There is an understandable fascination right now about Head Coach Jon Gruden’s return to those ranks after spending so many years working in the media. After beating his own Oakland Raiders in the Super Bowl with what was still effectively Tony Dungy’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gruden’s coaching career never reached that level again, but he’s been one of the most prominent names in football since then.
Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers are also particularly interested in watching the Raiders this year after Gruden’s team traded a third-round draft choice in the 2018 NFL Draft to acquire wide receiver Martavis Bryant, a move that didn’t seem like it was going to happen, of course, until it actually did.
Bryant isn’t the only former Steeler on his roster though. I don’t want to use the term ‘cast-off’ for him because it doesn’t accurately reflect his time with the team, even if it was tumultuous. But Oakland does have two other former Pittsburgh players from the secondary who can fairly be described that way.
Both of them were added during Gruden’s tenure. Signing 2014 fifth-round cornerback Shaquille Richardson to a Reserve/Future contract is actually one of the first things he did after taking over, on his third day of the job.
Another, even more prominent, former Steelers cornerback was an addition to the Raiders’ roster just over a month ago when they signed 2015 second-round pick Senquez Golson. The Ole Miss ballhawk tried and failed for three seasons to stay healthy enough to play in even a preseason game, but it never happened.
It’s a virtual certainty that Bryant is going to be on Oakland’s roster this year, and possibly even starting. While they have Amari Cooper as one starter and brought in Jordy Nelson via free agency, the opportunity is there to claim a starting spot without a doubt, and the Raiders are clearly very intrigued by the possibility of ‘unlocking his potential’.
For Richardson or Golson to do the same would be a surprise, of course, and even making the roster will prove to be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Golson has essentially been out of football for three years now, so that is going to be a major obstacle, but we’ll see how things play out. I think there are more than a few people interested to see if he can resurrect his career in any capacity.
As for Richardson, he has never been on a 53-man roster. He spent time on Pittsburgh’s practice squad during his rookie year, then was signed and cut by both the Chiefs and the Cardinals during the 2015 offseason before spending some time on the Titans’ practice squad.
He was then signed actually to a two-year contract for the minimum value by the Panthers in 2016 in May, but was released less than two months later. He had not been on an NFL roster since, but he did play in the CFL. He had four interceptions, a forced fumble, a sack, and 48 tackles for the Calgary Stampeders in 2017.