Hindsight is a beautiful thing. It can make people smarter, more appreciated and completely alter the perception of reality when it comes to decision-making. Making decisions in the NFL is always very difficult because of the potential long-term ramifications that can accompany the seemingly minor choices that each person makes. For Oakland Raiders‘ fans, hindsight is in full affect as they come to the end of a very disappointing season. The Raiders currently stand at 4-11 and have to play the San Diego Chargers in a game that only affects their draft position.
The Raiders hired Dennis Allen in the off-season prior to this year, but never really gave him a chance of competing as a rookie head coach because of their awful cap situation. Whether it was a good decision to hire Allen or not remains unclear, but the decision to invest in aging starters has already proven to be a poor choice. The Raiders have made two notable trades in recent times, acquiring the New England Patriots‘ Richard Seymour and Cincinnati Bengals‘ Carson Palmer. Both players improved the team in the short-term, but offered next to nothing as long-term options. Now, having moved on from the seasons those players were acquired, the Raiders are in the long-term.
Seymour is unlikely to return next season, while Palmer will miss the Raiders’ final game of the season through injury. Palmer in particular has played well this season, but the Raiders may be anxious to move onto a younger prospect who they can build around for the future. The veteran quarterback was brought in to help the team after Jason Campbell was injured amidst a strong playoff push. The Raiders never made the playoffs, but still owed the Bengals a first round pick and what ultimately will become a second round pick. Add that to the first round pick sent to New England for Seymour and the Raiders significantly hurt their long-term outlook for a short-term failure.
Instead of acquiring Palmer and Seymour to likely see them leave soon after, the Raiders could have added multiple young stars to help them build their roster. This is where hindsight comes in and compounds what many initially penned as poor decisions by the franchise.
With the 17th overall selection in the 2011 NFL draft, the Patriots took their current starting left tackle, Nate Solder. That was the pick that the Raiders gave to the Patriots for Seymour. If you accept that Seymour improved the Raiders during that time, then you must presume that they would have picked somewhere between pick 10-17 that year. If they had kept that pick and Seymour’s overall influence was worth enough wins to move them below the 11th pick, the Raiders missed the opportunity to add JJ Watt to the roster. Even if they picked 17th overall however, they still missed on the opportunity to add either Corey Liuget, Phil Taylor or Muhammed Wilkerson who all could play Seymour’s position. Draft picks are uncertain by their nature. You’re not sure where you will pick when you trade them, nor are you sure if the player you pick will develop the way they need to. Clearly, the Raiders would prefer to have any of Watt, Liuget, Taylor or Wilkerson over Seymour however.
Having traded Palmer, the Bengals added cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick with the 17th overall pick that originally belonged to the Raiders in the 2012 NFL draft. Just like with Seymour, you have to presume that Palmer’s impact raised the spot where the Raiders would have picked. Palmer started nine games and won four of them. Without those four wins, the Raiders would have picked in the top 5, giving them the opportunity to draft a player such as Morris Claiborne, Mark Barron, Ryan Tannehill, Stephon Gilmore, Luke Kuechly, Fletcher Cox or potentially trade up for Robert Griffin III. Any of those players would improve the Raiders’ roster dramatically at this point and that is without taking into account the second round pick that the Bengals will get in this year’s draft.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but hindsight is a weapon that can be used to condemn those who make small mistakes. The Raiders would never have traded for Palmer or Seymour if they knew that they would have potentially had a chance to take Griffin III and understood how good of a player he would be at the professional level. The value of draft picks fluctuates from season to season, team to team and situation to situation. It was easy to see at the time that the Raiders’ moves were poorly thought through, but hindsight really exposes just how significant those moves have proven to be for the team’s long-term outlook.