Oakland Raiders: Why Reggie McKenzie Had to Rebuild
Jimmy Hal – Oct 11, 2012
As the infamous "new era" of Oakland Raiders' football has aproached us, it is clear to see that it has left much to be desired. The optimism that was felt in the offseason has slowly dwindled and now is just looking for any sign of life. No, a 1-3 record is not what general manager Reggie McKenzie had in mind when he made abundant changes since being hired by Mark Davis.
Many now have have questioned MecKenzie's decision making when it is to soon to have formed an opinion.
Many general managers have started off slowly only to see their plan come to fruition over the course of time. Some have even started off quickly only to struggle down the stretch. Either way, both scenarios have one thing in common, time.
When looking back at the moves Reggie McKenzie has made and seeing the immediate results of those decisions, one may question, was McKenzie right to rebuild? To answer that question thouroughly, let's remember what McKenzie was walking into.
We all have love and respect for the great Al Davis. His impact on the game will never be matched by anyone. However over the past decade, Davis chose to overpay veteran free agents based on their past reputations rather than their current level of play. For example; Warren Sapp and Javon Walker and most recently in McKenzie's case, Kamerion Wimbley and Kevin Boss.
Because of those kinds of decisions, the Raiders salary cap has not been in good shape for quite some time. Part of being a good team means having the resources you need to get a player that best helps the team. That can not happen when you are restructuring half the contracts on your roster every year just to make salary cap regulations.
"I wasn't trying to get rid of the guys who were here," McKenzie said when talking about his personnel decisions. "It's about production and some of it was cap related."
Another thing McKenzie walked into were players on the "Al Davis Scholarship Program." Divine atheletes who had loads of potential, yet had not become the greatest of players, i.e. Standford Routt. Because of all of these cap issues, the Raiders could not keep the players they wanted to keep such as Michael Bush.
Another thing that McKenzie walked into was overall bad drafting. A lot has been made of Reggie McKenzie getting rid of people, but keep this in mind...
The majority of the players drafted by the Raiders after the first round since 2007 have averaged only three years of service for the Raiders, with the exceptions being Zach Miller, (4 years) Michael Bush, (5 years) Tyvon Branch, (4 years, currently in 5th) Johnnie Lee Higgins, (4 years) and Chaz Schilens, (4 years).
Ironically, it is the 2009 draft which was considered the Raiders worst draft that breaks this trend. Of the players drafted after the first round in 2009 the Raiders still have Mike Mitchell, Matt Shaughnessy and Brandon Myers who are currently in their fourth years. The players from that draft that are no longer with the Raiders are Stryker Sulak and Slade Norris who failed to make the roster in their rookie seasons. The once beloved Louis Murphy was traded after his third year of service.
In order for the Raiders to be succesful, they need to strike gold even beyond the first round, which the Raiders haven't been great at either. The Raiders haven't drafted a pro-bowler in the first round since 2003; that player was Nnamdi Asomugha.
Clearly, when it comes to personnell decisions, the Raiders have been playing shuffle board with their roster long before the McKenzie era.
Ultimately, a good GM is judged on how well he attacks free agency and the draft. Due to his limitations, 2012 hasn't even scratched the surface of McKenzie's prowess.
So was McKenzie right to rebuild? To answer that bluntly: He had to.
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