traded for Brown and signed Williams to provide Derek Carr with upgrades at receiver. They signed offensive tackle Trent Brown to help protect Carr, a quarterback who struggles mightily under pressure. They landed safety Lamarcus Joyner to shore up the back-end of their defense. 

Plenty of work remains. We can’t fully grade the moves they’ve made this week until years down the line. But so far, they’ve made more promising moves than the ones they made a year ago. That might not be saying much, but it’s still progress.

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