The Oakland Raiders head into the 2015 NFL Draft with their potential franchise quarterback in place in the form of Derek Carr, a solid new head coach in Jack Del Rio, and a good deal of momentum carrying forward from last year’s modest late turnaround after a calamitous start. But at the same time the Raiders are trying to explain the signing of bust Trent Richardson and hearing the name JaMarcus Russell being dropped in the media. So can Oakland manage to live down its own history of ambitious mistakes?
The signing of Trent Richardson appears to be a simple flyer on a talented player who didn’t cost much and may yet turn around his twice-failed NFL career. He’s the exception rather than the rule these days for the Oakland Raiders, who were once known as the black hole in which fading careers went to die as the team spent its salary cap on veteran players no one else wanted anymore.
But the mere mention of JaMarcus Russell stings a bit more. The Raiders thought they had their franchise QB but he turned into one of the biggest busts in NFL history – and now one league insider is suggesting Jameis Winston may not succeed because he has similarities to Russell. That comparison doesn’t seem valid, but it’s yet another opportunity for Oakland Raiders fans to be reminded of what could have been. Still, with Derek Carr now in place at quarterback, the team has an opportunity to build a young nucleus around him and move forward – if it can get past the ghosts of its own failed recent past.