A lot has been made of the way Jon Gruden is constructing his Oakland Raiders’ roster in his reincarnation as the team’s coach. Folks are joking about how Gruden is acting like it is still 1998 with his plodding offense.
There is no doubt Gruden is ‘old school’ and the ‘old’ should be emphasized. More than anything the first week of free agency has showed that Gruden still has an affinity for older players.
There is no doubt, Chucky loves his vets.
The last two players the Raiders have been connected to are defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who is visiting Oakland today, and wide receiver Eric Decker, who visited Tuesday. Both players are 31. They both are considered by many around the league on the back nine of their careers. That hasn’t detoured Gruden, who was famous for loving older players as the head coach in Oakland and Tampa Bay.
The Raiders’ big-ticket acquisition thus far is former Green Bay standout receiver Jordy Nelson. The Packers reportedly wanted him to take a massive pay check as Nelson prepares for his 33rd birthday in May.
Gruden gave him guaranteed money over two years and he is expected to start. That’s how Gruden rolls.
At running back, the Raiders are sticking with Marshawn Lynch as the starter. He was recently given a $1 million bonus, pretty much assuring he will stay with the team. He will turn 32 next month. Running backs who surpass the age of 30 are considered ancient. To his credit, though. Lynch stayed healthy in 2017 as he had 207 carries. Surely, Gruden will love if Lynch can duplicate his 2017 carry total.
One of Lynch’s backups is going to be newly signed Doug Martin. He is 29. At tight end, Gruden re-signed Lee Smith, who will turn 31 this year.
Defensively, the Raiders signed safety Marcus Gilchrist, who is expected to be starter and backup cornerback Shareece Wright. He will turn 31 next month and Gilchrist will turn 30 during the season.
This clearly seems like a trend Gruden will carry with him from his first go-round as a head coach. The Raiders’ overall roster is getting older – and Gruden likes it that way.