Raiders’ general manager Reggie McKenzie is putting a new meaning to “cap-friendly”.
When McKenzie took the job, he inherited a bad team and that was in a massive cap mess and gave away several draft picks when former coach Hue Jackson and the late owner Al Davis basically sold the farm to get quarterback Carson Palmer from the Cincinnati Bengals (he was worth a 2012 first-round draft pick and a second-round selection in the 2013 draft, which turned out to be a very bad move). The Raiders were 4-12 last season, now it is time to pay the piper.
Punter Shane Lechler (5th-round draft pick in 2000) left and signed with the Houston Texans, he was a $4.9 million cap hit last season. At the beginning of this month, McKenzie cut safety Michael Huff and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, two former first-round picks; that’s $21 million off of the $123 million salary cap.
They couldn’t hold on to Richard Seymour, the defensive leader (and a $19.1 million cap hit) nor linebacker Philip Wheeler and defensive tackle Desmond Bryant. No way McKenzie could afford to re-sign that caliber of free agent.
Now McKenzie and the Raiders need to go down a little deeper to complete clean out the monetary scab that has held the team back from winning since 2002. Quarterback Carson Palmer is due $13 million this season ($28 million left all together in the last two years of this contract) and reports have it that he will not work with the organization to restructure. The team will be forced to decide whether it wants to keep the 33-year-old Palmer at his current salary or release him.
GM McKenzie has said that backup quarterback Terrelle Pryor will get a chance to compete for the starting position. Pryor earlier this month told the NBC Sports Network that he will be “more than ready” to vie for the job.
A change of scenery might benefit running back Darren McFadden, too.
In five NFL seasons, he’s averaged just 11 games per year and never played in 16. Yet his skill set should be enough to intrigue a contender that can afford to part with a mid-round pick to upgrade its backfield.
Raider Nation (aka The Black Hole) are not going to like these type of moves, but in order to progress in the future, they are going to have to stubble back a couple of steps right now. McKenzie is heading in the right direction.
Written by – Arnold Glass II – AFC West Writer