Oakland Raiders Draft Report Part 1: Reggie’s Way
Byron Lambert, Rosterwatch.com
Since his installation in 2012, Raiders insiders have collectively pointed to 2014 as the make-or-break year for General Manager Reggie McKenzie. Years one and two were predictably rough as the team took a big gulp and transitioned through a salary purge.
In owner Mark Davis’ eyes, that’s still not enough reason for fielding a laughable, and/or dysfunctional product—which the Raiders certainly have been in stretches over the last two years.
This early part of the 2014 calendar was the offseason where Reggie finally had all the money in the world to spend, and the franchise could be re-invigorated. Instead, he let his two best young players walk and signed a bevy of declining veterans. Not what Raider Nation wanted to see, as they expressed complete infuriation throughout the month of March.
Underlying those maneuvers—ones that left fans scratching their heads wondering why a rebuilding team would ever opt to “go old”—there could be a hidden brilliance concocted by McKenzie. The big old Ginger Saint Bernard may have buried a few bones for the future.
McKenzie likely realized, after a gamut of post-season meetings with Davis, that he was on a short leash. There is a clear understanding between ownership and management that; “yes, the team is rebuilding, but the on-field product could no longer be the folly of the NFL.”
With this knowledge, McKenzie acted decisively in an attempt to spur culture change while preserving future cap flexibility. Working to roll out a competitive team this year while simultaneously building for the future. Historically, a tough act to balance.
According to Reggie, he got rid of the guys who “didn’t want to be there.” He brought in succesful veteran leaders mostly from winning organizations to infuse the team with leadership and a winning attitude. While it can be argued most of the veteran acquisitions are in the final stretches of their careers, it can also be debated that Reggie got value at key positions on guys who can still play. More importantly, he spent his money this year- but he didn’t tie up future funds with large, guaranteed long-term deals.
The message is clear, McKenzie understands he must compete now. He must field a functional on-field product in 2014. He’s at an inherent disadvantage within the division. But, this witch’s brew of veterans and young prospects, apparently has a chance.
If Reggie drafts well.
Stay Tuned For:
Oakland Raiders Draft Analysis Part 2: First Round Draft Needs
Oakland Raiders Draft Analysis Part 3: Choosing a Playmaker