You can’t properly grade a first year GM until his team has taken the field but thus far Reggie McKenzieis doing right in my book. On limited funds McKenzie has put together a group of hungry and determined players with something to prove. Those kinds of inspirational tools can motivate players to go above and beyond the call of duty and that’s exactly what the Raiders are banking on for 2012.
Look no further than veteran corners Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell as the best examples of the McKenzie mentality. Finding vets willing to take on the McKenzie special (a one-year contract) in hopes of showing the football world that they’ve still got it is what was required to make things work under the current cap situation. That one-and-done deal is also a major source of fuel for anyone looking to stay in the Bay beyond the coming year.
Now the hope is that both Spencer and Bartell will be able to shake off their injury affected 2011 campaigns with a bounce back performance in 2012.
Bartell was a fixture in the St. Louis secondary until a neck last year injury ended his season almost the second it began.
Spencer too was a regular starter across the Bay until the perfect storm of injury and new coaching regime claimed his job.
Both men have ample reason to go out and perform at a high level. Clearly both are at the career crossroads. McKenzie’s one-year audition is basically the last chance to get another NFL contract for both of the 30-year-old corners.
Both men also share the same birthday so in many ways they’re in the exact same boat, fated to resurrect their careers in silver and black. Or…fade to black and sink into the abyss that is veteran journeyman status in the NFL.
But as stated previously it’s far too early to tell if these McKenzie moves are strokes of genius or careless gambles. For now the logic behind the decisions grades out well. However all that matters is what happens on the field. So until then we’ll just have to hope for the best.