With the first days of free agency for the Oakland Raiders behind us and in the bag, let’s examine the job that Reggie Mckenzie has done this far. While many fans in the Raider Nation of taken arms and criticized Mckenzie of the job he has done, mainly the departure of Lamaar Houston and Jared Veldheer. Well, the Raiders still have upwards of $57 million to spend and free agency is not even a week old yet.
First let’s talk about the departures- LT Veldheer, DE Houston and RB Jennings.
The main player that hurt the team by leaving was Jared Veldheer. While he was injured last year for 11 games and played terribly for the five games he was active, he has shown in the past that he can be a very solid left tackle in the NFL, if not an elite one. Obviously Reggie does not share this same sentiment as he thinks that he is not worth the $6 million price tag the Cardinals gave him.
His plan all along was most likely to move 2013 2nd round pick Menelik Watson from the right end to the left end, as Reggie has very high hopes very Watson, who spend most of the season injured. As fellow member of Raider Nation said here , lets just put the whole Saffold incident to rest. Reggie never had intentions of him playing left tackle, but in fact rather a guard position where he flashed pro-bowl potential last year.
I will put this bluntly Raider Nation, Houston is not an elite player. He is an undersized DE who looked good on a bad team last year. If he was in fact one of the best free agent linemen, there would have been hype on him before this year, but there wasn’t. He somehow convinced the NFL that his lukewarm 6 sacks made him one of the best linemen. Well for the price that the Bears signed him, we signed Woodley and Tuck who are far better pass rushers than Houston.
Justin Tuck came on at the end of the season recording 9.5 sacks in the last half of the season. How many did Lamaar have in those last 8 games? Two. Houston’s main strength came against the run, but people don’t realize the Tuck is also very solid against the run aswell. We upgraded two spots for the price of one guy. Tuck (30) and Woodley (29) are not as old as the league makes them out to be and still have a lot of good football in the tank, especially when you consider Houston is turning 27 this summer.
Jennings is not worth the $4 million that the Giants paid him, at least not in the role he serves for this offense. The Raider’s re-signed DMC to a dirt cheap contract ($100,000) guaranteed, and they have two backs that they are high one, UCF’s Lavatius Murray and Canadian football sensation Cory Sheets. He is a non-factor when it comes to the backfield, and with the money they saved, we were able to sign another pass-rusher in Antonio Smith (or Tarell Brown, whichever you prefer to see that money go to).
In a few, quick, cost effective moves, the Raiders were able to get rid of players who’s own value did not meet theres, and players who did not want to be here. They managed to severely upgrade the the D Line already (look for them to continue upgrading this) and sign nice stop gap veterans to mentor the young players they are going to draft in addition to contributing on the field. They shored up the secondary by signing CB Brown, who was a starter in San Francisco in the playoffs, to play opposite of the promising DJ Hayden, and resigned free safety Usama Young to play alongside Tyvon Branch.
They managed to do all this and still have $57 million to spend, just don’t expect McKenzie to be blowing all his money. He signs smart, cost effective players and builds through the draft, it has always been his plan. He is a shrewd businessman and refuses to pay anything but his value for a player. While Raider nation may seem infuriated by this, he learned from the best in Ted Thomson and the folks up there in Green Bay. He is adding quality players and depth right now and look for him to pick up a play maker with the #5 overall pick.
While he has two major flaws in the picking up of Tyler Wilson and Matt Flynn, he has an exceptional eye for talent, or do you not remember that we drafted Sio Moore and Mychal Rivera and signed UDFA Matt McGloin, Rod Streater, etc. Remember, none of us are NFL general managers and have the knowledge they do, so don’t act like he is a moron and not knowing how to do his job. He is the only reason we have hope for the future right now and we should respect him enough to let him carry out his plan without getting the pitchforks out less than a week into free-agency.