Looking at the Oakland Raiders of the 2000s is a bit of a mixed bag. At the start of the millennium, they were Super Bowl contenders who had an offense that was feared around the league. After losing Super Bowl XXXVII, the Raiders couldn't find their way back to the top of mountain for more than a decade. Things only started to turn around for the franchise when they hired Reggie McKenzie and let him purge the roster of all the deadweight that they were carrying. Now, in 2016, the Oakland Raiders are legitimate Super Bowl contenders (yeah, you read that right) and once again have an offense that the entire NFL fears.
With all that in mind, we're going to be looking at the best and worst Oakland Raiders since the year 2000. Now, as you can imagine, most of the 'bests' come from the start of the millennium and the present, while most of the 'worsts' come from the period in-between, where the Raiders couldn't generate any momentum and were the laughing stock of the NFL. Now, for the 'worsts' in particular, we tried to avoid fourth and fifth stringers and decided to focus on players who were overpaid or who didn't live up to the hype.
So, without further ado, let's take a look at the last 16 years and the best/worst players to wear the Silver and Black.
15 Best: Tim Brown
Look, any list of the 'best' Raiders should include Tim Brown. Even if Tim Brown played a single snap in 2000, we likely would've included him on this list, as that's what he deserves for everything he contributed to the Silver and Black.
While Tim Brown's best NFL seasons took place in the 90s, he was still extremely productive in the early 2000s, even making a Pro Bowl appearance in 2001. What's interesting is that he arguably had a better year in 2000, where he finished with 1,128 yards and 11 touchdowns, as compared to 1,165 yards and nine touchdowns in 2001. He also was an integral part of the last Raiders' team to make a Super Bowl, which took place in 2002. Mr. Raider is one of the best wide receivers of all-time and a worthy opening entry for this list.
14 Worst: Aaron Brooks
Aaron Brooks was a solid player for the New Orleans Saints in the 2000s and even led them to a playoff appearance in the first year of the new millennium, winning a playoff game for the Saints along the way. Then, in 2005, he had a terrible year for New Orleans, going 3-10 with 13 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, leading to them cutting their long serving QB. The Raiders decided to pick up Brooks, who was still only 30 years old, figuring he could provide some QB competition for Andrew Walter (we'll get to him later) and Marques Tuiasosopo.
Well, they were wrong. Brooks started eight games that season, finishing with 0 wins and a TD to INT ratio of 3:8, which is obviously terrible. The Raiders cut him after that year and he never found work in the NFL again.
13 Best: Shane Lechler
It might not be exciting to see a punter on a list of terrific football players, but there's no denying the quality that Shane Lechler brought to the Raiders in the 2000s. Drafted in the fifth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, he spent his first 13 NFL seasons in Oakland, before they decided to let him walk to pursue a championship, which he still hasn't accomplished the Houston Texans.
During his time in Oakland, Lechler was widely considered to be the best punter in the league and his big leg helped some terrible Raiders stay in games, as the opposing team always had a much longer field to drive down. He made seven Pro Bowls and nine All-Pro teams (6 first teams and three second teams). Lechler was also a great example for Marquette King, who has since taken his job and become one of the top punters (and dancers) in the NFL.
12 Worst: DeAngelo Hall
While DeAngelo Hall isn't a terrible cornerback by any means, which his three Pro Bowl selections can attest to, there's no denying that he was an absolutely terrible Oakland Raider. After four solid years with the Atlanta Falcons, where he established himself as a premier playmaker in the NFL, DeAngelo Hall was then traded to Oakland and signed a huge deal worth $70 million over seven years, with $24.5 million of that guaranteed. Fans were hopeful that a cornerback tandem of Nnamdi Asomugha and Hall would make them impossible to pass against, but it wasn't meant to be.
In his first game as a Raider, he was torched by Eddie Royal and it became apparent that Hall wasn't a fit for the Raiders man-to-man defensive scheme. He was cut only eight games into the season and signed with Washington, where he continues to play today.
11 Best: Richard Seymour
Did the Raiders give up way too much to get an aging Richard Seymour (a first round pick)? Definitely. As a young, rebuilding team, the Raiders needed every pick they could get to try and build something for the future, like they've been doing over the last 3-4 years. However, that doesn't mean that Richard Seymour wasn't terrific as a member of the Silver and Black. He only spent four years in Oakland (2009-2012), but he was terrific in the middle of the Raiders' defensive line, pairing with Tommy Kelly to give the Raiders one of the better d-lines in the league.
He left the Raiders before they became good again, retiring from the NFL in 2012, but during his four year stint in Oakland, he made two Pro Bowls and gave them solid play at the DT position.
10 Worst: Javon Walker
Javon Walker epitomizes the depression that Al Davis was showing in his later years. Whenever free agency would come around, you could expect to see the Raiders in the rumor mill, as they were desperate to sign any player they felt could make a difference and bring Davis a final Super Bowl. In 2008, the Raiders signed Javon Walker to a six year, $55 million contract that had $16 million guaranteed. While Walker had proven he could be a capable receiver, having 1,000 yard seasons with both the Packers and Broncos, he had a terrible season before signing his massive contract, playing in eight games and amassing only 287 yards.
Obviously, things didn't pan out for Walker with the Raiders, as he lasted only two seasons in Oakland, where he managed 196 yards and one touchdown in 11 games. He'd never play in another NFL game.
9 Best: Nnamdi Asomugha
Between their Super Bowl appearance and their current resurgence, there weren't many players that Raiders fans could truly believe in. Except for Nnamdi Asomugha. Before there were the Richard Sherman vs. Darrelle Revis debates, there were Asomugha vs. Revis debates, and many fans were choosing Asomugha in that debate.
Unlike DeAngelo Hall, Asomugha was an exceptional man-to-man cover corner and was often left on an island to cover the other team's premier receiver by himself. Though the team never experienced success while he was with them, Asomugha was the only elite players for the Raiders between 2005-2010 and is warmly remember by Raiders fans for his efforts. He'd leave Oakland to play in Philly and San Francisco, though he couldn't maintain his stellar play and would sign a one-day contract to retire as a Raider in 2013.
8 Worst: Trent Richardson
It may seem harsh to say Trent Richardson is one of the worst Raiders of the new millennium, considering he never played a regular season game with the Raiders, but he was so terrible in pre-season action that we had to include him on this list. In 2015, the Raiders signed T-Rich to a $3.85 million contract over two years, with the hopes that he could push Latavius Murray and, at the minimum, be a decent secondary option behind Tay Train. Well, like we said, Richardson was horrific in the pre-season and became a viral hit due the picture above. While taking a handoff in the red zone against the Rams' second team defense, Richardson avoided a massive hole and ran straight into a huge crowd of players. Shortly after he was released and the nightmare was over for Raiders fans.
7 Best: Derek Carr
Derek Carr is the heart and soul of the current Oakland Raiders, who finally seem ready to compete for a Super Bowl. Selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, 14 picks after Johnny Football, Carr immediately won the starting job from Matt Flynn, as he showed signs that he could be the franchise QB that the team was dying to find. Since that time, all Carr has done is establish himself as one of the best young QBs in the league and a potentital MVP candidate for the 2016 season.
If you're wondering why the Raiders are relevant again, look no further than Derek Carr and the impact he's had on the team. Quarterback is the most important position in football and for the first time since Rich Gannon, the Raiders have an elite option at the position.
6 Worst: Andrew Walter
It feels natural to include Andrew Walter on this list after discussing Derek Carr, as he had the opposite effect after being drafted by the team in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Walter had the prototypical size of a quarterback, at 6'6" and 230 pounds, but didn't have any of the ability required to play the position.
Walter was with the team from 2005-2008 and never provided anything to the team. In nine games started, he had a terrible record of 2-7, while finishing with only 3 touchdowns and an alarming 16 interceptions. In fairness, Walter didn't always have a ton of talent around him, though he did get to throw Randy Moss for one year. After being released by the Raiders, he was signed by the Patriots before being quickly waived.
5 Best: Charles Woodson
At the start of this article, we said most of the 'best' players on this list either played for the Raiders are the start of the millennium or have played for them over the last two years. Charles Woodson is the only player on this list who was part of both good eras of Raiders football. Charles Woodson was the fourth overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft by the Raiders and played the first eight seasons of his career in Oakland, making four Pro Bowl teams. He then left for Green Bay, where he won a Super Bowl and made four more Pro Bowls, before returning to Oakland for the final three years of his career, where he made his final Pro Bowl. We could list more of his accolades, but we'd be here all day. If you don't know about the legend of Charles Woodson, go and watch highlight of him in his prime.
Whether he was a young, upcoming star or a legend that young players could look up to, Charles Woodson was terrific for the Silver and Black and is one of the best defensive backs to every play in the league.
4 Worst: Fabian Washington
After Rich Gannon and before Derek Carr, the Raiders were desperately looking for a franchise QB. At the 2005 NFL Draft, the Raiders had a chance to select a promising, young QB who was sliding down the draft board. However, instead of selecting Aaron Rodgers, they decided to select cornerback Fabian Washington 23rd overall. Washington had a terrific combine, which was always important to Al Davis, and the Raiders thought they could mold him into an elite cornerback. Instead, Washington never really made an impact with the Raiders, managing only three seasons with them before being cut and playing three more seasons with the Ravens, where he continued to be mediocre.
In the end, over three years with the Raiders, Washington managed five interceptions and 29 passes defended, which aren't first round worthy numbers. Meanwhile, that Aaron Rodgers guy, who went to the Packers with the next pick, has been pretty good.
3 Best: Rich Gannon
If Derek Carr is able to win an MVP award and lead the Raiders to a Super Bowl in the future, we'll gladly swap him with Rich Gannon on this list. However, until that happens, Rich Gannon is the best quarterback to play for the Oakland Raiders since 2000.
Gannon signed on with the Raiders in 1999 after an average NFL career at the age of 34. From there, he became one of the best QBs in the league, making four straight Pro Bowl appearances from 1999-2002 and winning the MVP award in 2002, the year he led to the Raiders to their only Super Bowl appearance in this millennium. In his MVP season, Gannon was incredible, throwing for 4,689 yards and 26 touchdowns. After that terrific season, Gannon dealt with serious neck injuries and he'd be forced to retire in 2004. However, when Gannon was good for the Raiders, he was really good.
2 Worst: JaMarcus Russell
If you've followed the Raiders at all since 2000, you had to have figured that JaMarcus Russell would be considered the worst player for the Raiders over that time period. Russell was the first overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft and expectations for him were sky high. While he's clearly one of the biggest draft busts of all-time, most scouts thought he was a can't miss prospect and one that could lead the Raiders back to prominence. Well, obviously, that didn't happen.
Russell was an absolute trainwreck for Oakland. He held out for a chunk of his rookie season and could never truly catch up. He also dealt with weight issues and many reported that he never put in the effort required to be a starting quarterback, let alone an elite one. He finished his NFL career in 2009 with 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. Not a single team opted to take a chance on Russell after he was released, which demonstrates how terrible he was during his time in Oakland.
1 Best: Khalil Mack
We could sum up our selection of Khalil Mack with a single statement: Khalil Mack is the only football player in history to be selected as an All-Pro at two defensive positions in the same year. That year was 2015 and Khalil Mack was beyond dominant for Oakland. He finished the year with 15 sacks and was the sixth ranked played in PFF's 2015 rankings.
Arguably, Khalil Mack has been even better in 2016 so far, already with nine sacks and with mumblings that he could be considered for Defensive Player of the Year if he maintains this insane pace. When people think of the revitalized Raiders, they immediately think of Derek Carr and Khalil Mack. While Carr has been great, Mack is the first bonafide the superstar the Raiders have had in years and has even been included in advertisements for Sunday Night Football. We can't remember the last time a Raider was included in those...
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