When linebacker Rolando McClain’s brief tenure with the Raiders officially came to an end last week, it served as the latest reminder of the messy situation that Reggie McKenzie inherited when he took over as the team’s general manager.
With McClain gone, the Raiders have just one of their first-round picks from the last nine years on the roster and they have a mountain of dead money on the cap that’s limiting their ability to build a better roster around it. McKenzie is clearly choosing to go through the hard times now in hopes of a brighter tomorrow, when the Raiders will have copious cap space and all their draft picks rather than watching other teams use premium picks that Oakland sent out of town.
McKenzie told Peter King of SI.com that he expects the team to compete this year — “This is not a throw-in-the-towel deal” — but he also knows that there’s a good possibility that the team will struggle as they move past the mistakes of the past administration. He told King that he doesn’t fear that such an outcome will reflect poorly on him with owner Mark Davis.
“You know what? I don’t think along those lines,” McKenzie said. “I just think of doing what’s needed to make this team the best it can be long-term. That’s my job. But fearful? No. Not at all. Mark knew the cap part of this was going to be a two-year deal. Mark is not his father. He is allowing me to do this, and we talk about the process all the time. He’s allowing me to do the job that needs to be done.”
Davis would be silly to do anything else. You don’t fire an architect after he oversees the demolition of the old house on your property because the demolition got ugly and you don’t fire a general manager because of the leftover problems from the previous regime. McKenzie deserves a chance to be judged on his own players and he’s only just starting to get them in place.