Since 2019, Mike Mayock has been the general manager of the Oakland and now Las Vegas Raiders, but that time is coming to an end. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday night that the team is moving on from Mayock, and they confirmed that with a statement. That’s not surprising considering that there had previously been reports of the team looking to interview GM candidates (as well as head coach candidates, although Rich Bisaccia is still there as interim head coach for now), but it’s definitely notable that Mayock (seen above in 2019 at a Raiders’ practice) is out. And while he absolutely could wind up with another NFL team, perhaps especially in an assistant GM or director of scouting role rather than as a full GM, he also might return to sports media.
Most of Mayock’s time in professional football has been in a media role. His professional playing career was brief, featuring time with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts in 1981 and then time with the New York Giants in 1982 and 1983. And he went into commercial real estate for 18 years after that. But the last three decades have seen him in a variety of media roles, starting with college football for Prime Network, NCAA Productions, Prime Sports Radio and the Big East Conference, then the CFL for ESPN, then the SEC for CBS, then college football for Fox and ABC, and then a 2004-18 run with NFL Network primarily as their lead draft expert (as well as some game analyst work for NBC’s Notre Dame games). And it’s that draft role that may be the most interesting, especially in the immediate future. Here’s an example of Mayock’s past draft work, the 2017 mock he did for NFL Network:
Of course, the Raiders’ draft picks under Mayock don’t exactly endorse his status as a draft expert. There are a lot of issues with that team’s 2019-21 drafts, but in particular, this season saw them release both of their first-round picks from 2020, Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette. However, those decisions had a lot going on beyond on-field play: Ruggs was cut after he was charged with DUI resulting in death, and Arnette was cut after behaving inappropriately with firearms. And saying that GMs should be able to identify a prospect’s “character” from limited media reporting on them in college and limited interactions with them at the combine has its own problems.
It’s also well worth noting that Mayock’s time with the Raiders saw him paid significantly less and given significantly less job security than the 10-year, $100 million contract handed out to head coach Jon Gruden (who resigned midway through this year after publication of his old emails during his time at ESPN). That suggests that Gruden had a lot of the final authority on picks. So it’s very difficult to see what exactly Mayock did or didn’t control during his time with the Raiders. And even with some up-close looks at the franchise like the 2019 HBO/NFL Films Hard Knocks, it was never really clear how much of a role Gruden and Mayock each played in controversial moves like signing and then releasing Antonio Brown. That doesn’t mean that Mayock can shrug off everything as “Gruden did it,” but it also doesn’t mean that these three years of Raiders’ drafts show he knows nothing. (And it’s worth noting that someone with much clearer responsibility for draft failures, former Detroit Lions GM Matt Millen, has done just fine in a return to TV.)
The big question may be where Mayock might land, though. ESPN already has two established draft voices similar to him in Mel Kuiper Jr. and Todd McShay, and his former network, NFLN, has moved on with figures like Daniel Jeremiah over the past few years while Mayock was involved with the Raiders. Sure, either of those networks could bring Mayock in/back, but it’s not necessarily an obvious play for either. That might mean that digital sites or podcasts might have more of a chance of landing Mayock, though, and adding him would certainly be a way for a site to get some attention ahead of the draft.
Of course, though, that’s all presuming that Mayock wants to return to the media world. Maybe he gets a personnel job elsewhere in the NFL. Or maybe the 63-year-old Mayock is content with what he’s done to this point and wants to move into retirement. But it’s certainly at least interesting to contemplate how he might wind up on draft coverage again.