This week in Buy or Sell, we tackle the NFL’s biggest trade of the season so far, discuss whether a certain embattled ex-Spur can take his new team to the finals, and ponder whether a college quarterback who’s got NFL scouts salivating would really return to school for one more season.
RahimAli: The Amari Cooper Trade is Good for Both Teams Involved
Mickayeen: I’m gonna buy it’s good for the Oakland Raiders, but sell it for the Dallas Cowboys. As I talked about last week, Raiders’ head coach Jon Gruden is in the middle of a “grace period” of two years in Oakland, where he gets to just blow that franchise up and rebuild it the way he wants to. Now he’s gathering the ammo to do so.
The Raiders now have five first-round picks in the next two drafts. With all the stuff coming out about Derek Carr losing trust among his teammates, don’t be surprised if they try to get another first for him. Gruden’s plan is very clear—he knew that he wanted to rebuild and he’s doing it. How successful he is will, obviously, depend on the drafted players, but the Raiders have a clear direction. That’s better than being an in-between team hanging out between 7 and 9 wins a year and thinking you could be contenders every year, which is where they were heading with all the money they would’ve had to tie to Khalil Mack and Carr.
The Cowboys needed a receiver. The thing is, I think the Cowboys are that team who thinks they’re contenders, but aren’t. It would have been better for them to continue getting their young guys, like Michael Gallup, playing time and keep the draft pick. I don’t think teams should ever give up a first-round pick for a dependent position, especially for a guy who might not even be a top-10 receiver in the league. Bad move for the Cowboys.
Cullen: I’ll buy for Oakland and buy for Dallas. Oakland because now Gruden has at his disposal three 2019 first-round draft picks. If he plays his cards right, he could parlay that into some extra middle-round picks, as well as more future first-round picks. This is all very similar to how the Cowboys built their dynasty in the 90’s when coach Jimmy Johnson took QB Troy Aikman first overall in the 1989 NFL Draft. He also hit on most of his other high draft picks. Therein lies the rub for Oakland: Gruden is not good at drafting players. He can have all the damn picks he wants, but he needs to hit on them. However, the more picks you have, the better chance you have to hit.
For Dallas, I’ll buy because I’m not that big of a believer in Washington, despite their good start. The NFC East is still there for the taking. Cooper performed well earlier in his career, and Dallas is obviously hoping that productivity shows up again, and soon. He’s not a “franchise” wide receiver, or even a #1 wide receiver. A first-round pick was overpaying, but if quarterback Dak Prescott and Cooper quickly develop chemistry and the Cowboys offense takes flight, it will be worth it.
Mickayeen: A Healthy Kawhi Leonard Will Lead the Toronto Raptors to the NBA Finals
Cullen: I believe the Boston Celtics will win the Eastern Conference, so I’m selling on Leonard taking the Raptors to the NBA Finals. Overall, the Celtics roster is more talented and deeper, and they have one of the best coaches in the league in Brad Stevens. (He’s probably only behind Pop at this point, maybe Steve Kerr.) The pressure to win is so great in Toronto that they’ll eventually falter. I could see them getting to the Eastern Conference Finals, but against a Celtics team starring Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, they’ll lose.
RahimAli: It’s a hard buy for Kawhi taking Toronto to the finals. I believe the only person who actually picked that in our playoff predictions was Mickayeen, so it’s fitting he picked this question. Toronto is playing like we’ve never seen them play before. That’s because of the leadership Kawhi brings to the team. I love how he’s playing great and the team is winning with ease so far.
They have the more experienced players when it comes to winning big. The Boston Celtics might be everyone’s favorite, but they have a lot of second and third year players in the rotation and it might cost them in a playoff series against Toronto if that were to happen. I mean, let’s be honest, if the Celtics had to face Toronto in the playoffs last year without Irving and Hayward, I think they would’ve lost in six games. Toronto’s depth is just too good compared to who’s in the East.
I predicted the Milwaukee Bucks would beat the Raptors in 7 in the semi-finals of my predictions, but that was based on the attitude of Kawhi. He is currently happy with the situation he is in right now. So if Kawhi can keep this positive attitude, then there may be a slim chance to see Toronto in the finals. I still like the Bucks to sneak their way to the finals, but it will be tough to knock down the one-time Finals MVP.
Cullen: Oregon QB Justin Herbert Will Return to School for His Senior Season
RahimAli: I buy it! Oregon and Herbert feel like they have the best team in Pac-12 despite their two losses and probably chance at winning it this year. If you read my “College Football Games To Watch” article, I talk a little bit more about their chances of doing that. I mean, it’s smart to me because not only would he be returning, but his chances of being a franchise QB goes up.
Looking at the way this season is going, the New York Giants, Oakland Raiders and Arizona Cardinals are all 1-5 or worse going into week 8 of the NFL season. That makes them the first three teams in the draft if the season were to end today. I’m not sure Herbert would be the No. 1 overall pick unless a team like the Miami Dolphins or Jacksonville Jaguars decided to trade up and get him.
The Cardinals already drafted former PAC-12 QB Josh Rosen, so they have a potential franchise QB. The Raiders already have Derek Carr, but whether or not he stays a Raider is in the hands of head coach Jon Gruden, who has already traded two of the teams best players (DE/LB Khalil Mack and WR Amari Cooper).
The Giants may take a chance on Herbert, and honestly should, but with that offensive line, Herbert would be asked to do a lot. With RB Saquon Barkley and WR Odell Beckham Jr. already in place, the real question is how much longer are they willing to stick with current QB Eli Manning before moving on? Herbert’s decision to stay could change how it all plays out this year.
Mickayeen: If Herbert has the right people advising him and he wants to do what’s best for him and his future, I will sell him staying another year. Remember Jake Locker and how he was a slam-dunk number-one pick? And how he stayed and moved down seven spots?
Maybe you say that’s not a big deal. Well, it cost Locker a ton of money. Ten million dollars, to be specific.
Well, maybe he wouldn’t have had a great career in the NFL either way, but look at how long Sam Bradford has been riding that number one overall label!
I don’t know whether he’ll stay or not, but it’ll be smarter to enter the draft and make money, because the NCAA is not letting their players get paid any time soon. That’s a topic for another day though.
There you have it. Our writers are in agreement the Amari Cooper trade was good for the Raiders; we’re split on it regarding the Cowboys; we disagree on whether a seemingly happy (for now) Kawhi Leonard can lead the Raptors to their first ever NBA Finals; and we disagree on whether Justin Herbert will return for another go at it in college, or follow Steve Miller’s always solid advice: take the money and run.
What do you think?