Following the disastrous six-game skid that ended the 2013 campaign, the Oakland Raiders rolled into the offseason with nothing but questions surrounding their offensive unit – a unit that was at or near the bottom of the league in most significant statistical categories. But with free agent acquisitions like Matt Schaub, James Jones, Maurice Jones-Drew, Donald Penn and Austin Howard among others, many of those questions have seemingly been answered — or at least kicked down the road for a while. In truth, the Raiders’ offensive unit – at least on paper – is miles ahead of last season’s group. Despite the improvements, however, some questions still remain. And one of the biggest surrounds WR Denarius Moore and his status with the team.
Entering the final year of his rookie deal, Moore is coming off a season that saw him snag 46 balls for 695 yards and five touchdowns. Not terrible numbers to be sure, but Moore struggled greatly with consistency and saw his number of targets diminish, as well as his time on the field. For all of his speed, talent and explosive potential, Moore has had a difficult time holding on to the ball. That bad habit has seen him fall out of favor with head coach Dennis Allen and the Raiders’ coaching staff.
One of the priorities for GM Reggie McKenzie this offseason has been to improve a woefully ineffective and anemic offense. More specifically, trying to find some solutions to the problems the Raiders have had with their wide receiving corps. Rod Streater began to emerge last season as the legitimate No. 1 receiving threat the Raiders have lacked for so long, and he figures – along with Jones – to see the bulk of the targets in the passing game.
Beyond those two, however, there is a real drop in consistency as young receivers Andre Holmes, Juron Criner, Brice Butler and Moore all have tremendous potential but have all had issues in the dropped passes department. Knowing that he would have to put on a show and demonstrate for the coaches this offseason that he can be consistent in order to remain on the roster ahead of Holmes, Criner, Butler and new acquisition Greg Little, Moore has thus far not impressed during the team’s OTAs – with several reports indicating he’s had a number of really bad drops. In fact, of the motley group of wideouts Oakland has assembled, only Criner has stood out to the coaches, and looks to be in a prime spot to remain on the roster.
Raiders beat writer Vic Tafur asked Allen about his frustration with Moore’s inconsistency. In a Tweet from today, Tafur quoted Allen as saying, “We’re still working through it,” and that Moore is “making some strides.”
Which doesn’t exactly sound like a ringing endorsement from Oakland’s head coach.
Given the emergence of Streater, the addition of Jones, his continued inconsistency in OTAs – as well as the positive impression Criner is leaving on the coaching staff – Moore very well may be playing himself right out of Oakland, if he hasn’t already.
The fact that he’s in the final year of his deal, is still young at just 25 years old and has some explosive potential, it’s very possible, likely even, that McKenzie and the Raiders may be looking to move Moore with the hope of getting something in return for him. But if a market does not develop for the receiver – and given his history of dropped balls, it very well may not – the Raiders may be content to play out the string and plug him into the receiving rotation on an as-needed basis
It seems a really sad commentary on your career, though, when notorious pass dropper Greg Little is a more viable solution in your passing attack. Whether it be through a trade this year or letting him walk when his contract expires at the end of the season, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that Moore will be wearing the Silver & Black next season.