It’s been an eventful weekend for Lynn Bowden, who has officially touched down in Miami, Florida. News broke Saturday afternoon the former Wildcat has been traded from the Las Vegas Raiders to the Miami Dolphins.
Bowden, a third-round pick in the NFL Draft, was traded along with a 2021 sixth-round pick in exchange for a 2021 fourth-round pick. The Raiders already paid Bowden his $985,000 signing bonus, meaning they’ll lose that cap space, as well. It’s a perplexing trade to say the least.
I’m homeeeee ???
— Lynn Bowden Jr (@LynnBowden_1) September 6, 2020
After the trade was made public, The Athletic’s Vic Tafur wrote a story headlined “Even at a loss, Raiders happy to find a trade partner for Lynn Bowden Jr.,” writing that Bowden’s early growing pains at training camp “can’t be the whole story.”
“Some at the team facility thought the rookie was more concerned with picking up new cars than the playbook, and on the field Bowden looked measured and not explosive. On top of a lack of breakaway speed, he was always getting blasted when it was his turn to pass block.
There were also some growing concerns that he was getting more and more distracted in Las Vegas and that he might be an influence on other rookies like Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette.
Suddenly, that slide rule that teams use to measure talent versus potential risks tilted toward the conclusion that keeping Bowden was a losing proposition.”
After The Athletic story broke, Raiders’ general manager Mike Mayock called the trade a “football decision only” on conference call with reporters, adding “character off the field, the kid did absolutely nothing wrong.”
Mike Mayock on Lynn Bowden trade: "Number one, it was a football decision only. Character off the field, the kid did nothing wrong. We did all the homework on him. He worked his tail off and competed every day." #Raiders
— Adam Hill (@AdamHillLVRJ) September 6, 2020
“Quite frankly I think the position change is a difficult one in any year. But it’s exaggerated in a COVID year with no offseason,” Mayock added. “So, you’re taking a kid that was a slot receiver in ’18, a quarterback in ’19 and asking him to play running back in ’20. Really the only other thing I’m going to say about it is it was my call. He was not able to play today at the level expected and because of that we felt like we had to make a move. And again, it’s 100 percent on me.”
This was a drastic change in position from just days earlier, when Mayock explicitly said “we just have to continue to give him the time” to improve. Mayock referenced the organization’s decision to move Bowden to running back as the main reasoning for why the team has to be patient with their rookie.
“We’re asking an awful lot of this young man. Any time you ask a college player to play a different position, it’s called a projection and you’ve got to give them some time. That’s the way I feel about Lynn,” Mayock recently said on the radio show Chalk Talk with JT the Brick. “Lynn has come in and done everything we’ve asked. We just have to continue to give him the time to learn to convert to a running back primarily. And he’s never been that before.”
By Sunday morning, Bowden was forced to address the situation on Twitter, telling his followers “don’t believe everything you read,” likely in response to The Athletic’s story.
Don’t believe everything you read lol I stepped outside of my home twice if that ? on to a new journey let’s rock ??
— Lynn Bowden Jr (@LynnBowden_1) September 6, 2020
One of his former coaches, Vince Marrow, also came to Bowden’s defense online. While he was at it, Marrow added an extra jab at the Raiders for passing on Josh Allen in the 2019 NFL Draft. Instead of selecting the National Defensive Player of the Year, the Raiders used their No. 4 pick on a defensive end out of Clemson, Clelin Ferrell.
Allen, who wound up with the Jacksonville Jaguars as the No. 7 pick, followed up with his own words of encouragement to his fellow former Wildcat.
@LynnBowden_1 is one of the best football players I’ve been around he’s not a running back he’s a Wr who can make plays. He’s also a very intelligent football player so just remember this is the same team who passed on @JoshAllen41_ enough said. Go Big Blue.
— CoachMarrowUK (@vincemarrow) September 6, 2020
Can’t wait to see you ball brotha https://t.co/8WZzSZ3KGx
— 41 (@JoshAllen41_) September 6, 2020
First, the Raiders’ brass publicly said they’d give Bowden time to develop into (another) entirely new position. Less than a week later, he was traded. Then, someone from within the organization leaked reports to The Athletic, hinting toward off-the-field issues and distractions as the reasoning for the trade. Meanwhile, Bowden tweets he only “stepped outside of my house twice if that.” Hours later, the team’s GM calls the move a “football decision only.” There’s something fishy going on here, and I’m glad Bowden isn’t part of it any longer.
Plus, are we really going to believe Bowden simply couldn’t handle learning a new position? Kentucky fans know as well as anyone how quickly Bowden is able to adapt.