As expected on Tuesday night, Mark Davis eventually met with Dennis Allen and the head coach was kept for the 2014 season. Davis as expected, backed off on the rumors that Allen’s job was ever in danger and while Tony Sparano left to be an assistant at Tampa Bay after refusing to sign a one year deal, the majority of assistants under Allen will be back as well according to CSN Bay Area’s Scott Bair.
That doesn’t mean the Raiders don’t have a ton of uncertainty remaining around the franchise heading into the offseason and free agency in the coming months.
$60 million plus in cap space still needs to be spent by general manager Reggie McKenzie, expiring contracts need to be made and a direction in which the team’s rebuild should go still needs to be decided as after two years of “deconstructing” the team has now ran out of time.
2014 is likely the final year in which McKenzie and the coach he picked to lead the rebuild in Allen will have to prove that they are actually improving the franchise. After two 4-12 seasons, getting out of salary cap hell and maintaining a semi-decent product are clearly no longer acceptable results for Mark Davis, nor should they be as the franchise attempts to stay in Oakland for the future and secure a new stadium deal.
Expiring contracts of key players such as Jared Veldheer, Rashad Jennings, Lamarr Houston, and a large handful of players who proved their worth to the Raiders on expiring contracts in 2013 will need to be addressed as will their value compared to the 2014 free agent class as McKenzie looks to balance cap space and retaining the talent he has right now.
The quarterback situation will also need to be addressed as McKenzie will need to decide whether or not to attempt to develop the steadily improving Matt McGloin or hope that Terrelle Pryor’s regression stemmed from injury and he can improve or find a quarterback through the slim pickings of free agency and the potentially promising draft class to find his answer. Could Johnny Manziel be the future? Or could the likes of Blake Bortles/Derek Carr be in the mix for a potential second round pick should they drop out of the first round? Or do veteran passers who are rumored to be on the way out of their former cities in Sam Bradford, Matt Schaub or Mike Vick catch the eye of McKenzie?
Everywhere you look on the Raiders depth chart there are holes to be filled, decisions to be made, and talented to be added to a team that shed around $70 million in cap space in just two seasons by sacrificing depth and roster continuity for the chance at rebuilding in their vision. How will Reggie McKenzie use that money? It might just be the deciding factor in between the Raiders becoming a success story or continuing the decade long pain of failed attempts at reaching the playoffs for the first time since their lone Super Bowl appearance of the 00′s. For now, the 2014 season is one that has many open ends and no clear answers. How McKenzie answers the Raiders problems will largely affect the careers of he and Allen, two respected assistants who were given their big break by Davis as GM/head coach.