The brilliance behind Reggie McKenzie's free agent plan


The Oakland Raiders were one of the most active NFL teams in free agency this year. They brought in 11 new players through free agency while also adding another, Matt Schaub, via trade. But rather than the focus of the media being on the drastically different makeup of the team and how it has improved, the media has focused on the age of the players and chosen to look poorly upon Reggie McKenzie’s offseason.

That, however, is missing a huge aspect of what McKenzie has done this year.

Sure, a lot of the guys he signed are older and on the backside of their careers. But at the same time, they also have a ton of experience and not just years in the league, winning experience and experience being some of the best players in football. Even at an advanced age when their skills may be starting to deteriorate, they represent massive upgrades over the 2013 roster that was full of backups and questionable NFL talent.

So the roster is clearly better even though there is a valid point to be made about the fact that many of the players are no longer in their prime. Part of the reason behind the negative view on the Raiders this offseason is because of the massive amount of cap space that McKenzie had to work with. Some believed that because of that space, McKenzie should have morphed into Al Davis and spent like mad, bringing in big names to appease the masses.

That, however, would have gone against everything that McKenzie has been trying to do the past two years. He did not clear the Raiders of obscene contracts and a terrible cap situation simply to get them back into another one. Instead, McKenzie brought in talented veterans on short term contracts. He expects the veterans to help develop the younger players while helping the team be competitive in the meantime. Plus, none of the contracts involve massive numbers. Even while these guys play out their 2-3 year deals, the team won’t be hurting as a result of them and can continue to add players every offseason.

To put it simply, McKenzie has put together a Raiders roster that will be able to reload rather than rebuild.

With such low risk signings that the Raiders will be out from under in a couple of years, they will remain free to continuously upgrade every offseason. Gone are the days of needing to restructure deals just to get under the cap before free agency. Gone are the days of trading high draft picks for older talent. Gone are the days of trying to hit a home run and win a Super Bowl with one or two massive signings.

Instead of trying to be the hare, McKenzie is the definition of the tortoise. He is methodical about his process but that will permit the Raiders to continue building every year, giving them the flexibility to plug holes where needed and ensuring that every offseason will be spent upgrading the roster rather than trying to deal with money issues in the hope of making one big splash.

No, the offseason was not the most exciting or sexiest for the Raiders. Yes, they could have gone out and thrown money around making big name signings left and right. But had they done that, it would have simply been repeating history and a history that Raiders fans have been complaining non-stop about for years. While fans and media alike were hoping for a big and exciting offseason, it’s the slow and steady tactic that wins the race.

After all, when was the last time you saw the Patriots “win” free agency? The Packers? What about the Super Bowl champion Seahawks? Niners? Saints?

The perenial winners in the regular season are never mentioned as winners in free agency. And for a good reason.

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  • Terrence Healy

    Reggie is doing a great job, have not agreed with his draft picks but we will see this year.
    The Critics have always gotten in wrong.

    • James Arcellana

      Agree 100%, I think he has a lot to prove when it comes to his drafting but I think his FA activity has been very good.

  • marty

    Reggie is THE MAN! This years Raiders will be 100% better than last years Raider team. Next year 100% better than this 2014 years team, and so on and so forth. The Raiders will be in the playoffs this season. That alone is going to make all of us Raiders Fans, very HAPPY!! GO RAIDERS!!! Cheers, to the 2014 Oakland Raiders! Marty.

  • DaveCL

    Stop giving him credit he has not earned! He has done nothing here but blow up an organization! The free agents do look good and I pray to the football gods it all comes together and if it does we can call him brilliant. Make him earn it

    • James Arcellana

      Never said he was brilliant. Said his free agent plan this offseason was and I do believe that. And the blow up was pretty necessary and not as easy to navigate as some like to believe.

  • Anonymous

    @ Dave CL remind me how the state of the team a couple of years ago. He inherited a team with a huge salary cap and over priced players like Tommy Kelly that was loosing. Although his draft picks remains to be seen. He deserves credit on where the team seems to be heading in the right direction

  • Brian C Brock

    Reggie is doing all the right things and occasional mistakes are inevitable. There is no foolproof plan so trusting the choices is correct. Please don’t trade Moore because we haven’t seen his potential peak due to lack of QB. He will reach peaks this year!!!

  • Matt Emmons

    Reggie took Aaron Rodgers he is apparently the guy to draft QB’s but he passed last year so lets see what he does this year Raiders need a franchise QB long term. If he does not pick one this draft especially if Shaub is does not get his confidence back and continues to throw picks for TD’s.Reggie will be canned along with DA sorry to say. All the picks her made and FA he signed will mean nothing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If he takes a QB Manziel or Bortles and they pan out Raiders fans will be overjoyed and he will be in his job for a long time to come like his comarade and mentor Mr. Wolf in GB. Good luck Reggie you will not get a better draft to get the Raiders Franchise QB in.

  • robert

    Hope this gets to every Football fan , including Raiders fans…. chillax.. reggie’s got this..