December 21, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie (left) and owner Mark Davis (right) before the game against the Buffalo Bills at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Reggie McKenzie’s job security has been put into question heading into the final week of the Oakland Raiders 2014 season, but after three straight home victories that knocked their opponents out of the playoff race, optimism is running high about the future of the franchise. With Khalil Mack and Derek Carr amongst the candidates for Rookie of the Year on both sides of the football and other young players such as Sio Moore, TJ Carrie, Latavius Murray, DJ Hayden, Justin Ellis, and Gabe Jackson turning into starting caliber players the recent drafts of McKenzie have the team in a better position to win longterm that when owner Mark Davis hired him.
Throw in nearly $60 million in projected cap space for 2015 Free Agency and the Raiders could turn things around finally come 2015, something that McKenzie mentioned while talking to the media following the home finale win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in claiming that the foundation of the Raiders has been finally built.
“The foundation has been built,” McKenzie said Sunday, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “That’s what it’s all about. The more young guys play, the more comfortable they get, and now they’re making plays.”
McKenzie also praised his first two picks from the 2014 Draft in Carr and Mack for turning into what he feels are now veteran caliber players after learning quickly from plenty of rookie playing time.
“Derek and Khalil stopped being rookies a little while back,” McKenzie said. “Now they are veteran players. They can carry this into next season and help build this team into winners. “They’ve shown their teammates who they are as players and men off the field, and they’re definitely guys everybody can count on.”
It is up in the air whether McKenzie will be back for the 2015 season on a contract that is two more seasons or if he will be fired when owner Mark Davis hires a new head coach in the new year, but even if the first general manager in team history not named Al Davis leaves his legacy will be in Carr as well as Mack. McKenzie has been a divisive figure due to his patient rebuild, but putting the pieces together for this team to succeed in the long run if they nurture the development of their rookie crop, Raiders fans will be cheering on some of McKenzie’s players for years to come even if he isn’t around in the future.