The Raiders made big changes to their offensive line this offseason and that took many people by surprise, but General Manager Mike Mayock said that they’ve been on his mind for a while.
Mayock said on The NFL Rhodes Show with Lindsay Rhodes that it is “inevitable” that players are going to decline and that he told head coach Jon Gruden when he was interviewing for the job that they would have to make changes to the interior of the line. Center Rodney Hudson and right guard Gabe Jackson were both traded away this offseason and the team also dealt right tackle Trent Brown.
First-round pick Alex Leatherwood is set to take over for Brown while Andre James is in line for the center job with a competition on tap for Jackson’s replacement. Those kinds of changes open the door for a step backward in production, but Mayock is confident that won’t be the case.
“I know a lot of people were like, ‘Wow, why’d they do that?'” Mayock said, via Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “But I don’t feel like we took a step back and we wouldn’t have made the moves if we felt that. . . . You can criticize all you want, and I’m talking about the world in general, but I can’t tell you how excited I am to watch our new group play next year. We’re committed to what we’re doing and we believe in them. We really believe we got younger, we got more athletic and we saved a bunch of money.”
The offensive line moves aren’t the first to draw criticism in the Gruden/Mayock era and they’ll have to work out better than many of their other maneuvers in order to create a rosier outlook for the team’s future under their stewardship.