Reggie McKenzie has Removed 30 of Al Davis's Players from the Team's Roster
Elias Trejo – Mar 22, 2013
As I was browsing the Raiders roster tonight I started to look at all of the names listed on their website. I was amazed at how many new names have joined the team in such a short time. Reggie McKenzie has been doing a complete roster makeover since taking over the team. I looked back at the Raiders roster in 2011, which was the last year Al Davis was running the team, and I realized just how much different the team is now.
Only 21 players from the 2011 roster are still listed on the 2013 roster. Out of those 21 players, three of them are unrestricted free agents who are free to sign with other teams. One, Rolando McClain, is going to get cut most likely on June 1st. Tommy Kelly is another player that may possibly be cut, as he himself see's the writing on the wall. It's very possible that Oakland could head into the 2013 season with only 16 of the players from the 2011 roster. That is a major change for any NFL team to go through, and it's especially tough to try and transform a team when you have a bad salary cap situation and limited draft picks.
Davis had full control of his team and loved the fast, strong, big type of players. His roster was full of guys who ran the fastest 40 times in the combine. Guys like Darrius Heyward-Bey, Stanford Routt and Demarcus Van Dyke who ran some of the fastest 40 times in NFL Combine history are no longer on the roster. Guys that were typical Al Davis players are being weeded out and being replaced by players like Juron Criner and Rod Streater. Criner in his rookie year caught 16 passes for 151 yards and one touchdown on 34 targets. Compare that to Heyward-Bey who caught nine passes for 124 yards and one touchdown. Now compare that to Streater, who in his rookie year caught 39 passes for 584 yards and three touchdowns. The way the "New Era" is looking at players cannot be any more different than the way things were done before.
McKenzie spent 18 years with the Packers and helped them build a team that eventually won two Super Bowls and made the playoffs 13 out of the 15 years he was there. He helped and saw how a successful organization is run, and how they scout their talent. Not taking anything away from what Davis did in his career, but the fact that over 30 of his players are no longer on the roster tells us how far away the Raiders really were from competing for a title in the last 11 years. Oakland is still looking for their first winning record since the 2002 season. While reassembling the team now may take them a few more years, they are setting themselves up for long term success. The last two free agency periods are a prime example of how McKenzie and the Raiders plan to move forward with the organization.
Letting guys like Kamerion Wimbley and Philip Wheeler go because they don't believe in mortgaging their future with over paid players is a good thing for Oakland. Wheeler was a bright spot for the Raiders in 2012, but the reality is you don't sign a guy like Wheeler to a 5 year $26 million deal. He performed in a contract year like many players do because they want to get paid. Last year he recorded 109 total tackles, but the previous four years he only had 220. You can't give a guy a long term contract who recorded a third of his career production totals in one year. You need to see consistency, and you pay for consistency. The Raiders were able to sign Nick Roach and Kevin Barnett, two likely starters, for what the Dolphins gave Wheeler alone.
The Raiders team you see on the field in 2013 is once again going to look different than it did in 2012, and much different than in 2011. As fans, this can be frustating. Especially to those who bought a Wheeler, Heyward-Bey, or Huff jersey recently. It's never fun to lose your favorite players or lose players that you think the Raiders should have kept, but it's even less fun when you are losing games. There is no "Kool-aid" drinking going on with the supporters of McKenzie. Those who support them understand that Oakland is trying to modernize their franchise and build their team through the draft, and no longer going to try and do it via free agency. There is no reason to try and spend big money in free agency to build your team. Why spend money on expensive players when their former team wasn't willing to do it? If they were that good, they wouldn't be hitting free agency anyways.
Oakland is building a system that allows them to draft players and develop players. They are also removing players that have production that doesn't match their paychecks. The Raiders future looks brighter than it has in a while, and even looking at the 2013 season, it's easy to see how they can have a better year than they did in 2012. There is still plenty of work to do for Oakland this offseason, but every move made and not made will be carefully calculated to help solve the organizations problems and help them build a successful franchise in the years to come.
For more Raiders news and opinions follow me on Twitter: @Elias_Trejo
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