Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Contract Conundrums Cloud Raiders Free Agency Options

Reggie McKenzie inherited a real mess of a salary cap situation to cleanup in his first year as an NFL general manager. The good news is that he was able to get the Silver and Black under the cap with just enough room to dip a toe into the free agency pool. The bad news is he’s got to do it all over again.

Last season it was a given that the likes of Stanford Routt and Kamerion Wimbley would be off the payroll. Routt is currently in NFL limbo having been cut by the Kansas City Chiefs before landing as a reserve for the Detroit Lions. Wimbley did little to justify the contract the Tennessee Titans handed him once he was removed from the East Bay.

By all accounts McKenzie not only did what was necessary but what was right with regards to those two hideous contracts.

The problem was even after shredding ridiculous deals, allowing a few key contributors to walk and even restructuring payments on the big salary deals he kept on the books McKenzie was left with relative pennies to spend on the open market.

Get ready for more of the same this offseason.

Not since the Oakland Salary Massacre of 2008 (aka the worst free agency class ever) have the Raiders been players in the NFL’s open market. In fact the only major moves have been some questionable trades including the acquisitions of Richard Seymour and Carson Palmer.

Neither of those big trades have yielded the desired results. And both of those contracts could be gone in a matter of weeks.

Seymour is set to become a free agent and it’s unlikely he’ll be back in Silver and Black. Palmer, on the other hand, has another mega payday coming that could make for a tough decision.

Either McKenzie makes this rebuild official on the books by removing Palmer from the payroll all together or he asks his QB to take a reduction in salary. Coughing up $13-million for a thrower that routinely kills clutch drives with interceptions is bad business. And considering there is a chance Terrelle Pryor could earn the starting job there is just no way to justify an eight-figure payday for a potential clipboard holder.

Then there is the issues of what to do with the large contracts of Tommy Kelly and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Neither did enough to warrant another year under the Al Davis deals they signed and odds are one if not both will be gone.

All of the salary shuffling will again leave McKenzie in a tight spot as he’ll have to make more tough decisions on free agents to be like Shane Lechler, Brandon Myers, Philip Wheeler, Matt Shaughnessy, Desmond Bryant and Mike Goodson to name a few. Thus don’t expect much movement on the open market as Oakland will again be the eye of the free agency storm.

Tags: Free Agency Oakland Raiders

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