You gotta crawl for you ball, as the saying goes. Reggie McKenzie has done plenty of crawling. He’s worked his way up the NFL ladder to become the general manager of the Oakland Raiders. Thus far he’s had a baptism by fire.
McKenzie inherited the throne of one of the most historic franchises in all of sports but for all intents and purposes he’s pretty much starting from scratch. New coach, new staff, new players, new everything. McKenzie is rebuilding the Raiders from the bottom up.
Over the last month the McKenzie has rolled up his sleeves and got his hands under the hood. His top priority, after hiring a new coaching staff, was to get the Raiders into shape for the impending beginning of free agency.
Safe to say that no other first time G.M. has had to conduct the type of business McKenzie has. When the offseason began the Raiders were nearly $25-million over the salary cap. Toss in a franchise tag applied to Tyvon Branch and we can call it an even $30-million. Currently the Raiders own a meager two late-round draft picks so help is going to have to come from unexpected areas.
One place where McKenzie didn’t expect to get any help for his new head coach, Dennis Allen, was from many of his overpaid player producing nothing close to their contract value.
While his name was still being painted on McKenzie’s office door, Stanford Routt was shown the exit, setting the tone for what was t come next – a complete cap cleansing. Yesterday the dust settled with Kevin Boss reported to be the latest but certainly not last Raider to be removed from the payroll. There is still one more domino yet to be tipped. An $11-million defender named Kamerion Wimbley that has drawn plenty of discussion in recent weeks.
There is still no official word on Wimbley and there is also no official figure on where the Raiders stand financially after some serious contract restructuring and contract disposals. Free agency is set to begin in a few hours and McKenzie can’t afford to be watching passively. He might not have the big money to spend but he’s got plenty of holes to fill.
The most pressing need at the moment has got to be cornerback. Routt’s release left the Raiders without at least one quality starter on the roster. Later Chris Johnson went the same way and now Oakland is without a veteran corner. There is plenty of help to be found on the open market, it just all depends on how much McKenzie is willing to commit to that position.
The offensive line needs an infusion of new talent as well plus the Raiders will likely look to add another linebacker.
With much to be done and not many resources available McKenzie is facing a tough challenge. A challenge Mark Davis surely briefed him on prior to hire but one that will truly test the rookie general manager.