The Oakland Raiders and general manager Reggie McKenzie have made a name for themselves picking up quality players where others did not see them. From undrafted free agents like Rod Streater and Matt McGloin, to late round picks like Stacy McGee and Mychal Rivera, to under the radar free agents like Nick Roach and Philip Weaver. Ever since he took over, one thing can be counted on, McKenzie will explore EVERY opportunity to make the team that presents itself.
Now obviously, more often than not that exploration leads to nothing more than collecting information. But that is a great way to run an organization, never assuming that a player won’t be able to help and always taking a look to make sure. So when the San Francisco 49ers decided to put running back Kendall Hunter on the waived/injured list, I immediately wondered if McKenzie would take a look.
In all likelihood, this is one of those situations where McKenzie looks and decides it is not worth the trouble. If not for the fact that Hunter is on the last year of his deal, he would be a guy well worth considering. He has talent and has proven he can play in the NFL. He will mist his season with a knee injury but should be ready for 2015.
Meanwhile, the Raiders running back group is questionable at best. While there is a lot of talent, most of it is either unproven or trying to prove that the talent is not all used up. Darren McFadden and Kory Sheets are both on one year deals while both Maurice Jones Drew and Latavius Murray are no guarantee to be legitimate options to start in 2015. For that reason, the Raiders need to be at least considering the fact that they need to find a new running back next season.
If Hunter had more than just this season left on his contract, taking a look at him in waivers would make a ton of sense. He is still on his rookie contract and makes less than a million dollars this season. But as it stands, McKenzie would be paying to have exclusive negotiating rights with Hunter. Given the fact that the Raiders will not likely meet the cap this season and with a ton of cap space next year, the Raiders could easily pay that money so they have a good chance of signing Hunter beyond next season, but with a knee injury that does not seem like a very viable option.
This is just the first of notable names to find their way into being available to the Raiders. While Hunter may not get more than a once over from McKenzie, paying close attention to moves like this is important as one could wind up being a contributor in Oakland fairly easily.