The Oakland Raiders have had as busy a free agency of any other NFL team that made big splashes this offseason — general manager Reggie McKenzie entered the signing period with north of $70 million to spend, which allowed him to further bolster a talented core of youth players, improving his roster on both sides of the ball.
The Raiders signed guard Kelechi Osemele, cornerback Sean Smith, edge defender Bruce Irvin and a few others to improve the special teams unit. On the same token, punter Marquette King, left tackle Donald Penn and receiver Andre Holmes were all re-upped with extensions. All of McKenzie’s moves have been hailed as formidable and tasteful, a far cry from an organization which has become the pillar of mediocrity and dysfunction over the past decade in fan circles.
Though the team still has needs to fill, the general manager spoke candidly during a recent interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, saying that all the major deals have been done, and are finished for that matter.
“I’m never done,” McKenzie said. “With all that money, we’re probably done with that big spending, yes, but there’s always ways to improve your roster. It doesn’t have to be a whole lot of big money players.”
The team and McKenzie have $17.457 million remaining to spend, according to the most recent NFLPA salary cap report. A portion of those funds have been reserved for players selected in the upcoming NFL draft. However late in the free-agent process it may be, Raiders fans and analysts are quick to point out McKenzie can have a knack for adding impactful players in the late stages — he signed wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who subsequently fielded one of the most impressive campaigns since he entered the league in 2009, in April.
He also added linebacker Aldon Smith, who started seven games last season, recording 21 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Smith departed after being handed a year-long suspension for various off-the-field incidents, but has been pegged to return once his suspension is up. He will join a linebacker corps which includes the aforementioned Irvin and sensation Khalil Mack.
“It’s not just about adding players,” McKenzie at last week’s owners meetings. “It’s about adding the right players and then getting them to jell. That’s about the coaching staff being together for two years straight. We don’t have to change systems. That’s going to help within itself with all the players coming back. They get to be in the same system again. That hasn’t happened here in Oakland for a while. Good players coming together with the same system and the coaching staff we have. Wth that mixture, we’re going to be better.”
David Barclay is an NFL Insider for byteclay.com. He is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Email, email@example.com. Twitter, @DJamesIII