Insider ‘Tempted’ to Predict Raiders Pulling off Bombshell Trade

mike mayock jon gruden

Getty Las Vegas Raiders GM Mike Mayock with HC Jon Gruden.

Most teams have their rosters set this offseason but there’s one player available who could switch up a lot of plans. Julio Jones has made it clear that he won’t be returning to the Atlanta Falcons. There have been rumors for months that he’s going to get moved but nothing will happen until after June 1.

The Las Vegas Raiders invested heavily in wide receivers in last year’s draft but they still don’t have a true No. 1. That has led to the team getting linked to Jones on a number of occasions. With ESPN’s Dianna Russini reporting that the star wide receiver could get traded next week, many teams appear to be in the running.

Out of all the teams involved, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer believes the Raiders could be the favorite to pull off a deal.

“All things equal, I’m tempted to go with the Raiders here,” Breer wrote. “This is a big year for Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock, without question, and Jones could help unlock the potential in promising young receivers Henry Ruggs and Brian Edwards—and take pressure off emerging tight end Darren Waller. Add that to a rebuilt offensive line, Josh Jacobs and Derek Carr (who played better last year than people realize) and you’ve got something.”

It wouldn’t be the first time the Raiders made a trade for a superstar wide receiver. The Antonio Brown experiment didn’t work out for them but Jones is a much different player and should fit in well in the locker room should the deal happen.

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Money Could Be an Issue

While the Raiders would almost certainly love to have a player like Jones on the roster, trading for him wouldn’t be that easy. First, the team would have to offer up a premium draft pick. Since Jon Gruden took over the team, he hasn’t given up anything more than a third-round pick. He likes building through the draft and isn’t eager to give up his best picks.

Also, the Raiders don’t have a ton of cap space right now as Breer pointed out.

“The problem? One is the cap. The Raiders are just $5.7 million under and have spent much of their offseason trying to get their books in order,” Breer wrote. “Another could be cash—in a year when every team felt the crunch, it’s fair to ask what sort of cash budget Mayock and Gruden are working with, since having empty seats probably affected Vegas (going through a move, and had been waiting for a stadium windfall) more than most. So we’ll see on those guys.”

Raiders Can Make It Work if They Really Want Jones

If the Raiders truly want Jones, they’ll make it happen. Owner Mark Davis just recently bought the Las Vegas Aces of the WNBA so the idea that he doesn’t have any money is likely overblown. In terms of cap space, there are things the team could do to make Jones’ contract fit.

Las Vegas could easily add $3.5 million in cap space if they cut running back Jalen Richard. The Raiders could also extend Derek Carr’s contract and move some things around to give them more cap space for this season. Teams are always working cap magic to land elite players. If the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs can do it, the Raiders should be able to do it as well.

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