Should Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie target Browns CB Jason McCourty?

With the Oakland Raiders 2-4 start to the 2017 NFL regular season, a trade might not be realistic as the defense seems to lack talent on the field and from the coaching staff. So there might not be just one fix for this calendar year.

However, if there is one acquisition general Reggie McKenzie can make to help the secondary and to resurrect Oakland’s season, here it is.

The Cleveland Browns are still 0-6 and have shown interest in stockpiling draft selections. Browns cornerback Jason McCourty is having one of the best seasons of his NFL career, 92 Pro Football Focus player grade in 2017, but is 30 years old making it unlikely he is in Cleveland’s future plans.

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CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 08: Bilal Powell #29 of the New York Jets attempts to move past Jason McCourty #30 of the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

As such, the Raiders could go after McCourty and have a sure-fire No. 1 starting caliber cornerback for the first time since Nnamdi Asomugha left for the Philadelphia Eagles. Since McCourty is in his thirties, he wouldn’t be a long-term fix but would immediately improve the defense.

To convince McKenzie, McCourty would be due less than $1 million for the remainder of the season and would only have a cap hit of $3.625 million in 2018, via Spotrac.

It is hard to predict how much the Browns would want in return for McCourty, but a third-round pick and an extra late-round pick would seem reasonable. Unfortunately, McKenzie would be hesitant to part ways with a high selection.

Honestly, a second-round pick might even be worth it considering McKenzie’s selections of Jihad Ward, Shilique Calhoun, Menelik Watson, Sio Moore and Obi Melifonwu, who has yet to play a game. Aside from 2014, McKenzie’s second and third round selections have been sub-par.

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May 30, 2017; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie wears a hoddie and sunglasses at organized team activities at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In the last five drafts, McKenzie has only taken a starter in the third round twice, guard Gabe Jackson and defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes (and he’s up for debate). There is no guarantee that a future third round pick or even second would do anything for the organization immediately or down the line. Therefore, parting ways with a future draft pick for the opportunity to get a guy who can be a great starter for the next few seasons seems like a no-brainer.

Oakland has a ton of talent in place now, especially on the offensive side. But at a certain point everyone is going to have to be paid. Defensive end Khalil Mack, wide receiver Amari Cooper, safety Karl Joseph and defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. will all be getting new contracts in the coming years. As such, the window for the Raiders won’t be open forever. It is time, maybe not now but at least this offseason, to go all in on improving this defense.

Calling the Browns and enquiring about a trade for McCourty could be that answer in the secondary to help move the Oakland defense in the right direction.

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Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

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What to do with Raiders CB Sean Smith

Oakland Raiders cornerback Sean Smith has the fourth highest cap hit on the Raiders’ roster in 2017, yet he is obviously not the fourth best player on the team and comes nowhere close to cracking the top 10.

Smith’s $9.5 million cap hit, per Spotrac, lands him in dangerous waters. He is due No. 1 cornerback money, but will probably be the No. 3 or No. 4 cornerback on the team this fall. Moreover, Oakland ranked just No. 24 against the pass in 2016, so being third or fourth on the depth chart is nothing to get excited about.

The Raiders will be moving on from Smith at some point. Whether it is this year or next year, we do not know.

If Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie wants to see Smith in a new uniform in 2017, here are McKenzie’s options.

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Sep 25, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Oakland Raiders cornerback Sean Smith (21) celebrates after defeating the Tennessee Titans 17-10 at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Cut Raiders CB Sean Smith

Many of Raider Nation might clamor for Smith to be cut, however, that would make zero sense for the football team.

If McKenzie chooses to cut him, he would only save the franchise $250,000 since $9.25 million would still count against the cap as dead money, via Spotrac. Therefore, there is absolutely no benefit to seeing Smith cut this season.

Oakland would also not be able to find an equally talented replacement for $250,000. In addition, Smith has performed poorly, for his price tag, but is still a decent starting cornerback in the NFL as long as the team plays around his weaknesses.

If no cap space is to be gained from his departure, it is safe to say he will be on the roster come Week 1 of the NFL regular season unless McKenzie surprises the NFL by making a trade.

Lastly, the Raiders can cut Smith in 2018 without penalty since there would be no dead money by releasing him then.

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Photo via Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Trade Raiders CB Sean Smith

A trade scenario is extremely unlikely since McKenzie has never been eager to make trades and no team would want to take on Smith’s contract without getting something in return.

Regardless, here is a hypothetical trade scenario that would help out two teams and send Smith out of Oakland.

First and foremost, the Raiders must find a team that is not expecting to win this season and has cap space to spare.

Luckily, the three teams with the most cap space, the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars, are not expected to be a winning team in 2017.

Proposed trade: Raiders’ Sean Smith and 2018 6th round pick to San Francisco

Currently, the 49ers’ two starting cornerbacks, Dontae Johnson and Rashard Robinson, have Pro Football Focus player grades of 65.8 and 50.4 respectively.

If Smith came in, he would immediately become a starter Day 1 and could give valuable leadership to the young pieces in San Francisco. After Smith’s one year with the Niners, the organization could release him without any penalty and would have accrued an extra sixth round selection to help build the team for the future.

In regards to Oakland, McKenzie would be extremely hesitant to part ways with a sixth round draft pick, but he would save the team $5.25 million, via Spotrac.

With Carr and Jackson’s recent contracts and Mack’s future contract, $5.25 million could go a long way in helping keep the Raiders’ young core together. In essence, the $5.25 million could be more valuable than having one sixth round pick in 2018.

Maybe, that $5.25 million will help bring Raiders tackle Donald Penn to training camp.

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Photo via Getty Images

What McKenzie should do

Personally, parting ways with any assets is not the smartest move for the Raiders.

Oakland should keep Smith on the 53 man roster and cut him the following season. Then, they can have his services for 2017, not lose any draft picks and move on from him in 2018 when they can do so without hurting the team’s cap space.


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.