It is an annual tradition in Oakland. With free agency just around the corner the front office employees of the Raiders are working hard to get under the salary cap. It is a tradition Reggie McKenzie is trying desperately to end but one he’ll have to participate in for his first year on the job at least.
Depending on which source you believe, the Raiders are either $11-million over the cap figure or a healthy $25-million over.
No matter the exact number the job remains the same. Accountants must get creative in finding ways to move money around while McKenzie and company make phone calls to agents. Much of the heavy lifting will happen without so much as a peep from local beat writers or the national media getting wind of what’s happening.
Players will be asked to restructure contracts, defer payments or just simply take pay cuts.
The happenings that will make news relate to who the Raiders ultimately decide to release and retain.
We’ve seen all the usual suspects rounded up over the last few weeks. Names like Tommy Kelly, Michael Huff and Kamerion Wimbley have all been thrown under the salary speculation bus. As in they’re getting too big a salary to be contributing so little to a lackluster defense. In Kelly’s case his production has been there just inconsistently. Wimbley and Huff just can’t justify the money Al Davis gave them.
Where the real effects could be felt relate to how much McKenzie is willing to spend on likes of Tyvon Branch and Michael Bush. Both are set to hit the open market and both a sure to generate more interest than the script for the Jeremy Lin story.
It doesn’t at all look likely that the Raiders will go the franchise tag route. That too is something McKenzie would like to reverse the recent trend on. If that’s the case then the Raiders will have to offer some sort of longterm deal for either player presumably with some serious up front figures.
I’m of the opinion that the Raiders will move on from Bush. His franchise figure is far too large for a team that has Darren McFadden on its roster. Even if Run DMC does his usual injury disappearing act there is still no way to justify giving a lucrative deal to a part-time runner like Bush.
Taking care of the players currently on the roster is one thing. This whole discussion centers on the Raiders trying to get into position to be players in free agency. If recent history is any indicator then the Raiders will be free agency players on a very minor level.
The cash isn’t there to attract top tier talent. Not to mention the uncertainty of players currently under contract will make for a tough sell to players looking for work. Right now there isn’t much of a consensus on which way McKenzie is taking the Raiders. He’s looking to do an overhaul, no doubt about that. But are we looking at a complete rebuild or is there still a desire to try and build a contender on the fly?
The questions keep coming with answers few and very far between. All will be revealed in due time. Well…it will have to be with free agency set to start on March 13th. The Raiders have been here before. They’ll be under the cap in time. McKenzie’s job is to make sure they’re not doing this same dance again…and again.