The Oakland Raiders have begun their training camp and now we can finally start to see the beginnings of what this team is going to look like under Jon Gruden. And while it’s still very early and we have to be careful about not taking too much away from these practices, we have the early signs of a move that many expected and could end up being the fruits of the most underrated move of the Raiders offseason.
What move am I talking about? The trade of Jihad Ward for Ryan Switzer.
Again, it’s early, but the Raiders have had Switzer lining up as the starting slot receiver during the first weekend of training camp. That could be a sign that they just want to get a good long look at Switzer early on in the process or it could mean that he’s currently the favorite for the slot receiver role this season.
Even if Switzer doesn’t end up being the starting slot receiver, he’s sure looking like a guy who will get some playing time this season. And if that’s all the Raiders get out of him on offense, then the trade still might be the most underrated move of the offseason.
Jihad Ward was a guy who was headed out of town in a hurry regardless of whether or not a trade for his services surfaced. To say Ward had an underwhelming first two seasons in Oakland would be an understatement of massive proportions. The second rounder was supposed to help create pressure from the defensive tackle position to help edge rushers Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack feed on the outside. Instead, he turned out to be a below average backup with attitude problems.
Had Ward not been traded, he would have been cut. Instead, the Raiders were able to use Ward to grab a guy who they hope will compete for the slot receiver role while also providing value as a special teamer. And worse case scenario, which seems highly unlikely at this point, if Switzer doesn’t make the roster, the Raiders don’t lose anything since they were likely to cut Ward anyway.
Clearly, the undersized receiver who wasn’t able to earn much playing time in Dallas still has a long way to go before he even makes the roster, let alone earns playing time. But the early signs are positive for Switzer and his main competition, Seth Roberts, has already gotten back to his ball dropping ways early in training camp.
Only time will tell for sure, but as of now, the Switzer trade seems to be the most underrated move for a Raiders team that seemed to make five years of roster moves in one offseason.
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